Diagnosing Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a broad term that describes a number of conditions which affect a cat's bladder and sometimes the urethra, which is the tube that leads urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This disease was once referred to as feline urologic syndrome, or FUS. Symptoms are generally easy to recognize, but determining the underlying cause may be more complex. Early detection of feline lower urinary tract disease leads to a higher occurrence of successful treatment.

Signs of FLUTD

Signs and symptoms of feline lower urinary tract disease are usually the same, no matter what is causing the condition. You may notice your cat squatting or straining with no production of urine. This may take place inside the litter box, or in other parts of the house. Often, cats with FLUTD prefer cool, smooth surfaces over the rough consistency of litter. This infection will prompt them to seek out tile flooring, usually in a bathroom or kitchen. Frequent attempts at urination may be accompanied by meowing or howling due to pain. Cats will often lick their genitals profusely to help soothe the irritation, and you may notice blood in the urine. Sometimes crystals will form in the urine. This is especially important to check with male cats as only three crystals can plug the urethra, preventing urination and causing additional trouble for the bladder.

Causes of FLUTD

There are many factors that can lead to feline lower urinary tract disease. Lack of drinking water, high concentrations of certain minerals in the diet, and urine that is either too acid or too alkaline can all contribute. Stress can also be a factor. Often, the cause of FLUTD isn't as important as treatment, and sometimes it isn't known. Bacterial or viral infections can lead to this disease, as can tumors, bladder stones or trauma. Cats that have experienced this disease, even if they've undergone successful treatment, have a higher tendency to contract it again in the future.

Diagnosis of FLUTD

Upon suspecting feline lower urinary tract disease from the inspection of symptoms, a urine sample will need to be produced and tested. If the cat is unable to pass urine, a sample will be collected using a needle inserted into the bladder. This procedure is called cystocentesis. A urinalysis will determine levels of pH, bacteria, blood, white blood cells and whether or not crystals are present. X-rays may be necessary to check for tumors, bladder stones or any abnormalities of the area. If serious problems are suspected, blood tests may also be run.

Treatment of FLUTD

Feline lower urinary tract disease is treated depending upon the cause of infection. Bacteria can be combated with antibiotics. A complete blockage of urine will require a catheter to relieve urine, remove any obstructions and flush out the bladder. Fluid therapy will usually be recommended to treat dehydration and to flush out the bladder. Removal of tumors will require surgery, and when crystals are present a special diet and nutritional changes will be advised.