Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a frustrating disease for cats, their owners, and veterinarians as well. In some cases, an underlying cause can discovered, but frequently a cat will have repeated bouts of urinary problems for no discernable reason. Feline lower urinary tract disease is also sometimes called feline urologic syndrome or FUS.
Cats with FLUTD often strain to urinate, are uncomfortable when doing so, urinate outside the litter box, and produce small amounts of sometimes bloody urine frequently throughout the day. Male cats may become unable to urinate at all, which is a potentially life-threatening emergency. Some cases of FLUTD are associated with the development of crystals in the urine, bladder stones, and infection, but in many instances an underlying cause cannot be found. A veterinarian will make a diagnosis of FLUTD based on a cat's history, clinical signs, a physical exam, and the results of a urinalysis. Blood work, abdominal x-rays, ultrasound examinations, urine cultures, or other tests may also be necessary in some cases.
If an underlying problem can be identified, appropriate treatment can lead to resolution of a cat's symptoms. Some types of crystals and bladder stones can be dissolved with special diets or medications, but surgery may be necessary in other cases. A male cat that has become completely blocked will need to be hospitalized for procedures to clear the urethra and allow passage of urine, fluid therapy, and monitoring. Antibiotics may help some animals suffering from FLUTD. When no underlying cause can be uncovered, a cat's symptoms typically resolve whether or not they are treated over the course of a week or so, but intermittent flare-ups are likely. Increasing water consumption, special diets, anti-inflammatories, and other medications can reduce the intensity and frequency of these recurrences in some cases, but the condition rarely goes away completely.
Written by: Jennifer Coates, DVM
Last reviewed: October 2, 2008