Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

What is FLUTD?

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is not a specific disease, but rather is the term used to describe conditions that can affect the urinary bladder of cats. In the majority of cats with signs of lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), the exact cause is unknown. Some more common causes include:

  • bladder stones
  • kidney problems
  • urinary tract infection

Risk factors associated with FLUTD

A multimodal approach is recommended for the management of feline urinary tract disease. The approach includes identifying and controlling underlying medical disorders, modifications to the cat’s home environment, addressing behaviour issues, and dietary management. Feeding prescription or specially formulated food is a key element of the complete approach to the long-term management of most common conditions of FLUTD in cats.

  • food – high levels of certain minerals in food can increase the chance of crystal formation. Food also influences the acidity/alkalinity of urine, which can lead to crystal formation. High urine pH can contribute to the production of struvite stones, while low urine pH can produce calcium oxalate stones
  • behaviour – lack of exercise, confinement indoors, reduced water intake, and even dirty litter trays may cause your cat to urinate less often, which can lead to the development of FLUTD
  • body Condition – excess weight predisposes cats to FLUTD
  • gender – urinary obstruction is more common in younger, male neutered cats

Signs of FLUTD

FLUTD can be uncomfortable, and, if a blockage occurs, extremely dangerous. Recognising the typical signs is critical.

  • abnormal urination, including blood in the urine, abnormal colour of urine, excessive straining to urinate, or passing urine frequently in small amounts
  • abdominal pain
  • behavioural changes, such as restlessness, listlessness, hiding or refusal to eat
  • changes in the pattern of urination, such as urinating outside the litter pan or in unusual places

Home care

  • provide plenty of clean, fresh water at all times. Feeding canned food can be helpful in increasing water intake
  • feed only the food recommended by your veterinarian
  • do not give any extra treats, food scraps or vitamin supplements
  • encourage exercise
  • keep the litter pan clean and fresh
  • once a cat has suffered from FLUTD, a food specifically designed to limit crystal formation should be fed to reduce the risk of recurrence
  • periodic urinalyses are important in the management of this disease

Feeding recommendations

Cats suffering from struvite stones benefit from a food low in magnesium and phosphorus, which produces a normal acid urine pH. Cats suffering from calcium oxalate stones benefit from a food with optimal levels of sodium, magnesium, phosphorus and added potassium citrate, which helps produce a more alkaline urine pH.

Feeding tips

  • if your vet has recommended a new diet, gradually introduce the new food over the days by mixing the new food with the old
  • if your cat is reluctant to try a new food, warm the canned product to body temperature or hand feed
  • be patient but firm with your cat. Success depends on strict adherence to the new food.

If your cat displays any abnormal symptoms, contact your local Greencross Vets for a checkup.