Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
WHAT IS IT? HOW DO I HELP PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING?
What is FLUTD? Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) refers to a group of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra of cats. Cats with FLUTD display one or more of these signs.
- Urinate frequently and strain when they urinate.
- Urinate outside of the litter box and in unusual areas.
- Excessively lick at their genital area.
- Have blood in their urine.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
There are several causes of FLUTD but the most common are as follows:
- Feline Idiopathic Cystitis: When everything else is ruled out, a diagnosis of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is made. It is, by far, the most common cause of FLUTD, but unfortunately the least understood. (“Idiopathic” means “cause unknown”.) It is typically a recurrent condition. The underlying cause of Feline Idiopathic Cystits is unknown, but it has been shown to be associated with stress. Environmental changes, multiple pets, changes in food and feeding schedules are typical stressors in cats.
- Urinary Tract Infections: Urinary Tract Infections are in fact not a common cause of FLUTD (especially in younger cats), but a urinalysis can determine whether or not this is the cause of FLUTD. Antibiotics is one common treatment for this infection.
- Urinary Stones: Collections of minerals that form stones in the bladder and/or urethra. X-rays or ultrasound can be used to look for stones. Surgery is often required to remove these stones, however special diets can occasionally dissolve them. Dietary changes are often recommended to prevent recurrence.
- Urethral Blockage: A true emergency; urethral blockage occurs when the urethra becomes partially or totally blocked. Stones or mucous plugs are frequently the cause of urethral blockage. Treatment requires urethral catheterization and hospitalization on IV fluids.
- Tumors/Cancer: Cancer of the urinary tract is another less common, but potential cause of FLUTD.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT FLUTD?
- Keep your kitty hydrated! Plenty of access to fresh water is very important. Some cats enjoy water fountains. Canned food can also help with this.
- Multiple, regularly cleaned litter boxes (one more litter box than the total number of cats in the household is recommended). Litter boxes should also be kept in quiet and safe environments.
- Minimize change in your kitty’s routine.
- Play with your cat! Provide scratching posts, kitty condos, window perches- these will all enrich your cat’s environment.
- Keep your cat lean! Obesity is a risk factor for FLUTD.