Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Is your cat straining to urinate, urinating outside of the litter box, licking at his private area constantly? If so, your cat may have a condition called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Cats with FLUTD may also have blood in their urine and can even lose the ability to urinate altogether. In the following article, we will discuss the syndrome of FLUTD and how to diagnose and treat its underlying cause.

It turns out that all problems with the bladder, urethra, and lower urinary tract manifest themselves with either the same or similar clinical signs in cats. These include urinating in small amounts, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, licking, and urinating outside of the Litter Box.

Several known causes for these clinical signs include urinary tract infection, bladder stones (Urolithiasis), injury or trauma, even cancer. Additionally, some cats, especially males, will display these symptoms even where testing does not demonstrate their cause. In medicine, we call this idiopathic or “unknown cause.”

It is extremely important to note that some male cats who present with these symptoms will progress to being completely obstructed. In veterinary medicine, we call this being “blocked.” Blocked cats are a medical emergency! If the obstruction is not treated, quickly toxins that build up in the body along with excess potassium will result in life-threatening disease and death.

Blocked cats will have a firm/hard bladder and will not be able to eliminate any urine, despite constant straining. If you suspect your cat has a urinary obstruction, you must seek veterinary care immediately.

If your cat is straining to urinate, but you notice at least some urine coming out, a Veterinarian will help. During your appointment, a nurse will obtain a thorough history followed by a physical examination by your vet, who may recommend testing to rule out bladder stones or an infection. These tests can include a urinalysis, urine culture, and radiographs.

Many bladder stones are easily viewable on an x-ray and can be fairly easily identified. If these tests result in a diagnosis, treatment with antibiotics or special diets may be recommended. If these tests come back negative, your veterinarian will most likely suspect this condition’s idiopathic form as described above.

Treatment for idiopathic feline lower urinary disease centers around three key principles: Dilate the urethra to make it easier to urinate, encourage the elimination of sediment in the bladder by increasing water consumption and resulting urination, and relieving pain. Veterinarians have several key medications at their disposal to help achieve these goals.

Urethral dilators and pain medications will likely be dispensed, along with some form of fluid therapy, to increase urination. The addition of a water fountain to encourage drinking may also help. Finally, prescription diets are available for urinary conditions. The objective of these therapies is to balance the PH in your pet’s urine. Which left untreated creates an unfavorable environment for stones or sediment to form. In some cases, these diets can even dissolve stones!

Lower Urinary Tract Disease in Cats

If you notice your cat is straining to urinate, urinating blood, urinating in unusual places, or excessively licking at the urinary opening, it is strongly recommended to schedule an appointment with one of our World of Animals Veterinary Hospital doctors to help diagnose and treat your pet’s painful condition. Fortunately, many cases of FLUTD are treatable or manageable. With a proper plan for treatment and a little bit of care and love, you can keep your cat healthy for years to come.

Jeffrey Stupine V.M.D.
Medical Director
World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals