Treating Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a general term applied to conditions involving the bladder, urethra and other parts of the cat urinary system. Common signs of FLUTD, formerly known as Feline Urologic Syndrome, include frequent urination, pain and discomfort while urinating, excessive cleaning of the genital area and blood in the urine.

Treating FLUTD depends on the source of the disease. Urinary stones (urolithiasis), cat UTI (urinary tract infections), urethra obstructions and the disorder Feline Idiopathic Cystitis are thought to be the most frequent causes of FLUTD. Here are some of the most common medicines, procedures, diet and environment-based therapies used to treat the symptoms of this widespread feline urinary problem.

Medication and Procedure-based Treatments

Prescription medications are often used to treat FLUTD associated with Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, which causes damage to the mucous lining of the bladder. Brand name drugs Elmiron and Adequan are prescribed to help regenerate the bladder's mucous lining and relieve pain caused by this disorder. Antibiotics and analgesics, or painkillers, are often used in combination to treat FLUTD due to feline UTI. This condition often occurs in older cats as secondary infections. Blockages of the urethra caused by urinary stones, or struvite plugs, are life-threatening situations that frequently effect male cats, due to their comparatively narrow and long urethras.

Emergency treatment generally involves flushing out the obstruction with special fluids. This is done through a catheter inserted into the cat's urethra. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the stones and restore proper function of the urethra and bladder. The procedure, perineal urethrostomy, requires removal of part of the penis, which creates a larger opening for stones to pass. This surgery may also be recommended for cats at risk for re-blockage. A cystotomy is another surgical treatment used for blockage-related FLUTD. In this procedure the stones are removed through an incision in the bladder.

Dietary and Environmental Treatments

A number FLUTD treatments related to feline diet and environment are recommended by both traditional and holistic animal care experts. These suggestions may also help prevent FLUTD symptoms through overall cat urinary health. Felines with FLUTD should be fed small amounts frequently throughout the day, instead of one or two large meals. Your veterinarian may prescribe a specially formulated food or suggest a commercial product that is low in magnesium and phosphorus. Diets containing high amounts of these minerals are thought to contribute to the formation of struvite bladder stones.

FLUTD cats should always have access to clean fresh water and a sanitary litterbox. Each cat should have its own clean litterbox, plus one extra. In addition to diet and hygiene, stress may also play a role in the development of FLUTD. Recent research has suggested a possible relationship between stress and the onset of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis. Moving and the introduction or absence of household members, including pets and people, are two big stress factors for many cats. Help reduce anxiety by establishing a consistent routine for your pet. Increasing play and interaction with your cat can also help reduce anxiety caused by boredom and isolation.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease can be the source of pain, discomfort and life-threatening emergencies for your cat. Although the symptoms may seem troubling, there are many methods to treat FLUTD. Veterinarians encountering this common feline urinary problem can provide treatment through prescription drugs, and, if necessary, sound medical procedures. Owners of cats with and without FLUTD symptoms can also make dietary and environment-based changes to help promote the health of their pet's urinary system.