Cat Urinary Tract Infections and FLUTD

While it is less common for cats to experience urinary tract infections than dogs do, cats still suffer from a variety of other conditions. Our Doraville vets discuss the symptoms of urinary tract infections and FLUTD in cats as well as what treatments are available.

What is Cat Urinary Tract Infection?

It is common for cats to experience urinary tract conditions, and although we may first think of it as a urinary tract infection, it is actually more likely to be a urinary tract disease.

If a cat does experience urinary tract infections (a UTI) it is more commonly the result of other conditions like an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus or if your cat is a senior over the age of 10

If your cat begins to display symptoms related to urinary tract infections then you will need to have them diagnosed by your vet who will then prescribe antibiotics for them.

If your cat has a urinary tract infection then they may experience symptoms that include straining to urinate, reduced amounts of urine, not urinating at all, pain or discomfort when urinating, passing urine tinged with blood and urinating around the house, outside of the litter box.

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above they may be suffering from a UTI but these symptoms could also be an indication of a feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD. 

Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD in cats

FLUTD, Feline lower urinary tract disease is actually an umbrella term that refers to numerous clinical symptoms. FLUTD can cause issues in your cat’s urethra and bladder, often leading the urethra to become obstructed, or preventing your cat's bladder from emptying properly. These conditions can be serious or even life-threatening if left untreated.

If a cat is suffering from FLUTD then urinating will be difficult and painful. They may also urinate more frequently, or in inappropriate areas outside their litter box (occasionally on surfaces that are cool to the touch such as a tile floor or bathtub).

What causes Feline Urinary Tract Disease

FLUTD is a complex condition to diagnose and treat since there are multiple causes and contributing factors to this disease. Crystals, stones or debris can gradually build up in your cat's urethra - the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of your cat’s body - or bladder.

There are other common causes of lower urinary tract issues which may be:

  • Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
  • Spinal cord issues
  • Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
  • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors

If a cat has little to no access to outdoors, eats a dry food diet or does not get enough physical activity, as well as being a middle-aged cat then are far more likely to be diagnosed with FLUTD, although cats of any age can get the condition. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since their narrower urethras are more likely to become blocked. 

Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households or sudden changes to their everyday routine can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.

Typically FLUTD is only a symptom of other more serious conditions and so it is imperative to have your cat properly diagnosed. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.

If your vet is unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your kitty may be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection called cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder.

Symptoms of FLUTD in Cats

some of the most common symptoms of FLUTD or urinary tract conditions are:

  • Inability to urinate
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate settings
  • Avoidance or fear of litter box
  • Strong ammonia odor in urine
  • Hard or distended abdomen
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

It’s critical that any bladder or urinary issue be treated as early as possible. Delays in treatment could lead to your cat's urethra becoming partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent your feline friend from urinating.

The symptoms above indicate a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Urinary tract infections in cats require veterinary care, as do cats suffering from FLUTD. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms above it's time to visit the vet. If your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain contact your vet, or the nearest emergency vet as soon as possible - your cat may be experiencing a veterinary emergency.

Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your kitty's condition. Radiographs, blood work, and urine culture may also need to be done. 

What does the recovery for FLUTD look like?

Ensuring that your cat receives care as soon as possible if you are concerned about possible urinary tract conditions is incredibly important to their health. The symptoms and underlying cause will dictate which treatment is prescribed, but may include:

  • Increasing your kitty's water consumption
  • Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
  • Modified diet
  • Expelling of small stones through the urethra
  • Urinary acidifiers
  • Fluid therapy
  • Urinary catheter or surgery for male cats to remove urethral blocks

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned that your cat may have symptoms of urinary tract disease? Contact our Doraville vets today to book an appointment.