Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common infections humans face. It is unpleasant and, at times, painful.
Did you know your cat can get urinary tract disease? Yes, cats can develop FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), which is just as uncomfortable.
FLUTD is a disease that affects the urinary tract in cats. This can lead to various conditions, including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and urinary obstructions in cats. While these are severe conditions, they can be treated, and in some cases, the cause of FLUTD can be avoided altogether.
This article will provide an overview of FLUTD and its symptoms in cats, discuss the possibility of recovery, and provide information on the life expectancy of cats with FLUTD.
What is FLUTD?
Feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD is a condition in which the urinary system in a cat becomes inflamed and irritated. This causes cats to urinate less often and produce smaller amounts of urine than normal.
Although the exact cause of FLUTD in cats is unknown, it is thought that it is related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environment factors include a multi-cat home or abrupt changes to its daily routine.
Types of FLUTD
FLUTD is presently used as a general term to describe the symptoms of a few syndromes that can occur alone or in combination. FLUTD can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
UTIs are caused by bacterial colonisation of the urethra or bladders and are most common in female cats. Obesity, improper grooming, diseases (such as kidney issues and diabetes), and physiological changes in the bladder or urethra are all risk factors for UTIs.
Cancer (Bladder or Urethra)
Cancer of the urethra or bladder is a rare but serious cause of FLUTD. A complete health screening is required in cats with FLUTD to rule out cancer, even if UTI, bladder stones, or FIC are suspected.
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
Felines with FIC have bladder inflammation that isn't caused by stones or bacteria. Unfortunately, FIC is equally bad as the other types of FLUTD and may still induce urethral blockage in male cats as their urethras are narrower and longer than female cats.
Bladder Stones (Urolithiasis)
Cats with UTIs may develop bladder stones. Stones not caused by infection are thought to be caused by a combination of diet and genetics. Bladder stones can be extremely painful or even fatal. Cats with bladder stones are at risk of urethral obstruction or the blocking of the urine exit, which can result in death within hours.
Symptoms of cat FLUTD
If your feline is or has been exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s best to bring them to the veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Apparent difficulty in attempting to urine
- Urine attempts that are frequent and continuous
- Distress cries during urination
- Urinating outside of their litter box
- Urine with blood traces
- Urine in tiny amounts (2-3 drops)
- Excessive licking of the genital area
Treatment for FLUTD
Fortunately for all cat owners, FLUTD is not inherently fatal; it only becomes fatal if it is not diagnosed on time. A responsible pet owner who spends a significant amount of time with their felines should be able to recognise the symptoms and bring their cats to a veterinary clinic.
The type of treatment prescribed will be determined by the root cause of the disease. Increasing water intake and encouraging frequent urination will help with FLUTD in cats. This is especially important for cats in Malaysia as the weather is always hot and humid.
If your cat does not drink water frequently, try incorporating canned food into their diet to keep them hydrated.
Cats with UTIs will most likely be treated with antibiotics by their veterinarian, and most will make a full recovery within a few weeks.
For cats with bladder stones, the treatment will include surgery to remove the stones and a prescription diet to reduce the risk of new stones forming.
Finally, for cats with Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), the treatment would range following the severity of the inflammation. A typical treatment plan for cats with FIC would include a mix of painkillers, a prescription diet, anti-spasmodic drugs, and environmental control.
Life expectancy for cats with FLUTD
If the disease is appropriately managed, your cats will live up to their normal life span.
It is important to note that the disease can easily recur once your cat's FLUTD symptoms have subsided. As a result, active disease management is required to ensure that your FurBaby has the best quality of life possible :)
Abrupt changes in your cat's environment can increase the likelihood of symptoms returning. As such, you should plan for stressful circumstances for your cat, such as moving or bringing in new pets or family members.
Prevention for FLUTD in cats
The symptoms of FLUTD may never or only seldom reoccur depending on the root cause. To reduce the likelihood of recurrence:
- Feed small portions of food regularly
- Discuss with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your cat – many commercial diets are acceptable, but customised diets are better for some urinary conditions
- Always provide clean, fresh water
- Place litter boxes in quiet, protected areas of the home
- Have two litter boxes for each cat in your home
- Keep litter boxes clean by scooping them twice a day and changing the litter weekly
- Minimise significant changes in routine
We hope this article has helped you learn more about FLUTD in cats. If your pet exhibits any unusual symptoms, it is critical to remain vigilant and consult with your veterinarian.
Regular vet visits for diseases or infections can be costly; consider getting pet insurance for peace of mind.