Cat Health

FUS/FLUTD and Urinary Problems

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is also known as Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS). This condition affects our bladder and can also affect our urethra. FLUTD is a serious disease/condition and can be lethal if left untreated.

What Are the Signs?

There are many signs that we cats may exhibit if we are suffering from FLUTD. Here is a partial list of signs to look for:

  • Frequent trips to the litter box and not producing urine (or a small amount)
  • Abnormally long sessions in the letterbox with squatting or straining
  • Frequent urination
  • Abnormal urination or urine drops outside of the litter box
  • Painful urination (causing meowing, howling or hissing)
  • Frequent licking of the genital area (especially after a trip to the litter box)
  • Blood in the urine
  • One sign I personally exhibit is I will lower my tail so the tip touches the ground (especially after using the litter box) and will walk slowly and low

Signs that indicate the progression of FLUTD:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Depression

Some FLUTD sufferers will develop crystals in their urine. This is particularly dangerous with us male cats since the crystals can block the urethra and prevent us from being able to urinate at all! If this happens our kidneys will shut down in as little as 24 hours, causing paralysis and death.

What Are the Causes?

There are many possible causes to FLUTD, ranging from bacterial infections, viral infections, bladder stones, crystals in the urine, tumors, congenital defect, stress, food, minerals in water and more. In most of the cases the cause is never diagnosed. As some of the causes are under your control you can help prevent FLUTD in your friend. Some ways to help are:

  • Always have fresh distilled water available for your feline friend. If your house has many rooms place a dish of water in several locations. Distilled water is best to use since it contains little minerals and foreign objects in it.
  • Foods specially formulated to help dissolve crystals (several manufactures of feline foods produce prescription foods formulated to help prevent and/or help FLUTD. These include Hill’s, Purina and Iams Eukanuba. Talk to your vet to determine if you should consider a diet designed to help prevent FLUTD and what food they recommend)
  • Reduction of stress for your feline friend (unlike dogs, we are not social animals. Forcing us to be with new animals, people, foods and homes can cause us stress. I am not saying we will not accept changes in our lives, just make sure to take the time to properly introduce us to the changes.)

What Will the Vet Do?

If you notice any of the signs above and take your friend to the vet (please do, I cannot stress how dangerous this condition is), they will have to examine your friend to see if FLUTD is involved. The vet will usually start by examining your friend’s bladder by hand. Often the bladder will feel small and hard or large and swollen. The vet will then express the bladder over a sink or container to see if your friend is able to urinate or is blocked. If urine is unable to be collected because of blockage, the vet will have to extract a sample from the bladder by inserting a needle through your friend’s abdomen to the bladder. Sometimes they will opt to extract the sample and empty the bladder with a catheter.

The vet will likely check the urine sample for crystals, bacteria, blood and white blood cells, as well as check the pH of the urine and how concentrated the urine is. Depending on the results of the test and if the bladder expelled with ease, the vet may also take x-rays to look for stones or tumors.

How Will They Treat It?

Assuming that your friend is not in a bad way, the vet will likely recommend a special diet for your feline pal. Often the diet will be a prescription diet and may be for your friend’s lifetime or a few months.

The vet may give your friends fluids to prevent dehydration and help flush the bladder. The fluids will usually be given by injection or intravenously. You may also be told to make more water accessible to your friend, placing more bowls around the house is the best way to do this.

If the vet has determined that bacteria is present in the bladder or urine, they may decide to place your friend on antibiotics. If the bladder or urethra is irritated or swollen the vet may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory.

If your friend is blocked, then the vet will have to anesthetize and catheterize them. The catheterization is to remove the block and flush the bladder out. At this point your friend will likely have to be hospitalized with the catheter in place for at least 24 hours and until the crystal count can be lowered enough to not block again.

If the FLUTD is not clearing and has been reoccurring with great frequency, surgery may be considered, but that is subject to another article.

In A Nutshell…

FLUTD is a dangerous condition and should be taken seriously. Once your cat has suffered from FLUTD, they are at in increased risk of suffering more occurrences and all it takes is 24 or less hours to kill your friend! If you notice any of the above listed signs in your friends behavior, please take them right to the vet or emergency animal clinic (if it is after vet hours).