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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Urinary Tract Disease can affect your feline friend and here are some facts you need to have to prevent it.

Dr. Amy Hii is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduated from the University of Melbourne and has been practising veterinary medicine for the last five years in Melbourne, Australia.

Owning a cat is a privilege, much like with any other pet, and you are completely responsible for its welfare and this includes feeding it an adequate and nutritious diet, shelter whether it is an indoor or an outdoor cat, and of course keeping up to date with vaccinations and regular check-ups.

Other than these basics, there’re of course love and attention that every pet deserves. A way to show your feline companion love is ensuring that it leads a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and cleaning out its litter box, daily. A clean litter box with litter that that your cat likes is one of the ways to prevent Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, a broad term for conditions that affect a cat’s urinary tract especially the bladder and urethra.

To find out more about Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), we speak to a veterinarian, Dr. Amy Hii, who will also educate us on how to prevent your cat from contracting FLUTD.

1Twenty80: What are the symptoms of FLUTD?

Dr. Amy Hii:

Symptoms include urinating in places outside the litter tray, blood in urine, straining to urinate, urinating more frequently than usual, and even urethral blockage (unable to urinate at all).

1Twenty80: What causes FLUTD?

Dr. Amy:

The most common cause is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) but some other medical conditions that can also cause FLUTD include urinary stones, urethral plugs, urinary tract infection and bladder neoplasia.

1Twenty80: What are the risk factors for FLUTD?

Dr. Amy:

Risk factors for FIC include being a male cat, overweight, living an inactive lifestyle, in multi-pet households particularly if there is conflict between animals, anxiety and many others.

In terms of urinary tract infections, older animals are much more vulnerable especially if they have an underlying disease such as diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism.

1Twenty80: How is FLUTD diagnosed?

Dr. Amy:

Firstly, the vet will examine the cat physically. This is important to ensure that the cat’s bladder is not hard and full which may indicate that the cat has a urethral blockage which is a medical emergency. Next, a urinalysis of a fresh urine sample is critical to rule in or out medical conditions like an infection, the presence of crystals or diabetes. It may also be recommended to take an x-ray of the cat’s abdomen, ultrasound the bladder and/or to run a full blood test.

1Twenty80: How is FLUTD treated?

Dr. Amy:

There are different treatments for different causes of FLUTD. If the cat has a urethral obstruction, the vet may need to pass a urinary catheter to relieve the blockage. If there are stones in the bladder, surgery or a stone dissolving diet may be required depending on the type of stone it is. Antibiotics are usually only indicated if an infection is found. Most cats will require pain relief and anti-inflammatories.

1Twenty80: What are lifestyle modifications that can help prevent recurrence of FLUTD?

Dr. Amy:

In addition to nutritional management, environmental enrichment also plays a crucial role in reducing the occurrence of FLUTD. Lots of opportunity for playing and resting should be provided. This can be achieved with various scratching surfaces, toys, climbing platforms, and importantly, hiding spots.

Any changes to the cat’s routine such as the introduction of new food should be made slowly. If there is more than one cat in the household, owners should try to reduce stress by minimising conflict between cats. This can be achieved with a pheromone spray or diffuser and addressing any triggers.

Litter boxes must also be maintained adequately. I use the +1 rule where there should be one more litter box than the number of cats in the home. So if you have three cats, there should be four litter boxes in your home. The litter boxes need to be scooped daily and cleaned out completely at least once a week. Wash them out with warm soapy water every few weeks. Different cats may also have different litter type preferences. Cats also do not like trapped odours so placing litter trays in a well-ventilated area and replacing old trays is important.

1Twenty80: What is your message to our readers on FLUTD?

Dr. Amy:

FLUTD can be a complex issue involving several factors for your cat. If the cat has had urinary issues, it is important to try and identify the cause so that it can be addressed. From there, the vet can then tailor recommendations according to their findings and the individual cat. Please do not wait to see a vet if your cat is straining to urinate, vocalising in pain or is having recurring urinary signs.

Owners should try to keep their cat at their optimum body condition or weight, feed a good quality well balanced diet, reduce stress, and provide lots of mental stimulation at home.

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