Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases veterinarians see in cats. It's also a very frustrating condition because it can be hard to diagnose and even harder to treat.
FLUTD is a common condition in cats that affects their urinary tract. FLUTD is a general term for a group of diseases that affect the urinary tract. The most common cause of FLUTD is an infection, but there are other causes as well.
FLUTD can be caused by infections, crystals, stones, or blockages in the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your cat's body).
What Causes FLUTD?
FLUTD is caused by a number of factors. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause, but kidney stones can also be responsible. Pets that are overweight have a higher risk of FLUTD because their bodies don't process nutrients as well, and they produce more waste than other cats. If you're feeding your cat less water than it needs, its urinary tract may be dehydrated and become irritated, which can lead to an infection or blockage in the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body).
Pets with high-protein diets tend to produce more acidic urine than those on low-protein diets, so they're at greater risk for developing crystals in their urinary tract. When these crystals form in the kidneys or bladder stones, they irritate those organs and cause pain when urinating or defecating; this is commonly referred to as "Stranguria". Cats who have been declawed without receiving adequate postoperative pain relief may also be at higher risk for FLUTD due to reduced use of their paws (which help keep them groomed), thus increasing bacterial growth along their perineum—the area between their anus and genitals where bacteria can collect easily if not cleaned properly after each elimination session.
Neutering male cats before six months old has been shown to contribute significantly toward reducing incidences of FLUTD later in the life span. However, female cats who were neutered at an early age showed no such increase in likelihood.
How Do I Know If My Cat Has FLUTD?
FLUTD often causes blood to appear in a cat's urine. If you notice your cat coughing, sneezing, or acting lethargic and depressed, it may have FLUTD. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose FLUTD by examining your cat's bladder and urethra using a scope. The veterinarian can also perform tests on the urine sample to confirm the presence of crystals in the bladder wall. Once diagnosed with FLUTD, your vet will recommend treatment and pet meds options based on how severe it is for your pet.
Can FLUTD Be Prevented?
Keep your cat, and all pet supplies indoors. Feed a balanced diet like Hills Prescription Diet to help prevent urinary crystals from forming. Provide plenty of opportunities for exercise, especially if your cat is overweight or obese.
How Is FLUTD Treated?
FLUTD can be treated with pet medications, laser therapy, and/or surgery.
Medication: FLUTD is often treated with pet medicine to reduce the amount of urine produced by your cat. If you are not able to treat your pet's FLUTD through diet alone, your veterinarian may prescribe a drug called Furosemide for dogs and cats, which helps cats pass more urine than they normally would. In some cases, a drug called amlodipine besylate may be prescribed instead of Lasix.
Laser Therapy: A special laser light has been proven effective at treating FLUTD in small studies of cats that were otherwise healthy but exhibited symptoms of urinary tract disease.
Surgery: Some cats will require surgery if their FLUTD does not respond well to medical treatment or if it becomes too severe for other treatments to work effectively
If other measures don't work, surgery may be the only way to relieve the blockage and get the urine flowing again.
If other measures don't work, surgery may be the only way to relieve the blockage and get the urine flowing again. Surgery can be risky and expensive and cause complications such as infection or bleeding. It's also possible that surgery won't be effective, so it should only be performed by a specialist in feline urology who has experience with this procedure on cats.
In most cases, your veterinarian will recommend a combination of treatments in an attempt to relieve your cat’s symptoms. This may include pain medications, antibiotics for cats, and nutritional supplements such as cranberry capsules or fish oil. If other measures don’t work, surgery may be the only way to relieve the blockage and get the urine flowing again.