Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Regarding [#Pet Name], here is some information about Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)


FLUTD affects the cat’s urinary bladder and sometimes the urethra (the tube-like structure that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body)

FLUTD is a broad term which includes all conditions of the lower urinary tract that lead to inappropriate urination.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) - Agoura Hills Animal Hospital


Several factors can contribute to this disease including bacterial or viral infections, trauma, crystals in the urine, bladder stones, tumors of the urinary tract, and congenital abnormalities. In many cases, the cause is never discovered. Factors that may contribute to development of FLUTD include:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • A diet high in magnesium or other minerals
  • Too much acidity or alkalinity of the urine
  • Stress


Cats with FLUTD usually show signs of:

  • Prolonged squatting or straining in or out of the litter box (some owners may confuse this with signs of constipation) and not producing urine or only a small amount
  • Frequent urination or straining
  • Pain while urinating (meowing or howling)
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent licking of the genital area
  • Vomiting
  • Depression


Diagnosis is based on:

  • Physical exam
  • Urinalysis

Since there are many possible causes, if the urinalysis does not reveal the cause, additional tests are recommended:

  • Blood test.
  • Urine Culture.
  • Radiographs
  • Ultrasound


The three most common causes of FLUTD are listed below:

  • Feline Idiopathic Cystitis: This is the most commonly diagnosed explanation for FLUTD. This is a diagnosis of exclusion (i.e. no other cause can be found). Stress, diet change, or changes in the household are suspected as the cause. These signs resolve on their own so treatment is aimed at preventing stress and reoccurrence.
  • Urethral Obstruction: This is the most serious of the causes because if the urethra is obstructed (blocked), no urine can pass and toxins build up resulting in illness and death. Treatment is urgent relief of the obstruction before kidney damage occurs. The obstructions usually are urinary stones crystalline material or thick mucous plugs. Further treatment involves fluids and antibiotics and a period of hospitalization to be sure urethral obstruction does not reoccur.
  • Urolithiasis (Urinary Stones): Large aggregations of crystals can form stones in the urinary tract. Surgical removal is the typical treatment for this condition. Special diets are recommended as a follow up to prevent the formation of new stones.

In general, no matter which condition is present, cat owners should follow the steps below to reduce occurrences and signs of lower urinary tract disease:

  • Feed small meals on a frequent basis.
  • For cats with a history of struvite formation, owners should feed diets that promote the formation of urine that is acidic. Most commercial diets do this. Avoid supplementing such diets with additional urinary acidifiers, because over-acidification can cause metabolic acidosis, impaired kidney function, and mineral imbalance.
  • Provide clean, fresh water at all times.
  • Provide an adequate number of litter boxes (usually one more than the number of cats in the household).
  • Keep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house.
  • Keep litter boxes clean.
  • Minimize major changes in routine

Other Information:

Cats with a urethral obstruction will show the above signs but will pass little or no urine and will become increasingly distressed. A urethral obstruction is an absolute emergency, requiring immediate veterinary treatment.

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