Feline Lower urinary tract disease is a common finding in the world of veterinary medicine. In the past month here at The Veterinary Center of Hudson we have seen two cases so I thought I would share some valuable information with you guys so the next time your cat is exhibiting any of these signs, you can seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
What is feline lower urinary tract disease?
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) describes a collection of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra of cats. This syndrome can have many possible causes, but cats generally exhibit similar, recognizable signs. While the condition can be seen in cats of any age, it is most frequently seen in middle-aged cats. Environmental factors such as multi-cat households, litter box hygiene, changes in routine or any stressful event may increase the risk that a cat will develop feline lower urinary tract disease.
What are the signs of feline lower urinary tract disease?
Your cat may show signs of:
- Difficulty or pain when urinating
- Crying out when urinating
- Increased urge and frequency to urinate
- Blood in their urine
- Grooming themselves excessively around the genital area
- Urinating outside of the litter box. Some cats may prefer a cool surface to urinate such as tile flooring or the bathtub
- The inability to urinate at all
How is feline lower urinary tract disease diagnosed?
Based on your cat’s signs, your veterinarian will likely perform an initial physical examination and run a urinalysis. If the cause of your cat’s signs have not been identified with a physical exam and a urinalysis, other testing may be recommended, including blood work, x-rays, and a urine culture.
What are the most common causes of feline lower urinary tract disease?
Feline Idiopathic cystitis (FIC)
This is the most common diagnosis of cats with feline lower urinary tract disease. Feline idiopathic cystitis is a diagnosis of exclusion meaning that all other diagnostics tests have failed to confirm the presence of another disease such as urinary stones. If your cat is suffering from FIC, she likely is urinating frequently, producing little urine and the urine may be blood tinged. She may also be urinating outside of the litter box on cool surfaces such as tile floor or the bathtub. These signs are likely due to bladder discomfort and inflammation. Fortunately, the signs of lower urinary tract disease in cats with non-obstructive FIC often resolve spontaneously within a couple of weeks regardless of treatment.
Stress is an important factor in the development of FIC in cats. Sources of stress in a cat’s life may include environmental changes, changes in food schedule, and changes in the number of animals in the household. Environmental enrichment and modification can reduce stress and decrease the severity and frequency of FIC episodes. To reduce environmental stress, your cat should be provided with a safe, clean area in which to use the litter box, access to plenty of water with their own food and water bowl and plenty of toys to play with to encourage their natural predatory behavior.
Urolithiasis (urinary stones)
Another possible cause for feline lower urinary tract disease is uroliths, also called urinary stones. Urinary stones are collections of minerals that form in the urinary tract of the cat. Your cat may exhibit the typical signs of FLUTD if he or she has urinary stones. You may see frequent attempts to urinate, pain when urinating or the inability to urinate at all. The two most common stones found in the urinary tract of cats are struvite stones and calcium oxylate stones. Medical recommendations for your cat will be based on the type of stones your cat may have. For instance, if your cat has struvite stones or crystals in the bladder, your veterinarian might recommend a special urinary diet to help dissolve the stones and prevent further crystal formation. If you cat has calcium oxylate stones, these cannot be dissolved with a special diet and more aggressive treatment may be needed such as surgery to remove the stones.
This is the most serious problem associated with FLUTD and is considered a medical emergency. Urethral obstruction occurs when the urethra of your cat becomes partially or completely blocked with a stone, urethral plug or due to a urethral spasm. Male cats are at greater risk for obstruction than females, because their urethra is longer and narrower. Urethral obstruction is a true medical emergency, and any cat suspected of suffering from this condition must receive immediate veterinary attention. Treatment of urethral obstruction usually involves catheterization, which is the passage of a narrow tube up the urethra. After the obstruction has been relieved, treatment varies depending upon the condition of the cat.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health please do not hesitate to call The Veterinary Center of Hudson at (234-380-8624) Please visit the website for additional information at https://www.vetcenterofhudson.com/