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Feline Urinary Tract Disease: What You Need to Know

Feline Urinary Tract Disease: What You Need to Know

Feline urinary tract disease can be painful for your cat, and needs to be treated immediately since it could lead to a dire emergency situation. In this post, our Rock Hill vets explain the condition, symptoms, causes and treatment options.

What is feline urinary tract disease?

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) involves a number of clinical symptoms that can impact your cat’s urethra and bladder, often preventing the bladder from emptying completely or potentially causing blockage in the urethra that can prove fatal.

Urinating can be difficult or painful for cats with FLUTD. They may also urinate more frequently, urinate outside their litter box (sometimes on cool surfaces such as a bathtub or tile floor).

What causes and contributes to feline urinary tract disease?

Debris, crystals or stones can accumulate in the bladder or urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of your kitty’s body), making it difficult for your cat to urinate normally. The disease may have more than one possible cause. Other causes of lower urinary tract issues include:

  • Emotional or environmental stress
  • Bladder infection or inflammation
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Tumor or injury in the urinary tract
  • Spinal cord problems
  • Urethral plug (buildup of debris from urine)
  • Incontinence due to weak bladder or too much water intake

While cats of any age can get urinary tract disease, it’s usually diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who do not get enough exercise, have little to no access to the outdoors, or eat a dry diet. Male cats are more prone to the disease, as their narrower urethras are typically more prone to blockages.

Cats with endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism will also often have urinary tract infections.

Other factors such as environmental or emotional stress, using an indoor litter box, and sudden changes in everyday routine can also make cats more susceptible to urinary tract disease. Multi-cat households are also at risk.

It’s critical to determine the underlying root cause of your cat’s FLUTD, as it may be anything from infection to bladder stones, blockage or cancer. If your vet cannot determine the cause, the culprit will likely be cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

What are symptoms of feline urinary tract disease?

Common symptoms of FLUTD include:

  • Excessive licking of the genitals
  • Inability to urinate
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate places
  • Fear or avoidance of litter box
  • Strong odor of ammonia in urine
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Hard or distended abdomen

Left untreated, urinary problems may cause the urethra to become partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent your kitty from urinating. This medical emergency can quickly cause the bladder to rupture or kidney to fail. It can also be fatal if the obstruction is not removed right away.

How is feline urinary tract disease diagnosed and treated?

This could potentially be a medical emergency. If you suspect your cat may be having problems with their lower urinary tract, see your vet for immediate medical attention, especially if your four-legged friend is crying out in pain or straining to urinate.

To diagnose the issue, your vet will perform a complete physical exam, along with a urinalysis. A urine culture, blood work, ultrasound or radiographs may also be taken.

Urinary problems in cats may be serious and complex, so your first step is to contact your vet for immediate care. Depending on the prognosis, your veterinarian may prescribe one of these:

  • Fluid therapy
  • Urinary catheter or surgery for male cats to remove urethral blocks
  • Expelling of small stones through urethra
  • Urinary acidifiers
  • Changes in diet
  • Medication or antibiotics
  • More water consumption

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your cat may have feline urinary tract disease? Our emergency veterinarians, veterinary surgeons and team are here to help late at night, on weekends or during holidays outside of your regular vet's hours. Contact Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Rock Hill

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Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Rock Hill, accepts new patients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency/urgent care service welcomes all patients.

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