Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a disease that results in inflammation of the bladder and/or the urethra. The condition may result in partial or complete obstruction of the urinary tract. Urinary obstructions are life threatening and require immediate treatment. The condition is usually due to the presence of small crystals in the urine.
The exact cause of FLUTD is unknown - there may be more than one single cause. It is a complex condition where a number of factors contribute to the development of the disease, including age, sex, obesity, diet and urine pH. Viruses and stress may also play roles in causing FLUTD.
Most signs result from urinary tract irritation. Your cat may be doing one or more of the following things:
* Spending prolonged periods squatting and may strain during urination.
* Continuously dig holes in the garden or get into the litter tray, straining to urinate.
* May only pass very small amounts of urine.
* Will attempt to urinate more frequently.
* May cry while attempting to urinate.
* Has blood-tinged urine (pink or red urine).
* Urinates in unusual places, for example, the bathroom sink or bath.
It may be difficult for you to tell whether your cat is trying to urinate or is constipated. If you are unsure, please discuss this with your vet.
If the urinary tract is completely obstructed (blocked), your cat may:
* Show any of the above signs.
* Be lethargic, vomit and have no appetite.
* Show pain when the abdomen is touched.
* Have a swollen lower abdomen.
For your cat's continued health and to keep them pain free, immediate treatment is vital. Even if your cat is showing just one of the signs mentioned above please do not hesitate to call our healthcare team to discuss your concerns. Depending on your observations we may suggest further monitoring at home or an immediate check-up with your vet.
When FLUTD is suspected, tests are required to confirm the diagnosis. This usually requires analysis of the urine. In some cases, x-rays and blood tests may be required to assess if your cat is in a critical or life-threatening situation.
If the bladder is blocked, a general anaesthetic is required to relieve the obstruction, flush out the urethra and place a tube (catheter) into the bladder to allow drainage. Intravenous fluids are usually required. This is usually followed by a period of hospitalisation.
When your pet returns home, they will be confined indoors for 3-4 days. Occasionally a re-blockage occurs, so we need to ensure that your cat is able to pass urine daily by using a litter tray.
At home, the condition is managed by altering your cat's diet. Only diets prescribed by your vet are suitable to dissolve the crystals. It is also important to stop all other sources of food, including scraps and treats. The prescription diet will not work if other food is eaten. We must also point out that there are no products available from supermarkets or pet shops that can assist in treatment. Your vet will advise the length of time your pet should have an exclusive prescription diet, after which point their urine will be checked again for crystals. If the urine is normal, then the diet will be altered to a maintenance diet.
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