Unfortunately, these issues are very prevalent among cats of all breeds and ages. However, there are certain strategies that owners can use to lower the chance of their cats contracting urinary-related health issues.
Use the tips posted below to improve your cat’s urinary function, and to learn more about why your cat’s diet might be related to its urinary issues. Also covered is a basic overview of urinary-related illnesses that are commonly seen in cats.
An Overview of FLUTD, UTIs, and Cystitis
FLUTD, short for feline lower urinary tract disease, isn’t actually a singular disease - it’s a catch-all term used to describe the various symptoms that commonly present in cats with lower urinary tract problems. Some of the major symptoms are as follows:
- Excessive urination
- Making vocalizations while urinating (i.e. in pain during urination)
- Urine that contains blood
- Constantly licking their genital areas
- Not going to the bathroom in their typical spot (i.e. not in the litter box)
These symptoms are seen in cats of all breed types and age levels, however, they’re more commonly seen among cats who eat a dry diet (i.e. dry cat food). This is why many vets recommend prescription-based dietary changes (such as using Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Urinary SO moderate calorie dry cat food).
Treating FLUTD usually focuses on changing the dietary habits of the cat. While there can be many different underlying causes of FLUTD, diet plays a role in nearly all of them (in most cases). If your cat suffers from FLUTD, it’s important to schedule a consultation with your vet (to discuss treatment options, dietary changes, etc.).
Urinary Tract Infections
Believe it or not, UTIs aren’t actually that prevalent in cats. Issues such as FLUTDs are incredibly common, but not UTIs. The two have very similar symptoms, so a lot of times owners might mistakenly believe that their cat has a UTI (when it’s actually FLUTD).
UTIs occur when bacteria enters into the bladder and subsequently infects the surrounding body tissue. Further complicating things is the fact that a UTI oftentimes leads to the development of bladder stones (which can cause many other issues).
One of the only ways to truly tell if your cat has a UTI is by taking them to the vet to have their urine examined (or producing a sample for the vet to test). The vet will use a high-powered microscope to determine whether or not there are bacteria present in your cat’s urine.
Managing FLUTD and Other Issues
The single most important aspect of maintaining a cat’s urinary health is making sure that it's being flushed out regularly (i.e. making sure the cat is drinking enough water). Cats aren’t like dogs, in that they’ll drink water whenever they have the chance, and they’re a lot more prone to dehydration because of this. Canned cat food has water included in it, which is a great way to add some hydration to your kitty’s diet.
Another way to get your cat to incorporate more water into its diet is by placing bowls of water around its living environment. You can even go as far as switching up the type of water, the brand, the placement of the bowls, etc. The point is to try and encourage your cat to drink more water (no matter how difficult that might prove to be).
There are a variety of treatment methods for cats with FLUTD; antibiotics changes to dietary habits, medications, etc. Another treatment method that’s commonly overlooked (even by vets) is focusing on improving the cat’s mental health.
Just like in humans, cats can develop physical health problems from stress, depression, etc., which is why it’s important to make sure that your cat is being mentally stimulated to an adequate level. Making sure that your home environment is calm, stress-free, and that there are no problems with other pets can help a lot with your cat’s stress management. Don’t forget to play with your cat, too, because playtime is important for getting rid of excess energy (which can manifest as anxiety).