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September 21, 2022 |0 min read

Managing Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)? Keep reading for more information on symptoms, prevention, and treatment of FLUTD. 

A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend of mine when she brought up something concerning that was going on with her wily Russian Blue, Bernard. Bernard’s been in her life for a few years now and hasn’t been known to have a lot of health problems, but lately, it seems like he’s having some trouble going to the bathroom. My friend noticed that he was struggling to pee every time he used his litter box. Luckily, being a PrettyLitter subscriber, she got confirmation something was up when he eventually was able to let some pee out. Because of PrettyLitter’s health-conscious, color-changing urine pH litter, the crystals changed color when coming in contact with Bernard’s urine. Turns out poor little Bernard has a case of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Ouch! 

FLUTD describes a range of conditions that cause a cat urinary tract infection– lower urinary tract issues affecting the bladder and urethra. Some common symptoms of FLUTD to look out for as a cat owner are discomfort and pain when peeing, frequent urination or highly acidic urine, crying or meowing loudly when peeing, losing control of where they pee, and constant licking and grooming of their genital region. FLUTD could also be the reason why there is blood in your cat’s pee.

There can be many ways a male or female cat gets FLUTD. It can be triggered by diet, behavioral problems, inflammation, and infections. Even though cats of any age, size, or shape can acquire FLUTD, it’s most commonly seen among older cats that barely receive exercise, don’t drink enough water, don’t have access to outside environments, or are overweight. 

Listed below are some causes of FLUTD:

Urinary infection

Unfortunately, a cat’s urinary tract and bladder can be infected by bacteria, fungi, bacteria, and even viruses. Bacterial infections may be more common than parasitic, viral, or fungal infections, but they are still pretty uncommon among cats. If your cat has an infection like this, your vet will look for other causes of this infection. Did you know that uroliths can increase the likelihood of your cat having a UTI? Some treatments for urinary infections may include antibiotics, fluid therapy, and urinary acidifiers. Your vet will know which is right for your cat.

Urolithiasis (Urinary Stones)

This possible cause of FLUTD is extremely painful. Urinary or bladder stones (also known as uroliths) happen when minerals within a cat’s urinary tract build up and form tiny stones or urinary crystals that make it incredibly painful to pee. The most common uroliths among cats are calcium oxalate and struvite. Typically, x-rays and ultrasounds are the only ways to correctly diagnose urolithiasis. If your cat happens to have struvite uroliths, stone-dissolving diets can help get rid of them. However, calcium oxalate uroliths need to be surgically removed. If the diet doesn’t take effect, then, unfortunately, the struvite uroliths will have to be surgically removed as well. Your vet may provide veterinary medicine and changes in their diet, post-surgery, to help maintain health and prevent future occurrences of FLUTD.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

This is the most common cause for relatively younger cats with FLUTD under the age of 10. Sadly, this is the type of  disease that is only diagnosed when others that are similar to it have been ruled out. Much is still not fully understood about this disease and it can be chronic. It may also affect other body systems, outside of the bladder and urinary tracts. Sadly, vets are unable to predict which cats with FIC will have it again, but roughly 40% of cats that have had it will have another episode within a year. Decreasing the rate and intensity of the episodes is the main goal when dealing with FIC. Reducing stress and changing their diet may help decrease the number of episodes of FIC and subsequently FLUTD.

Urethral Obstruction

This possible cause of FLUTD is extremely dangerous to a cat’s health, and cats who are affected by it need to receive medical care as soon as possible. A urinary obstruction occurs when uroliths and urethral plugs (soft material containing built-up mucus, minerals, and cells) build up in a cat’s urinary system. Neutered male cats are the most at-risk of all the groups of cats. If there is a urethral plug, then the kidneys can no longer filter out toxins within their body and death may very likely occur. Treatment of this condition involves dislodging the obstruction by flushing the urethral passage with a tube. 

How can you obstruct future incidents of FLUTD from happening?

  • Reduce your cat’s stress
  • Keep routines unchanged or minimize any changes you make to their routine
  • Always provide clean and fresh water
  • Feed them small portions of food
  • Canned food may be preferred (consult your vet first)
  • Keep litter boxes in quiet and peaceful areas of your home
  • Keep and maintain a regularly clean and hygienic litter box
  • Make sure your cat(s) have enough litter boxes in your household

Even though FLUTD is hard to diagnose and has many possible causes, most cats will only have to deal with it once in their lifetime. If your cat is showing signs of possible FLUTD please take them to its vet as soon as possible.

Luckily, being a PrettyLitter subscriber, you’ll get confirmation something is up when your cat is eventually  able to let some pee out. Because of PrettyLitter’s health-conscious, color-changing urine pH litter, the crystals changed color when coming in contact with your cats urine, so you can act accordingly and give your cat the care it needs. 

 

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Sources:
  1. https://icatcare.org/advice/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease-flutd/
  2. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/feline-idiopathic-cystitis
  3. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cystitis-and-lower-urinary-tract-disease-in-cats
  4. https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/urology-renal-medicine/diagnosing-and-managing-feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease/https://www.medvetforpets.com/management-of-feline-lower-urinary-tract-disorder-flutd/
  5. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease#:~:text=Feline%20lower%20urinary%20tract%20disease%20(FLUTD)%20describes%20a%20variety%20of,and%20blood%20in%20the%20urine.
  6. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

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