A Guide to FLUTD Symptoms

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder, or FLUTD, is an umbrella term for a number of different but similar conditions that affect the cat urinary tract. Factors that affect a cat's susceptibility to FLUTD include diet, weight, age and stress levels.

FLUTD in cats may be the source of recurrent urinary tract problems such as:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Urinary stones
  • Urethral blockages

Typical symptoms may include any or all of these common symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst
  • 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)

acteria such as E. coli cause most urinary tract infections. Replicating rapidly in the warm, dark environment of your cat's bladder, symptoms will begin to appear. Urinating outside the litter box is usually the first sign.

Tip: Stress, boredom, obesity and repeated food changes have been associated with cystitis in cats. Provide exercise and stimulation for your cat and keep feeding routines as regular as possible.

Treat bladder infections immediately. An untreated infection can spread to the kidneys and lead to kidney infection and impairment. An infected kidney or ureter can lead to sepsis, a bacterial infection of the blood.

Bladder Stones

Many cats develop urinary tract stones. These hard, mineralized crystals irritate the bladder and can block the urethra. The irritation caused by stones make your cat more susceptible to urinary tract infections.

The primary cause of stones is believed to be dietary. A low-ash diet that features moister, canned cat food may reduce the likelihood of stone formation.

Dissolving Bladder Stones

Certain types of stones can be dissolved by special prescription diets available through your veterinarian. These nutritionally complete foods also prevent the reformation of stones and may be the right choice for your stone-prone cat.

To prevent bladder stones:

  • Provide unlimited fresh water.
  • Do not free feed. Feed smaller amounts of food regularly and more frequently.
  • Keep litter boxes clean and accessible to encourage regular use. Provide at least one box per cat.

A high quality canned food diet is often preferable to dry. Canned foods provide more liquid, which keeps your cat hydrated, flushes the bladder and reduces the concentration of urine.

Urethral Blockages

Bladder stones and crystals can block the passage of urine and create a very serious condition called urethral obstruction. When urine cannot pass from the system, toxins build up in the kidneys.

Warning: This is a dangerous and potentially fatal condition and common in male cats. Urinary blockage is a veterinary emergency.

If you suspect your cat is blocked, contact your veterinarian right away. Symptoms of blockage are similar to a UTI, but your cat will become increasingly agitated and distressed, often crying out in pain and passing no urine.

As many as 5 percent of all cats are subject to recurrent urinary tract infections. To prevent this painful and potentially dangerous condition:

  • 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

FLUTD can be managed and treated. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms and treat accordingly for the best outcome for your cat.