Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
The term Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is not a diagnosis, but is used to describe the clinical signs associated with problems voiding urine. Disorders can include idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), uroliths (bladder stones), urethral plugs (blockage), anatomic abnormalities, cancer, infection and behavioral problems. The most common cause is idiopathic cystitis, but often times there is more than one problem leading to the signs. A 2001 study showed that 8% of cats at a veterinary teaching hospital presented for FLUTD signs.
Idiopathic cystitis signs include urinating outside of the litterbox, frequent urination, difficulty urinating, vocalizing during urination and bloody urine. The signs typically wax and wane and often follow stressful events. Some male cats will develop urethral blockage caused by mucous plugs. This condition has a lot of unknowns, but some studies suggest that indoor cats that eat exclusively dry food may be more at risk. Cats that are stressed may be at a higher risk. Stress isn’t always obvious in cats; it can be due to lack of control in their environment, boredom, living with other animals, living with children, etc.This disease is sometimes accompanied by obesity, separation anxiety, GI problems and heart problems. Owners often describe their cats as fearful, nervous or aggressive.
FLUTD is a frustrating disease and requires patience and long term management. Management involves increasing water intake, environmental enrichment and close observation so that episodes can be treated quickly.