Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) in Cats

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Feline lower urinary tract disease, abbreviated as FLUTD is a term used to give a description of any group of diseases or disorders that affect the lower urinary tract (urethra or bladder) in cats.

In layman’s language, FLUTD affects the ability of your cat to use the litter box or urinate normally. In most cases, cats with FLUTD show signs of increased frequency of urination, pain or difficulty when urinating, as well as blood in the urine.

Cats with this condition also lick themselves excessively and tend to urinate on smooth and cool surfaces such as a bathtub or tile floor. Here is everything you need to know about Feline lower urinary tract disease in cats.

Common signs of FLUTD

  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • When your cat strains to urinate
  • Pain when urinating
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Over-grooming especially around the rear end
  • Abnormally behavior change such as hiding, crying out, immobility or increased sensitivity

It is important to note that cats whose urethra has blocked (urethral obstruction) might also show these signs although they will pass little urine and will become distressed.

Male cats have longer and narrower urethra when compared to female cats and therefore, urethral obstruction is more common in male cats.

According to experts, urethral obstruction is a serious condition which requires you to take your cat to a vet immediately for treatment. In a nutshell, once you spot the above signs in your cat, take her to a vet as soon as possible.

The cats at a high risk of FLUTD

According to statistics, FLUTD affects nearly 1-3% of cats every year. This condition may affect any cat of any age as well as gender and breed, but in general, FLUTD in cats is more common in;

  • Neutered cats
  • Middle-aged cats
  • Cats that feed on dry foods
  • Cats that can’t access outside
  • Cats that hardly exercise
  • Cats that are overweight

Nutritional risks

Just like the way nutrition is important to people’s health, it is similarly crucial to your cat. According to experts, what you feed on your cat determines her overall health.

Giving your cat the wrong food might lead to the development of FLUTD where stones or crystals form within the urinary tract and cause pain, urination and perhaps blockage. FLUTD can also damage your cat’s kidney and may be fatal particularly when not properly treated.

Foods with lots of certain minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium might cause crystals to form in your cat’s urine and in the long run lead to urinary stones.

In addition, food determines the acidity or pH of the urine. For your cat to have a healthy urinary tract, her urine should be fairly acidic because it will be hard for struvite crystals to thrive in such an environment.

Common causes of FLUTD in cats

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

FIC has been found to cause FLUTD especially in cats that are ten years of age and below. According to experts, your cat may experience FIC if you fail to provide her with plenty opportunities for play, when she’s not kept happy, and when you fail to provide her with equipment and surrounding that meet her basic needs.

Urinary stones

Urinary stones are very common and according to statistics, it affects 10-20% of cats and can be found in the bladder, kidney, urethra, or ureter. Stones tend to block the urethra and are more common in male cats.

The result of urethral obstruction is that it prevents your cat from using the litter box and because she can hardly urinate, she can die within 72 hours.

Previous catheter placement

If your cat had a catheter for a urinary obstruction in the past, her urethra might have been injured accidentally during the placement which could form tough or fibrous tissue that might cause the urethra of your cat to narrow hence difficult to urinate.

Other causes of FLUTD

  • Bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Tumors (cancer)
  • Anatomical or body defects

Diagnosis of FLUTD

  • History and physical examination – First things first, you are supposed to examine your cat and determine if she’s experiencing the aforementioned signs. If she is, take her to a vet as soon as possible. Your vet will diagnose your cat on the basis of her history and physical examination
  • Urinalysis – Your vet can collect a sample of urine from your cat to help him conduct various tests. After carrying out urinalysis, he might also carry out sensitivity and bacterial test to determine if urinary tract infection is causing the FLUTD in your cat
  • Blood test – Blood tests are necessary to examine things such as blood cell counts, kidney function, as well as thyroid hormones. Through a blood test, you can determine the current overall health of your cat and determine a proper treatment plan
  • X-rays – A vet might prefer x-rays to see stones in the urinary system of your cat. Depending on the condition of your cat, the veterinarian might need to carry out other tests to determine if her urethra is too narrow or if she has a tumor in the bladder
  • Ultrasound – It helps your vet to examine everything going on in the bladder of your cat

Treatment

After diagnosis, your vet will develop a proper treatment plan for your cat based on her history, lab tests, physical examination, and/or imaging results.

  • If your cat has FLUTD, she needs an environment that’s rich in various resources such as scratching area, cat tree, human interaction, and interactive toys
  • Pheromones are recommended if your cat is anxious
  • Therapeutic diet may be helpful especially if your cat has urinary stones
  • Antibiotics are recommended if your cat has been diagnosed with bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Fluid therapy is helpful to flush the urinary tract and kidney
  • Pain medication

How to protect your cat from FLUTD

  • Give her plenty of clean water
  • Clean her litter box every day
  • Meet her environmental enrichment needs like play opportunities, safe place to retreat and positive human interaction
  • Inform your vet about your cat’s behavioral changes

Bottom line

Pets have become part of human existence and their health is very important. A healthy cat is jovial and playful and will make an excellent company for you or your kids.

Feline lower urinary tract disease is a common condition that might affect your cat and you should be on the lookout to ensure that she is jovial and healthy as always.

As a rule of thumb, it might not be possible to prevent your cat from developing FLUTD but you can successfully prevent recurrence of the condition with diligent care and the right diet.

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