Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a condition that is very common in cats, especially young cats.  The urinary system consists of two kidneys, two ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys), a bladder for urine storage and a urethra, which is a tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world.  The ureters, bladder and urethra all contain muscle to assist the movement of urine in the correct direction.  FLUTD causes blockage of the urethra -difficulty and pain when the cat attempts to urinate.  Imagine how painful that would be!
FLUTD is made up of a number of different causes.  The main components include:

  • Crystals and Stones– These can form in the urine of both cats and dogs, but occur more commonly in cats.  Stones can lodge in the ureters or urethra and cause a physical obstruction.
  • Stress– This can cause spasm in the muscle of the urethra and result in a mechanical obstruction rather than a physical one.
  • Inflammation of the bladder or urethral wall.
  • Infection– This is not strictly part of FLUTD in young cats but can complicate the situation.

Some risk factors for FLUTD are overweight or obesity, indoor cats, dry food diets and stress.  Male cats are more likely to become ‘blocked’, or unable to pass urine, than female cats are.  If your cat is affected, apart from difficulty passing urine, you may notice him or her urinating more frequently or in inappropriate places, blood-tinged urine, or excessive licking of the genital area.
It is important to have your cat treated quickly when you notice these signs.  Aside from pain and discomfort, if your cat becomes blocked, this can lead to severe illness, irregularities of the heartbeat and eventually, death.  The vet’s first priority will be to relieve blockage and drain the urine with a urinary catheter.  Dietary changes or medications may be recommended.  In male cats that have the problem repeatedly, the vet may recommend a surgery to shorten the urethera.

Did your cat go through this painful ordeal? What helpful tips can you give those of us with suffering cats to help ease their pain? Please share in the comments below.

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