Why is My Cat Not Using the Litter Box?
A cat that refuses to use the litter box or who repeatedly urinates outside of the litter box can be difficult to live with. Unfortunately, many cat owners become frustrated and end up relinquishing the cat to a local shelter or turning the cat outdoors when faced with this situation. However, if your cat suddenly and inexplicably stops using the litter box, there is generally a reason why the behavior has occurred. Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), or sometimes referred to as Lower Urinary Tract Signs (LUTS), is one of the more frequent medical causes.
What is FLUTD?
Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, is a term used to describe any group of disorders or diseases that affects the lower urinary tract (bladder or urethra) in cats. Causes of urinary tract disease include crystals or stones in the urinary bladder, bladder infections, inflammation in the urinary bladder (sometimes referred to as idiopathic cystitis), and other abnormalities within the urinary tract. LUTS are some of the most common reasons cats are brought to the veterinarian.
Lower urinary tract signs in cats is a big deal. In fact, one of the most common reasons cats are abandoned to animal shelters (and sometimes euthanized thereafter if they can't be re-homed) is due to urinary issues. Fortunately, there have been many medical and nutritional advances made to help resolve urinary tract disease.
What are the FLUTD Warning Signs?
Symptoms associated with FLUTD include inappropriate urination (urinating outside of the litter box), repeated attempts to urinate, difficulty urinating, painful urination, bloody urine, lack of appetite, and irritation. Some cats may lick excessively at the penile or vaginal area or at the abdominal area because of the pain associated with FLUTD.
- Straining to Urinate
Feline idiopathic cystitis, also known as bladder inflammation, is the most common cause of lower urinary tract disease in cats. This inflammation, in turn, can lead to straining when urinating. It can eventually even lead to more severe and emergency type of situations like the formation of stones in the bladder or the formation of a urethral plug, which is a, life-threatening condition that causes a cat (almost always male) to become "blocked" (i.e., unable to urinate).
- Frequent Attempts to Urinate
Cats with urinary tract disease often urinate an abnormal amount of times each day because little to no urination is being evacuated each time. This is obviously very frustrating and also dangerous for a cat because when a cat is blocked she is unable to rid herself of bodily toxic waste products through her urine.
- Painful Urination
The pain associated with urinary tract disease may be so severe that some cats will lick their penile or vaginal area (or at times the abdominal area) as a way to try and self-soothe. Cats with urinary tract disease may also be more irritable than usual.
For the complete slideshow on Signs Your Cat Has Urinary Tract Disease, visit petMD.
Cat Displaying FLUTD Signs, Now What?
If your cat is displaying lower urinary tract signs, such as straining repeatedly to urinate and inability to produce urine, seek veterinary care immediately. This condition can rapidly become fatal, especially in male cats. Your veterinarian will examine your cat and collect urine samples for testing. In some cases, blood testing may be required. Radiographs (X-rays) are also often necessary, as well as an abdominal ultrasound, in order to diagnose the cause of FLUTD.
For the complete slideshow on Things You Must Know About Cat Urinary Tract Infections, visit petMD.