Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

The term Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease describes conditions that can affect the bladder and or urethra of cats. Signs associated with these conditions include cats having difficulty urinating, returning frequently to their litter tray or urinating in inappropriate places. They may also lick their back end more frequently and the urine may appear discoloured. Occasionally they are unable to pass any urine at all, this can be very serious. They may also show changes in behaviour such as becoming more aggressive. There are lots of different causes of FLUTD, which will be investigated by the vet. We often require a urine sample, and we may ask you to change the cats’ litter and collect a sample for analysis.

It is most commonly found in middle – aged, overweight cats, which use an indoor litter tray, have restricted access outside, and typically live in a multi-animal household. It occurs in both male and female cats but the risk of obstruction is greatest in male cats.

Most cases of FLUTD resolve within 5 – 10 days but it can be very distressing for the cat. It can be difficult to treat and can recur. It requires close collaboration between the vet and the owner. Ways in which you can help your cat include: –

REDUCE STRESS

Examples of stress for your cat include abrupt changes in diet or the weather, owner stress or the addition to the household of new pets or people. Help your cat by providing a safe area for his or her litter tray and provide a number of litter trays with suitable litter and clean them frequently. Reduce overcrowding and bullying – provide escape routes and hiding places. Reassure the cat as much as possible. Consider the use of “feliway” – a spray which mimics the cats’ scent and believed to reduce anxiety.

CREATE DILUTE URINE

Moisten dry food or change the diet to wet (canned) food, even with the addition of more water. Ensure free access to fresh water. Consider the use of a pet water fountain, which provides continual running water, encouraging cats to drink.

DIET

We may prescribe a special diet to dissolve or prevent recurrence of stones or crystals if they are present.

REDUCE WEIGHT AND ENCOURAGE EXERCISE

We can advise you on dietary change to help reduce weight. Try encouraging your cat to exercise more with new toys / feed balls. We may opt to prescribe supplements to help the lining of the bladder, these can be provided as an injection or in tablet form and your cat may be maintained on these indefinitely. We may give medication to reduce spasm of the urethra, or provide painkillers.

REMEMBER – STAY VIGILANT, TREAT EARLY

This condition can recur so watch for changes in behaviour. We may wish to retest the urine at regular intervals. Treatment given will depend on the cause but may include analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, antibiotics and drugs to help repair the bladder lining. Early treatment will reduce the severity and duration of an episode.