Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

feline-lower-utiFLUTD Diagnosis & Treatment for Cats in Mississauga

Feline lower urinary tract disease is a very common and troublesome problem in mature cats – up to 1 out of 10 cats will develop FLUTD. The disease occurs with equal frequency in both sexes, but can present immediate danger to males.

FLUTD encompasses the many different diseases that can affect a cat’s lower urinary tract. In some cases, cats develop FLUTD without any clear underlying causes. This is referred to as “feline idiopathic cystitis” or FIC.

Both stress and the presence of bacteria, crystals, or sand-like material and stones in the bladder can cause severe irritation and inflammation. Symptoms associated with cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) may include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Bloody urine
  • Urinating outside of the litter pan
  • Crying when trying to urinate either in or out of the litter box
  • Excessive licking of the genital area

The signs can sometimes be terribly vague; you will not necessarily know anything is wrong.

Please call us right away if you see any possible signs of straining, urinating out of the litter, or licking at the hind end. Your cat’s life could be in immediate danger.

Diagnosing Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

After we examine your cat, we will typically perform a urinalysis. The urinalysis may show evidence of infection and/or crystals/stones in the bladder, such as the presence of blood, protein, bacteria, and/or crystals in the urine. X-rays or ultrasound may be required to determine whether stones are present in the bladder and urethra.

Specific treatment depends on what is present on the urinalysis. Treatment may consist of antibiotics, analgesics, anti-anxiety medication, and/or a prescription diet to modify the urine and help dissolve crystals. Occasionally, surgery is required to remove a bladder stone. 

If a male cat is “blocked” or unable to pass urine, emergency treatment must start immediately.

What Is a Urinary Blockage?

FLUTD in male cats is critical because the male’s urethra is long and narrow. This makes him prone to blockage by crystal plugs or stones. When this occurs, the cat cannot urinate and toxic waste, normally excreted by the urinary system, builds up to deadly levels. 

When a blockage occurs, the bladder becomes grossly enlarged (can become grapefruit-sized), and understandably, the cat suffers extreme pain. 

Blocked cats eventually show signs of:

  • Straining to urinate and passing small amounts of urine outside the litter box
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse and excruciating death

Without veterinary attention, this can be fatal in a short amount of time. Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to save an affected cat’s life.

How Do We Treat a “Blocked” Cat?

If your cat is blocked, the veterinarian will administer sedation or anesthetic, put your cat on intravenous fluids, and pass a urinary catheter to remove the obstruction.

Other medications include pain control, anti-spasmotics, and anti-inflammatories.

Hospitalization is likely required for several days to stabilize and monitor him, as well as to ensure continued urine flow. He will also need blood tests to determine the degree of kidney damage.

When discharged, we will recommend a specially-formulated diet to dissolve any remaining stones and promote increased urination to flush out the crystals. We will dispense medication to assist with urine flow and to treat any infections.

How Do I Prevent My Cat from Developing FLUTD?

You can drastically reduce the chance of your cat developing FLUTD with the following precautions:

  • Allow access to plenty of fresh water in a shallow bowl, kept full – many cats prefer refrigerated, filtered water. Keep at least one source of water away from the food bowl.
  • Encourage urination – change the litter box daily; some cats will use it less if it is dirty.
  • Encourage exercise – provide toys for mental stimulation, and prevent obesity.
  • Feed a veterinary diet that discourages the common crystals.
  • Feed at least half of your cat’s food in canned form with water added to increase total water consumption, which significantly dilutes the urine. We call this a cat’s daily “soup”.

If you think your cat may have FLUTD, don’t hesitate to call us right away.

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