Feline Lower Urinary Tract Syndrome

Feline lower urinary tract disease or syndrome (also listed as FLUTD or FLUTS) can be a very frustrating ailment for the pet, the owner and the veterinarian. It is basically an inflammation of the lower urinary tract, from the bladder to end of the urethra.

Signs of FLUTD include frequent trips to the litter box with minimal or no urine output, crying when trying to urinate, attempting to urinate outside the litter box, blood in the urine and increased licking at the genital area. It can occur in any age, breed or sex, but is more common in middle aged cats.

Causes are generally multiple but include diet, weight and genetics to some point. Some cats develop crystals in the urine which can lead to stones. This may lead to a blockage, which is more common in males than females and is a life threatening condition. If your cat frequently strains to urinate with very little to no urine output, then you need to contact you veterinarian immediately.

Bladder infections occur in cats, but not as frequently as once thought. Of the number of cats exhibiting some of these symptoms, only 10 to 20% actually have a bladder infection. Treatment would then require antibiotics.

Idiopathic cystitis is an inflammation of unknown causes. This actually occurs with some frequency in veterinary medicine. There are many theories as to causes, but no one particular culprit. Many cats will resolve on their own within 7 to 10 days.

Tests for FLUTD involve a general exam, then a urinalysis. From that point, further blood tests, catheterization or more diagnostic urine tests may be needed.

Treatments will vary depending on the diagnosis. Many will need a dietary change to prevent crystals or to promote a healthy urinary tract. Some will need antibiotics. Cats that are blocked will need to be anesthetized and catheterized to unblock.

Not every cat that urinates out of the litter box has medical problems; they can also have behavioral issues. We must first rule out the medical problems before deciding it’s behavior related.

No matter what causes the cat to not use the litter box, we sometimes need to retrain them. Clean litter boxes are a must and adequate numbers of boxes make a difference (1 more box than the number of cats). Cats can be finicky about the type of litter used, so use caution when switching brands or styles of litter.

In most cases, once treated cats will usually be fine. Life long diet changes may be necessary. Some cats will have a recurrence, and others will never have another episode for as long as they live.