FLUTD or feline lower urinary tract disease is a common cause for many feline emergency veterinary visits. This condition comes in two forms the obstructed and non obstructed forms. In some cases the unobstructed form can progress into the obstructed form which is a life threatening, emergency condition. In this article I’m going to focus more on the obstructing, life threatening form of the disease. The causes of FLUTD are numerous and can be very different from each other. They include trauma, urinary stones, a mucus plug, UTI, no discernible cause, underlying kidney disease, and various other etiologies. However, inflammation of the urinary tract is the result.
Common signs that your cat is in urinary distress include blood in the urine, straining to urinate, urination outside the kitty box, lethargy, frequent urination, vocalization while attempting to urinate, and a painful abdomen. Many owners present their cat as straining to defecate which sometimes appears similar in terms of the cat’s discomfort. Some cats are observed grooming their nether regions frequently. Felines suffering from this condition can exhibit one of the above signs or many of them.
There are several risk factors for FLUTD felines. While FLUTD can occur in both male and female cats, male cats are more prone to developing the life threatening, obstructive form. They have a long, narrow urethra that can become blocked more easily than the female’s shorter, wider urethra. Obese cats are more prone to developing FLUTD. Diets high in minerals or with a high(alkaline) PH can predispose cats to developing FLUTD.
Now, what should you do when you see these signs in your beloved pet. The best answer is prompt veterinary attention. If your kitty is blocked and unable to urinate, he will buildup urine, distending his bladder. This can lead to electrolyte abnormalities that can be life threatening. The bladder itself can be ruptured by the buildup of urine that has no way to escape. Even if unblocked the inflammation of the urinary tract can be very uncomfortable just like if you had a UTI.
Once your kitty has been examined, we will often recommend treatment which may consist of bloodwork, intravenous fluids, relieving the obstruction by passing a urinary catheter, more fluids, and trying to identify what caused your kitty to develop this condition. Medications will be given to reduce inflammation, sedate, and provide pain relief to your pet. Radiographs can be useful to identify causes such as urinary stones, but not all stones are able to be seen on radiographs. Abdominal ultrasound is a way to see the stones that can’t be seen on radiographs. A urinalysis will be performed help identify the cause as well as urine culture for repeat offenders to identify any bacterial agents. Your cat will likely need to remain in the veterinary hospital for twenty four to forty eight hours to ensure that they do not obstruct again. One frustrating factor about FLUTD in our feline friends is the fact that a definitive cause cannot always be determined.
If you notice any of the signs of FLUTD in your kitties, please don’t wait to take them to the veterinarian. Prompt treatment can prevent a life threatening condition. Depending on the cause of your cat’s distress, your veterinarian may be able to recommend changes to help you prevent further episodes.