Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (flutd)


Flutd is one of the most common and frustrating diseases I see in cats. You may notice anyone or combination of the following symptoms:

i.    Frequent trips to the litter tray

ii.   Pain or crying when trying to urinate

iii.  Excessive licking of the genital area

iv.  Blood in the urine

v.   Excessive time trying to urinate

vi.  Trying to urinate with no urine production

You will need to bring your cat to us for an examination when you see any of these symptoms. This can sometimes be an emergency as your cats bladder may be blocked. Generally we will examine the urine, send a sample to the lab for bacterial culture and do a blood test. We may also recommend an X-ray or ultrasound of the bladder to rule out the presence of urinary stones and tumours.

The most common cause of flutd in cats younger than ten years old is what we call idiopathic (unknown cause) cystitis.  Stress is believed to play a big role in this disease and may be associated with rivalry between cats in a household. We recommend that you have a separate litter tray for each cat and one more. The litter trays must be kept very clean. The condition itself is also painful and this will result in vicious circle of pain and stress. Furthermore a lot of these patients are eating dry food. These cats are not consuming enough water and urine production is diminished. Your cat needs to produce a lot of urine to flush out the bladder and reduce the chance of crystal production. Also all the tissue debris that form in an inflamed bladder will be flushed out. These tissue debris are the most common cause of a plug that can block your cats penis. I cannot stress enough the importance of feeding a high moisture diet in the control of urinary tract disease.

When we examine your cats urine, we may also see crystals. Crystals can cause a lot of pain and irritation in the urinary tract. It is important that we examine a fresh urine sample immediately under the microscope as crystals will start forming after thirty minutes and we will get an inaccurate picture of what is happening in the bladder. We will also look for the presence of inflammatory cells, tumour cells and cells that may indicate renal disease. This urine sample you cannot collect for us as we do really need a very fresh sample. Our nurse will also measure the specific gravity(SG) of the urine which is an indication of the kidneys ability to concentrate the urine. The most effective way to control crystal formation is by flushing out the bladder and this can only be done by increasing your cats water intake. Feeding a wet(canned) food is the most effective way to do this.

Bladder infection:
Bacterial infection of a cats bladder is can only be diagnosed by collecting a sterile urine sample directly from the bladder. We may need to sedate your cat for this procedure as we place a needle directly into the bladder to retrieve the uncontaminated sample. The urine will be cultured and the lab will inform us of the best antibiotic to use. Generally in the unlikely case of a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics for up to three weeks may be prescribed.