OVRS_iStock_000003458470XSmallMany cats suffer from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or FLUTD. This condition results in a myriad of symptoms including frequent and/or painful urination, blood in the urine, and straining to urinate.

There are many underlying causes for this disease, which can include bladder stones, blockage of the urinary tract, infection, cancer, or cystitis. Cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder, is the most common culprit.

While both male and female cats can suffer from FLUTD, it is of particular concern in male cats who have a smaller urethral opening. If the urethra becomes blocked, the bladder is unable to empty. This is a life-threatening condition. Any cat who is not urinating should be seen by a veterinarian on an emergency basis.

FLUTD is most often seen in young adult cats. Those who have predisposing conditions are at higher risk. These include stones or crystals in the urine, incontinence, an injury or a growth within the bladder, spinal cord disease, or abnormal urinary anatomy or function.

Perhaps the most common predisposing factor for many cats is stress within their life. This may be a result of a change in surrounding, human or animal interactions, or even an illness.

Common signs of FLUTD can include:

  • Bloody or very cloudy urine
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Straining or vocalizing while trying to urinate
  • Squatting unproductively in the litter box
  • Urinating in inappropriate places
  • Licking of urinary opening
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Firm, painful abdomen

Please see a veterinarian immediately if your cat is unable to urinate or is only passing small amounts of urine. Bladder inflammation is very painful, and a bladder obstruction is deadly. If your cat is indeed blocked, the obstruction will need to be relieved. Most cats suffering from this problem also need supportive care to help with resulting dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Long term recommendations will be made to decrease the likelihood of future FLUTD episodes.