FLUTD is actually not a single disease; it’s a category that includes several disorders. The most common is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis(FIC). FIC involves inflammation by an unkown cause, but stress is thought to be a significant factor.
Urinary stones are another common disorder of FLUTD. Stones can be painful and very dangerous —- even life threatening if they create a blockage in the urethra, the passageway for urine to exit the bladder.
Blockage of the urethra may also be caused by a urethral plug. This is a very serious condition and frequently occurs in male cats with FLUTD.
Less common forms of FLUTD include anatomic defects, urinary tract infections, and behavioral disorders.
Types of FLUTD cases seen by vetrinarians:
FIC = 57%
Stones = 22%
Urethral plug = 10%
All other/ unknown = 11%
What Are The Causes And Risk Factors of FLUTD?
Minerals— cats need the right balance of minerals to maintain good urinary tract health. Too much of certain minerals can encourage the formation of crystals in the urine, which sometimes leads to urinary stones.
Food influences the pH or acidity of urine. Urine’s acidity is directly related to urinary tract health.
The pet food you feed should help your cat maintain a healthy body weight, because obesity can increase the risk of urinary tract problems.
Some characteristics of cats may increase the risk of specific FLUTD issues, such as a type of urinary stone called struvite. Primarily made of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate, struvite urinary stones are the most common type found in cats. Another common feline urinary stone is calcium oxalate, primarily made of calcium and oxalate.
Younger cats are more prone to struvite urinary stones while older cats are more likely to develop calcium oxalate urinary stones.
Some breeds are at a higher risk for certain types of urinary tract problems.
Urinary stones in general: Himalayan, Persian and Russian Blue
Calcium Oxalate Urinary stones: Burmese, Himalayan and Persian
Struvite urinary stones: Siamese
Urinary incontinence: Manx
Gender and Neuter Status:
FLUTD is common in both spayed female and neutered male cats. Risks for urethral plugs and calcium oxalate stones are higher in neutered male cats.
Other Health Problems:
A cat who has a history of urinary tract disease or who has had surgical procedures on the bladder or urethra may be at a higher risk of FLUTD. Kidney disease and obesity can also increase the risk of FLUTD.
What Are The Signs Of FLUTD?
It’s important to watch for these warning signs, especially if your cat is at risk of FLUTD. They may signal a problem or flare-up that needs medical attention. If you notice any of the following behaviors or signs, contact your vetrinarian.
1. Incontinence or “accidents” urinating outside the litter box
2. Urinating in new or unusual places.
3. Behavior changes such as restlessness, listlessness or hiding away.
4. Refusing to eat.
5. Increased grooming or licking of the urinary opening.
6. Pink, dark or blood stained urine.
7. Trying more often to urinate, without producing much urine.
8. Painful urination, sometimes expressed by vocalizing when urinating.
9. Straining to urinate or urinating in a tense, hunched posture.
A strained or hunched posture at the litter box may mean it’s difficult or painful for your cat to urinate. If accompanied by other signs listed above, it may indicate urinary obstruction, which needs immediate medical attention.