Caring for Cats with Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Being a cat owner is a wonderful experience, and in a perfect world, both you and they will be happy and healthy each day. But unfortunately, cats are not immune to distressing diseases, such as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). If you have noticed that there is something off with your cat, this just might be the culprit that is causing them their discomfort. Caring for cats with urinary tract disease can sound tricky, but to shed some light on the subject, here is an overview of what to look for and what to expect.
What Is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is an umbrella term that describes a vast range of conditions that cause adverse effects on your cat’s bladder and urethra. This can occur at any age but is typically more frequent in middle-aged and overweight cats. In most cases, this is not life-threatening, but it can significantly lower your cat’s quality of life if left untreated.
The Common Causes
There are many different causes of FLUTD that can illuminate painful inflammation in your cat.
- Urinary Calculi, or Bladder Stones: This makes up about 20% of the cases in cats under age 10. This means there is a collection of minerals that formed in your cat’s urinary tract.
- Bacterial Infections: Though primary bacterial infections are rare in cats, secondary ones can occur and cause complications.
- Neoplasia: This is when a cat has a bladder or a lower urinary tract tumor.
- Anatomical Abnormalities: This is especially seen in younger cats who have had persistent or chronic urinary tract issues.
- Urethral Plugs – Urethral plugs is when there is a blockage of the urethra caused by crystals, small calculi, stones, or inflammatory material.
What Are the Symptoms?
When your fun-loving cat starts showing these significant FLUTD signs, this should be your red flag to know that there is something going on that needs to be diagnosed.
- They are straining when urinating
- Urinating, but only in small amounts
- Frequent or prolonged attempts to urinate
- Crying out in pain while urinating
- Excessive licking of their genital area
- Urinating outside of their litter box
- Blood in their urine
If you notice the signs above and take your cat to the vet, your vet will focus on discovering the underlying cause of their FLUTD, including lab testing and doing x-rays to see if there are any blockages. Once the results come back and they know what is going on, they will order the proper antibiotics for your cat if this is a bacterial infection, and take further custom action if the initial cause is more severe, such as the surgical removal of stones. They will also go over key things with you that you can do at home to prevent this from happening again.
*Many times, FLUTD will remediate on its own, but even if it does and you notice it reoccurring, you will still want to seek medical attention to figure out how to stop that from happening.
What you Can Do as the Owner
Believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do right at home that can help your cat both recover and prevent FLUTD from occurring again in the future. Based on your cat’s particular circumstance, your vet will be able to guide your further on the proper actions to take. But in a general sense, here is what will help all around.
- Feed your cat small, frequent means regularly.
- Some urinary conditions tend to respond better to specialized diets, so consult with your vet on the best diet to go with for your cat.
- Reduce their stress levels (minimizing major changes in routine, lower emotional and environmental stresses, etc.)
- Provide them fresh, clean water at all times.
- Ensure that litter boxes are in quiet, easily accessible places and cleaned regularly.
No one likes to see their cat in pain, and trying to pinpoint the issue with the language block can be tough. Though owning a cat with a disease was probably not something you ever looked forward to doing, do recognize that it is manageable. With the right diagnosis, treatment, and preventative measures to avoid future cases, your cat will be able to get back their quality of life in no time. And always remember, if you have a hunch that your cat has FLUTD but is not showing all the signs (yet), call their vet to set up an appointment to be on the safe side.