Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) refers to several conditions that can affect your cat’s urinary bladder and/or urethra. Cats with FLUTD are typically middle-aged, neutered, and/or overweight. Since these disorders have very similar symptoms, additional tests by your veterinarian are generally needed in order to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.
Signs & Symptoms
- Frequent trips to the litter box
- Blood in your cat’s urine
- Pain and difficulty urinating
- Urinating in inappropriate places
- Over grooming (especially in the genital area)
- Behavior changes such as irritability
Common Causes of FLUTD
- Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) – The most common cause of FLUTD in cats under 10 years old is FIC or an inflammation of the bladder without a known cause. The exact cause of this condition still remains unknown, and it continues to be a diagnosis of exclusion by your veterinarian after ruling out all other possible causes.
- Urethral Obstruction – This condition occurs when a stone, also referred to as a urolith or urethral plug, lodges in your cat’s urethra preventing him from urinating and constitutes a medical emergency.
- Urinary Stones (Urolithiasis) – This term refers to stones formed in the urinary bladder which sometimes block a cat’s urethra.
- Urinary Tract Infection – Bacterial infections tend to be seen in cats 10 years and older and are uncommon in younger cats.
- Anatomical Defects – Injury to the urethra can cause fibrous tissue to form resulting in a cat’s urethra becoming too narrow and causing difficulty in urination.
- Tumors (Neoplasia) – Fortunately, tumors of the urinary bladder are rare in cats.
How is FLUTD Diagnosed?
- Urinalysis – Your veterinarian will first obtain a urine sample from your cat in order to run several different tests. Depending upon the results, a bacterial culture and sensitivity test may be required to determine whether a urinary tract infection is causing your cat’s symptoms.
- Blood Tests – Along with urinalysis, your veterinarian will use blood tests that assess things like blood count and thyroid hormones. These tests can provide very important information regarding your cat’s current overall health so that a proper treatment plan is prescribed.
- Radiographs (X-rays) – Radiographs help your veterinarian identify radiopaque stones in the urinary bladder. In addition, contrast studies can be done to evaluate whether there is a narrowing of the urethra present or a tumor involving the urinary bladder.
- Ultrasound – Ultrasounds provide another way to gain information especially about the cat’s urinary bladder.
Depending upon the history, physical examination findings, laboratory tests, and/or imaging results, your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan that best addresses your cat’s symptoms.
How Can I Prevent My Cat from Getting FLUTD?
- Keep your litter-boxes clean and make sure there is one more litter-box than the number of cats in the household.
- Keep water available for your cat at all times. Some cats prefer running water such as with a fountain.
- Make sure your cat’s environmental needs are being met.
- Always keep your veterinarian informed on how things are going. Every cat has their own personality so what may work for one may not work for another. This is one of the many reasons why it is important for you to visit your veterinarian for routine examinations.