Bacterial Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis) in Cats How To Recognize and Manage Pyelonephritis

Bacterial Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis) in Cats

Pyelonephritis, or bacterial kidney infection, is a dangerous illness that can affect cats of all ages and breeds. Here, we discuss its treatment and how to prevent your cats from this kidney infection.

Bacterial kidney infection, also known as pyelonephritis, is a grave condition that can affect cats of all ages and breeds. This infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and move up into the kidneys, causing inflammation and damage to the organ. A bacterial kidney infection can cause chronic kidney disease, renal failure, and even death if it is not treated. 

The causes, signs, diagnosis, course of therapy, and prevention of bacterial kidney infection in cats will all be covered in this article.


Cat kidney infection is most times caused by the spread of bacteria from the lower urinary tract, such as the bladder or urethra, up to the kidneys. When germs enter the body through the urethra and move up the urinary system, this can occur. Pyelonephritis is more likely to occur in cats that already have urinary system issues, such as bladder infections or obstructions. 

Other risk factors include immune system disorders, underlying kidney disease, and urinary tract abnormalities. In rare cases, a bacterial kidney infection can also be caused by the spread of bacteria from other parts of the body, such as the bloodstream. Common bacteria that can cause pyelonephritis in cats include E. coli, Proteus, and Staphylococcus.

Kidney Infection in Cats Symptoms

The symptoms of pyelonephritis in cats might vary based on the gravity and length of the infection. Here are some common indicators to watch out for:

  • Increased urination: Cats with pyelonephritis may pee more often or have accidents outside of the litter box.

  • Painful urination: Cats may scream in pain when they urinate or avoid the litter box entirely.

  • Blood in pee: Cats that have bacterial kidney infections may have blood in their urine, which may be visible to the naked eye or only detectable under a microscope.

  • Lethargy: Pyelonephritic cats may appear weak or exhausted, and they can show less interest in playing or eating.

  • Appetite loss: A bacterial kidney infection in cats can cause them to lose their appetite, which can cause them to lose weight and become dehydrated.

  • Vomiting: Cats may vomit or regurgitate due to nausea and digestive upset caused by the infection.

  • Fever: A high body temperature is a common sign of bacterial infection in cats, including pyelonephritis.


Your veterinarian will do a complete physical examination of your cat and may order a number of diagnostic tests, such as the following:

  • Urinalysis: A urinalysis can be used to identify abnormalities in the cat's urine, including the presence of bacteria and white blood cells.

  • Urine culture: A urine culture is the process of growing bacteria from a urine sample in a lab, which can be used to identify the precise germs causing an infection and choose the best course of action.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to assess the cat's kidney health and look for any underlying medical issues that might be causing the illness.

  • Imaging tests: X-rays or ultrasounds may be performed to examine the cat's kidneys and urinary tract for indications of injury or inflammation.

How to Treat Kidney Infection in Cats

Here are some cat kidney infection treatment options:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are typically the first in line for pyelonephritis in cat treatment. The findings of urine culture and sensitivity tests, which can identify the bacteria causing the infection and the most effective medications to treat it, will determine the precise kind and length of antibiotic therapy.

  • Supportive care: Supportive care can help manage the symptoms of bacterial kidney infection and support your cat's overall health and well-being. This may include administering fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration, providing pain management, and encouraging rest and relaxation.

  • Management of underlying conditions: Cats with pre-existing health conditions, such as urinary tract abnormalities or kidney disease, may require additional management and monitoring during treatment for bacterial kidney infection.

  • Follow-up care: Follow-up care is crucial to monitor your cat's progress and ensure that the infection has been fully treated. Your veterinarian may recommend follow-up urine tests, blood tests, or imaging studies to evaluate your cat's kidney function and overall health.

Preventive Tips

A combination of basic hygiene habits, frequent veterinarian treatment, and awareness of your cat's health requirements will help prevent bacterial kidney infections in cats. Here are some recommendations to help prevent feline pyelonephritis:

  • Provide plenty of fresh water: Ensure that your cat has access to clean water always. Encouraging your cat to drink more water can help prevent urinary tract infections and reduce the risk of kidney infection.

  • Keep litter boxes clean: Constantly clean and maintain your cat's litter box to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other harmful substances that can cause infection.

  • Practice excellent hygiene: Wash your hands before and after touching your cat, and use it to your advantage when dealing with their litter box or cleaning up after them.

  • Regular veterinary care: To make sure your cat is in good health overall, schedule routine checkups with your veterinarian. Bacterial kidney infections can be avoided with the early identification and treatment of underlying medical problems.

  • Monitor your cat's behavior: Keep an eye out for changes in your cat's behavior or urinary habits, such as increased urination or accidents outside of the litter box. These could be signs of a urinary tract infection that could lead to pyelonephritis if left untreated.

By following these tips and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help prevent bacterial kidney infections in your cat and promote its overall health and well-being.

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