Urinary tract infections are common in women, but did you know they can also affect both male and female cats? Feline lower urinary tract disease (or FLUTD) can affect cats of all ages and types, but it is more common in cats with specific traits. If you are worried that your cat might have FLUTD, here is some more information about the disease.
Is There a Known Cause of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of FLUTD is unknown. There are a few risk factors that seem to have a strong correlation with the disease, including:
The disease is more common in female cats.
The disease becomes more common in elderly cats.
FLUTD is more common in sedentary, overweight cats.
Stressful events in a cat's life can sometimes make FLUTD more common.
- Low Water Intake
If a cat does not drink enough water on a day-to-day basis, it can cause problems with his or her urinary tract.
- Other Diseases
FLUTD happens more in cats with hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and kidney disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?
Some cats with FLUTD have no symptoms. If your cat does have symptoms, they will probably include:
- Painful or difficult urination
- More frequent urination
- Difficulty holding urine (which may lead to your cat urinating outside of the litter box)
- Bloody urine
- Licking around the urethra
- Blockage in the urethra
- Contracted bladder (which can cause the abdomen to feel harder than usual)
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you should take your cat in for an examination at your veterinarian's office.
How is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease Diagnosed?
Your vet will probably start by asking about changes in the cat's activity and performing a physical exam to see if the bladder appears to feel unusual from the outside. Then, your vet will ask for a urine sample from your cat. To look at all possible factors, he or she might also suggest a blood sample. By examining these two samples, your vet can look for bacteria or other causes of your cat's urinary symptoms.
How Is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease Treated?
There are a number of different treatments for FLUTD; your vet may use any combination of different treatments depending on your cat's specific test results. Here are some of the possible treatment options:
Antibiotics can be used to clear up a bacterial infection.
- Urinary Acidifiers
Urinary acidifiers are medications that lower the pH of your cat's urine. These are used to kill harmful bacteria in your cat's urinary tract.
- Dietary Changes
Using special foods designed for cats with urinary tract problems can lower the recurrence of urinary issues. Owners are also encouraged to make sure their cats get enough water each day.
If there is a urethral blockage in your male cat, your veterinarian may use a catheter to help clear it without invasive surgery.
In cats with severe blockages or bladder stones, more in-depth surgery to remove these problems may be necessary.
How is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease Prevented?
If you want to lower your cat's risk of contracting FLUTD, there are a few steps you can take.
- Monitor how much water he or she is drinking and use wet food instead of dry food.
- Reduce stress in your home. Try to avoid changing your cat's litter or food too much to avoid stressing him or her out unnecessarily.
- Have your cat's urine checked frequently. By having a yearly urine check at the vet, you can catch FLUTD early if it does occur.