What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a general term and includes, for example, urinary stones and other causes of bladder irritation.

The most common disorder of the group is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). FIC involves inflammation by an unknown cause, but stress is thought to be a significant factor.

While FLUTD can include cat urinary tract infections, it’s only seldom so. If you see blood in your cat’s urine, it is most probably a sign of FLUTD, bladder stones or a urethral plug — not an infection. In dogs, blood in the urine often is a sign of an infection, but this is rarely the case in young to middle aged cats.

FLUTD is also associated with the formation of crystals and stones in the urinary tract that can cause numerous and painful ailments for your cat. Struvite and calcium oxalate stones are common stone types.

Struvite crystals in your cat’s urine can combine with mucous and form a urethral plug. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder and out of the body.

If your cat is not peeing freely, a urinary blockage may be the cause. Contact your vet immediately as this condition is urgent and could be fatal if not treated.

 

What are the signs of FLUTD in your cat?

 

 

If your cat exhibits any of these warning signs of FLUTD, consult with your veterinarian.

  • Urinating outside of the litter box (inappropriate urination)
  • Straining when urinating
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Increased frequency of urination, usually passing small amounts of urine
  • Pink, dark or bloody urine
  • Crying out in pain/vocalizing during attempts to urinate
  • Licking the genital area
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lack of energy or interest in normal activities

 

Nutritional risks for FLUTD

 

You already know that the food you feed your cat is extremely important to her overall health. But feeding the wrong food can contribute to the development of FLUTD or another cat UTI.

 

An abundance of certain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium found in certain cat foods can cause crystals to form in the urine, which sometimes leads to urinary stones.

Food influences the pH, or acidity, of urine. Urine should be moderately acidic for a healthy urinary tract because it’s harder for struvite crystals to grow in an acidic environment.

Home environment risks and other causes

 

STRESS

Cats can internalize stress in their urinary tract, which can lead to painful inflammation. Stress may be caused by factors such as houseguests, conflicts with other pets, or a lack of places to rest or hide.

EXCESS WEIGHT

Overweight cats are also more likely to suffer from FLUTD.

LOW WATER INTAKE

When pets drink less, their urine is more concentrated, which increases the likelihood of stone formation.

LITTER BOX

Cats can associate painful urination with the litter box and stop using it.

 

FLUTD treatment and recurrence

 

 

FLUTD is serious and requires medical attention. Fortunately, you can help your cat recover with treatment from your veterinarian and the right FLUTD diet.
Note, however, that urinary tract disease is potentially a lifelong disease. Any cat that has been treated for urinary tract disease runs the risk of contracting it again. Even with the best treatment, some cats may have recurring signs or periodic episodes. Watch closely for recurrence of signs and symptoms, and consult with your vet if you see a resurgence of signs.

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