All too often, we see (typically male) feline patients in our emergency and ICU departments who are suffering from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). FLUTD is basically defined as anything that causes “inflammation” of the lower urinary tract. This condition can become a serious medical emergency if your cat develops an actual urethral obstruction and is unable to urinate.

Urethral obstruction, a potentially fatal condition, is caused by anything that “plugs” the urethra, including a clump of inflammatory cells, crystals and/or stones and any type of stricture or cancer.

There are numerous causes of FLUTD, including bladder stones, urinary tract infection, cancer of the bladder and/or urethra, urethral blockage, kidney failure and idiopathic cystitis (where no known cause is defined).

There are also multiple symptoms of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your vet immediately:

  1. Inappropriate urination – This mainly involves urinating in inappropriate places (i.e., not in the litter box) around the house.
  2. Bloody urine – This can be noticed in the litter box, although it can be difficult to notice in some litter. It is more easily noticed if they urinate in inappropriate places, such as the floor or on furniture.
  3. Straining to urinate – This is often confused with straining to defecate. The cat will make frequent trips to the litter box and get in a posture that can appear like he is trying to defecate, although he is actually straining to urinate.
  4. Licking his penis – This occurs due to pain. You will see your cat frequently licking at his genitalia.
  5. Vomiting
  6. Lethargy
  7. Inappetence

Though not foolproof, there are various preventive measures that an owner can practice to avoid FLUTD. Incorporate these habits into your and your cat’s life:

  1. Promote drinking water – This includes feeding canned food, since canned food has water content, as dry kibble does not. The water in the Charlotte area contains many minerals, even well water, so giving distilled water is recommended. There are “kitty fountains” that make a water sound, which entices cats to drink. Stainless steel fountains are recommended over the plastic ones.
  2. Have “Plus One” Litter Box – This means that if you two cats, have three litter boxes. Keep these litter boxes in convenient, accessible places for your cat.
  3. Keep Litter Boxes Clean – There are types of litter now that make it very convenient to keep the litter box clean. Cats don’t like dirty litter boxes! Try to clean litter boxes daily.
  4. Environmental Enrichment – Cats have unusual sensitivity to their surroundings. Provide items in the household that stimulate your cat. Plug in pheromones help to keep your cat calm and happy. Also, climbing posts and look out perches help to keep your cat occupied.
  5. Prescription Urinary Diets – If your cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD, prescription urinary diets are strongly recommended.
  6. Antidepressants – If your cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD, there are certain anti-depressants that can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help prevent them from getting stressed.

Preventative studies and continued research are being conducted to prevent and treat Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. As a cat owner, stay informed and educated about this condition, as it is quite common and can be fatal if not treated.

If you suspect your cat has FLUTD, see your veterinarian immediately. If your cat exhibits an inability to urinate and your vet is unavailable, CARE is open 24 hours a day for such emergency needs.

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