Understanding Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or FLUTD, is one of the most commonly reported and treated urinary tract diseases within the veterinary community. FLUTD prevents a cat’s bladder from emptying correctly and in severe cases, can cause a fatal blockage of the urethra. While it is most commonly seen in middle-aged, overweight cats that get little to no exercise and outdoor time, it can be contracted at any age, especially if the cat is under emotional and/or environmental stress.

What Causes FLUTD?

There are several causes of FLUTD, so if you suspect that your cat has the disease, remember that veterinary assistance is critical when it comes to identifying the root cause.

  • Stress
  • Spinal cord problems
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Injury to the urinary tract
  • Tumor in the urinary tract
  • Bladder inflammation
  • Bladder infection
  • Urethral plug
  • Accumulation of stones, crystals or debris in the bladder of urethra
  • Incontinence from excessive water drinking
  • Incontinence from a weak bladder

Signs & Symptoms of FLUTD

Almost 3% of cats seen by vets are treated for FLUTD. Although the percentage may not seem huge, considering the number of cats kept as pets in the US alone, it is a large amount of cases. Because the disease is not an uncommon health occurrence within the feline population, it is important to monitor your cat for FLUTD symptoms, such as the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Strong odor of ammonia in urine
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Prolonged squatting in litter box
  • Constant licking of urinary opening
  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased frequency of urination or urination attempts
  • Straining or crying out when trying to urinate
  • Urinating in places outside of the little box
  • Inability to urinate or only urinating a small amount
  • Hard abdomen

FLUTD Treatment

Due to the variance in severity from case to case, if you believe that your cat may have lower urinary tract disease, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention right away. Catching and treating the disease early on is the best way to prevent it from becoming potentially fatal, and is also the best way to get your cat feeling happy and back to normal. Depending on your cat’s case, your veterinarian may recommend one or some of the following treatments.

  • Dietary changes
  • Fluid therapy
  • Urinary catheter or surgery to remove blockage in male cats
  • Surgery to remove bladder tumor or stones
  • Surgery to correct congenital abnormality
  • Increase in water consumption
  • Urinary acidifiers
  • Antibiotics or other medications

FLUTD Prevention
Whether your cat has suffered from FLUTD in the past or you are working to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place, the following are effective ways to help keep it healthy and urinating normally. 

  • Provide fresh and clean water at all times
  • Keep litter boxes clean and in safe, low-traffic areas
  • Feed small, frequent meals
  • Reduce the amount of household stress
  • Consult your veterinarian about your cat’s dietary needs
  • Provide an adequate number of litter boxes per number of cats
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