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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Black & White cat drinking from a water bowl

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a term used to describe a variety of common disorders that affect the lower urinary tract in cats.

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) can manifest with a variety of clinical signs that can include pain, discomfort and vocalisation when urinating.

Symptoms

  • Cats will often pass small frequent amounts of urine which may contain blood, they may visit the tray frequently and spend a long time straining to produce only a small amount of urine.
  • Urination in inappropriate places is another common sign of FLUTD.
  • Cats may lick their back end after passing urine and some cats will have bald areas on their abdomen from over-grooming due to discomfort.

 

Causes of FLUTD can include:

  • Urinary infection
  • Urinary stones or crystals
  • Urethral obstruction
  • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

Analysis of the cats urine can be very useful and can often identify what is causing the problem, special non absorbent litter kits are available at the surgery.

Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC)

In some cases there is no obvious cause or sign of infection, this is referred to as idiopathic (no known cause) cystitis. Any cat of any age cat can suffer with FLUTD/FIC but increased risk factors include being male, middle aged, overweight, indoor only, multi-cat household and eating a mainly dry diet. Cats that suffer from FLUTD and FIC will require veterinary attention for medication to ease their symptoms. Any cat that is straining to pass urine and does not pass anything must be seen by a vet as soon as possible, urethral obstruction is an emergency and if left untreated can be fatal.

Causes of FIC can include:

  • Low water intake
  • Litter tray issues
  • Stress

ginger cat drinking from water bowl

Here are some tips that can help cats suffering with FLUTD/FIC:

  • Increasing water intake
  • Situate water bowls away from food bowls, in the wild, cats would seek water separately to hunting for prey.
  • Provide multiple water dishes at least one per cat plus one, try a variety of dishes, cats prefer ceramic, glass or metal dishes, plastic bowls can taint the taste water. Cats also prefer their whiskers to not touch the sides of the bowl so for food and water a wide flat bowl is better.
  • Fill the water to the brim and change it daily
  • Clean water bowls regularly with hot water and a small amount of washing up liquid, ensure there is no trace of the detergent left in the bowl before refilling
  • Place water bowls away from litter trays and noisy thoroughfares, window ledges, tops of stairs, hearths are all useful locations for positioning water. Water bowls should also be provided in the cats outside area.
  • Cat’s will often prefer free flowing water and a wide variety of cat fountains are now available, a dripping tap is also a favoured source of water
  • Water can be added to dry food to increase water intake, alternatively try switching your cat to a wet diet (pouch/tinned)
  • Cats have many different water preferences: warm, cold, room temperature, spring, rain, tap water a small amount of flavouring such as tuna /chicken broth can be added to increase the cats interest.
ginger cat drinking from feline water fountain

Litter trays!

  • Even if your cat normally goes to the toilet outside if they suffer from FLUTD/FIC it is essential that they have access to at least one litter tray indoors.
  • In multi-cat household’s it is essential to have one litter tray per cat plus one, so if you have 3 cats you should have at least 4 trays.
  • Litter trays should not be located in the same spot, they should be located in different areas throughout the house, away from other animals and noisy appliances. They should not be position directly in front of doors or windows, they may see other cats outside which will lead to them feeling vulnerable, this is not desirable when trying to use the loo!
  • Many trays are too small for cats, an ideal tray should be one and a half times the length of the cat. Under-bed storage boxes with the lids removed are great and often cheaper alternatives to shop bought trays. Hooded trays give privacy but they can often trap odours and provide sites of ambush for conflicting cats, doors should be removed so the cat does not need to leave the tray “blind”.

Litter

The type of litter your cat prefers will often be the one they used during litter training, however the majority of cats will choose a sand or gravel like litter when offered a choice. If a cat has previously had cystitis it may have negative associations with the type of litter used during the episode, this may result in litter tray avoidance. In this case, an alternative litter may need to be trialled. Scented litters may seem like a great idea to us but to a cat whose sense of smell is over 10 times better than ours, scented litter can be very off putting!!
Waste should be emptied several times daily and the entire tray emptied and cleaned with boiling water and washing up liquid once a week.
ginger cat in litter tray
Alongside these measures, steps should be taken to lower your cats stress levels. Feliway diffusers contain a synthetic feline pheromone that can help to reduce stress by helping to reassure and calm your cat.
For more information please contact the surgery on 01736362215.