Common Diseases of the Feline Urinary Tract

Feline urinary tract diseases are a common and sometimes frustrating condition in cats. Any cat is vulnerable to a feline UTI. Fortunately, increased awareness of and research into the connection between diet and urinary tract disorders is making treatment and prevention easier.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that affect the feline urinary tract. Diet, environment, weight and age all affect a cat's susceptibility to the syndrome. Some of the conditions associated with FLUTD include UTIs, urinary stones and urethral blockage.

Disorders associated with FLUTD cause several typical symptoms:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Passing only small amounts of urine
  • Pain during urination; your cat may cry out
  • Blood in urine
  • Inappropriate urination outside the litter box
  • Incontinence
  • Urinary Tract Infections (Cystitis)

When bacteria builds up in the bladder, the bladder and urinary tract can become infected. A cat UTI is treated with a short course of antibiotics.

Tip: Stress and frequent dietary changes have been associated with cystitis in cats. Provide exercise and stimulation for your cat and keep feeding routines as regular as possible.

Urinary Stones

Many cats develop urinary tract stones or crystals, which irritate the bladder or block the passage of urine. The irritation associated with stones makes your pet more susceptible to a cat urinary infection. The cause is believed to be dietary and a low-ash diet may reduce the chance of stone formation.

Preventing Bladder Stones

A special prescription diet can dissolve and prevent reformation of bladder stones. These foods are available by prescription through your veterinarian and are formulated to provide suitable nutritional support for stone-prone cats.

Urethral Blockage

These hard, mineralized crystals can block the passage of urine through the urethra, causing a toxic buildup in the kidneys. This is a dangerous and potentially fatal condition. It is more common in male cats. If you suspect a blocked urethra, contact your veterinarian right away.

Symptoms of urethral blockage are similar to a UTI, but your cat will become increasingly distressed, often crying out in pain. This is a medical emergency for your cat; urination is impossible and the condition must be treated by a veterinarian. Surgery may be required if the condition repeats itself.

To prevent the formation of crystals:

  • Provide unlimited fresh water, filtered if possible.
  • Switch to a canned food. The higher moisture content reduces the concentration of the urine.
  • Feed smaller amounts of food more frequently.
  • Keep litter boxes clean and accessible to encourage regular use. Provide at least one box per cat.
  • A canned food diet is often preferable to dry kibble. Wet foods provide more fluid, which keeps your cat better hydrated and reduces the concentration of urine.

Other tips to prevent feline urinary tract infections:

  • Provide unlimited fresh water
  • Keep litter boxes clean and accessible
  • Put litter boxes in safe, stress-free locations
  • Feed smaller amounts more frequently
  • Avoid free choice feeding in favor of twice daily feeding
  • Maintain a healthy weight

As many as five percent of cats will suffer from a UTI at some point during their lifetime. A healthy diet and routine veterinary wellcare will ensure the best possible outcome.