Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a term that describes a number of conditions affecting the bladder and urethra of cats. FLUTD is common, complex and serious – obstruction of urine can be painful and even life-threatening for cats, so contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these signs:
- Straining to urinate
- Painful urination (crying out in the litter tray)
- Frequent licking of genital area
- Blood in urine
- Producing little or no urine after straining
- Loss of litter training
The causes of FLUTD
There are several different reasons for your cat to have problems with urination. These include:
Idiopathic cystitis: a common condition causing painful inflammation of the bladder. This leads to leakage of proteins and blood into the urine, which can block the urethra in male cats. This is a life-threatening complication.
Bladder stones: a less common problem. Cats can be affected by several types of bladder stones (most commonly struvite and calcium oxalate) all of which can lead to urethral obstruction in male cats.
Anatomical abnormalities: cats be born with abnormal lower urinary tract anatomy, or it can develop after trauma. The symptoms depend on the location and type of abnormality.
Bacterial urinary tract infection: very unusual in cats without other health problems, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Age, weight and stress: overweight or older cats can suffer from urinary complications, as can cats with a stressful lifestyle. Idiopathic cystitis is known to worsen with stressful events, such as moving house, having new pets in the home, and even bad weather!
Your vet will perform a few tests to confirm the specific diagnosis. Blood tests may be performed to rule out some underlying problems and a urine sample will be tested for the presence of inflammatory cells, blood and crystals and to assess urine concentration.
If your cat is suffering a blockage to the urethra, your vet will need to act quickly. A urinary catheter will be inserted under sedation and anaesthetic, dislodging the blockage to allow normal urine flow to resume.
Bladder stones may need to be surgically removed, with some types of stone requiring a diet change. In cases of bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Idiopathic cystitis is challenging to treat and often involves a combination of pain relief, stress reduction and specialist medications. A change of diet can also help to reduce the concentration of the urine.
How you can help
FLUTD is challenging to treat and requires much patience. You may need to think about stress in your cat’s daily life and how to reduce it, and also consult with a feline veterinary specialist or behaviourist should you notice a big change in your cat’s behaviour.
A veterinary specialist may recommend switching to a specialised diet such as PURINA® PRO PLAN® VETERINARY DIETS Feline UR St/Ox.