Feline Urinary Tract Disease – Causes and Treatments

Feline urinary tract disease (FLUTD), formerly called feline urologic syndrome (FUS), is actually a group of symptoms occurring in a cat secondary to irritation, inflammation and/or obstruction of the lower urinary tract. The bladder, urethra, and penile urethra may be involved. A cat with FLUTD may exhibit one or more of these symptoms. Veterinarians understand some of the factors causing FLUTD, but others remain unknown.

Anything resulting in debris in a male cat’s urine is capable of causing obstruction. This is the most common problem of the lower urinary tract. Males are therefore much more likely to acquire this syndrome than females. There is no way to prevent the symptoms only treat them. The treatments can vary from diet to surgery. If the owner watches closely and the disease is caught in its early stages, the cat must be watched for any recurrence after treatment is completed.

With a male cat you can try rubbing the penis between your fingers to cause the blockage to release if possible. Your cat needs emergency treatment if the urethra remains obstructed. Whatever the obstruction is, it will have to be removed surgically. Your cat will be put under general anesthesia and a catheter inserted into the urethra to dislodge any obstruction, then on to the bladder to make certain it is flushed out. Prompt treatment can mean the difference between life and death for your cat. Anti-inflammatory medicine will be prescribed with any bladder inflammation. Dimethyl sulfoxide (dmso cancer) has been used in humans and has also had some success in cats. Clinical symptoms may also be reduced for up to a year through treatment with amitriptyline.

The rate of recurrence is over 50%; usually triggered by a urinary tract infection. When a cause can be identified, it is most commonly caused by a bladder stone blocking the urethra. These stones (calcium oxalate uroliths) are often formed in reaction to commercial diets usually too high in magnesium in relation to the pH of the urine.

Symptoms of FLUTD include urinating outside the box, entering and leaving the litter box without urinating, frequent urination, urinating very small amounts, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, painful urination, your cat may cry when urinating. In male cats, when the urethra becomes blocked by small particles making urination impossible. If your cat becomes unable to urine, get to the vet immediately.

Several conditions can cause feline lower urinary tract disease, including blockage of the urethra by crystals or puss. The crystals that form from calcium oxalate in the urinary tract (uroliths) block the flow of urine. This condition is not caused by early neutering or constriction of the urethra and/or scarring of the bladder. They can be caused by very dry cat food, a dirty litter box, or inactivity. Acid levels in the urine become too high. Bacterial cystitis causes inflammation of the urethra. If your cat is on a dry food diet and begins having problems, consider changing to a moist diet. Cats that eat dry food urinate less often. Stress is one of the symptoms aggravating painful and difficult urination.

If you suspect feline urinary problems, your vet will perform a thorough physical exam. He will press on your cat’s bladder to see if it is full; this feels like a tennis ball sized structure which is the over distended bladder. Depression, vomiting and/or diarrhea, dehydration, loss of appetite, uremic poisoning and coma may follow within 24 hours. Your vet will then try to express urine from the bladder to see if your cat is able to urinate or if the urethra is blocked. He will collect a urine sample from your cat. If your cat can’t urinate, a sample will be obtained by using a needle inserted through the cat’s abdomen into the bladder. This procedure doesn’t hurt your cat. Relieving some of the pressure on the bladder may actually make him feel better temporarily.

Your veterinarian will conduct a urinalysis checking for crystals, white blood sells, bladder stones or bacteria in the urine. He may also take abdominal x-rays. If your vet can’t diagnose the blockage he may look further for anatomical defects or behavioral problems. Death most often results from uremic poisoning. In its advanced stages this may not be reversible even with removal of the obstruction and intensive treatment. The bladder may be damaged as a result.

Treatments for urinary tract problems include injecting fluids under the skin to help flush out the bladder. Your cat also needs to drink as much water as possible. Fresh water should be available at all times. If an infection is involved, antibiotics will be prescribed. Give him the entire course of treatment even if he seems to feel better. Cystitis or inflammation of the bladder must have their cause determined, then prescription medicines may be used to treat this condition. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements have been shown to prevent your cat from having a recurrence. A special diet may be recommended for your cat, suck as Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d.