Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) describes a variety of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra of cats.
Clinical signs of FLUTD:
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating small amounts
- Frequent and/or prolonged attempts to urinate
- Crying out while urinating
- Excessive licking of the genital area
- Urinating outside the litter box, or other inappropriate places
- Blood in the urine
- Behavioural changes such as loss of litter-box training, aggression or irritation.
Which cats are the most at risk of FLUTD?
- Middle-aged cats
- Neutered male cats
- Overweight cats
- Inactive cats.
- Indoor only cats
- Cats that have limited access to water
- Dirty litter trays
Potential causes of lower urinary tract disease in cats include:
- Bladder stones
- Bladder infection
- Interstitial cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
- Urethral obstruction (caused by stones or by plugs within the urethra. Stones are made up of organic debris such as cells, proteins, and minerals. Less commonly caused by tumors or other physical abnormalities in the urethra.)
Treatment of urinary tract disease depends to some extent on the cause of the disease:
- Cats suffering from a urethral obstruction will need to have the obstruction resolved via the passing of a catheter through the urethra and into the bladder, hence relieving the obstruction. Supportive care such as intravenous fluids, monitoring of kidney function and blood electrolyte levels will likely be necessary.
- Bladder infections are treated by antibiotics suitable for cats.
- Bladder stones sometimes require surgical removal. In other cases, therapeutic diets may be an acceptable alternative to surgery. Often, a therapeutic diet will be recommended even after surgical removal of bladder stones to keep additional stones from forming. Your veterinarian will help you decide what is best for your cat.
- Water consumption should be encouraged. All cats should have fresh water available at all times. Water fountains and dripping faucets can entice some cats to drink more water. Feeding canned food is an alternative also because of the increased moisture content in wet food. Some cat owners also add additional water to their cat’s food.
- Environmental enrichment should be used to reduce stress for indoor cats. Enrichment includes toys, perches, hiding places, scratching surfaces, and other items to entertain your cat and make him/her feel safe.
- Keep litter boxes clean. Don’t disturb or harass your cat, while they are using the box. An adequate amount of litter boxes must be provided in multicat households.