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February 11, 2009

Health : Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Filed under: Health Care, Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 6:25 pm

This week has been a tough one for my sister’s cat Cassis. He was hospitalized last thursday as he had a blocked urinary tract. He was put under anesthetic , deblocked and flushed out. They kept him for a few days with a catheter in to monitor him. But, when they brought him home he was still peeing blood and in very small amounts. So, he went to my school on Tuesday to continue treatment. ( I’m currently studying to be a vet tech) We’re all hoping he’ll pull through!

This prompted me to write a post on urinary tract problems. I will discuss symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment. I think its important that people realize that this is a very common and sometimes preventable problem.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a broad term that covers a wide range of problems. Most cases involve bladder inflamation ( cystitis) , with or without bacterial infection, and with or without either struvite or oxalate crystals.

The symptoms of FLUTD vary but usually include one or more of the following:

  • Innapropriate elimination ( ie peeing all over the house) or frequent litter box trips that only produce droplets of pee
  • Painful or difficult urination ( dysuria)
  • Crying or yowling while trying to pee
  • Blood in urine  (hematuria)
  • obsessive licking of the genital area

If you notice any of the above symtoms you need to get your cat to the vet right away! This ia a critical condition as if the cat is blocked the urine cannot exit the bladder and can cause swelling to the point of bursting.

At the vet they will take blood tests to see if the cats kidney’s are functioning well. They will also do a urinanalysis to check if there is infection, and also examine the urine under the microscope to check for crystals.

If the cat is not blocked the treatment will vary due to the type of crystals found and the presence or absense of a secondary infection.

If the the cat is critically blocked the vet will put the cat under anesthetic, insert a catheter and  flush out the bladder. They will usually hospitalize the cat for a few days and keep the catheter in to give the bladder a chance to flush out and heal.

There are serval things that predispose your cat to getting urinary tract problems.

First of all there are two types of crystals that commonly occur in cats. They are struvite and calcium oxalate. Struvite tend to form in an alkaline urine PH( >7.0), while oxalate tend to form in very acidic urine PH(< 6.0). Struvite crystals are far more common in cats than oxalate.

  • Male cats > Female cats-This is because the male cats urethra is much smaller and shorter than the females, so if crystals form they are more likely to block.
  • Stress- usually due to sudden changes in the cats life
  • Obesity- Yet another problem that caused by letting your cat get fat!
  • Genetics- Vets think that genetics may play a role as well
  • Diet-  Cats fed a dry diet versus a wet one are much more likely to develop problems with struvite crystals.   This is because a dry diet causes the cat to produce a concentrated urine. Cats tend to not drink a lot and rely on thier diet to provide them with the water they need. When the cat is on dry food his bladder empties much less and this allows the mineral that form the crsystals to be able to get together easier, and it is also an ideal environment for bacteria.
  • Dry food is also high in carbohydrates which promotes an alkaline PH which is the enviroment that struvite crystals prefer.

Since you can’t do much about your cats genetics I think its important to focus on what you can control in your cat’s life namely diet and stress.

In my opinion all cats should be few either a canned food or raw food diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, they are not designed to eat cereal based dry food which is usually 40% grains. This causes a whole host of problems such as obesity, diabetes and of course FLUTD.

Raw food is the ideal diet as this will manage the PH so crystals don’t form and also be high enough in water content so that the cat is not dehydrated. This diet will also prevent obesity, as it is low in carbs which cause cats to gain weight as they can’t digest them properly. In addition it will promote good dental health.

If you don’t feel you can go to raw then at least feed a good quality canned diet. The canned diet will also prevent crystals as it is low in carbs and high in moisture. The only thing it doesn’t do is clean the teeth, so they will still have to be cleaned professionally.

Remember you have control over what your cat eats, so feed him a healthy diet and you’ll have many more years together!



  1. Wow. Sooo helpful and well-written. Thanks Mira!

    Comment by Aimee — February 11, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

  2. Thank you so much! I read about poor Cassis on the UtHC website and was very concerned for my own cat. Good to know about the wet food. We feed a combination, but will likely switch to more wet food now that we know. Thanks again!

    Comment by Lindsay — February 11, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  3. Thanks for this informative post. I have a cat that pees all over the house, but after alot of watching his patterns & behaviors think that it might be more of a matter of “convenience” than a health issue. However, I would prefer to feed a raw or at least canned diet more than I do. The problem with this is that whenever this particular cat (Bengal) eats canned food- he throws up. I’ve tried raw with the same results. My vet suggested that it was probably FLUTD, but this was without an examination, and the cat doesn’t really exhibit any of the symptoms of FLUTD other than peeing everywhere. If you have any suggestions and wanted to drop me an email, I’d love to hear from you!

    Comment by Shauna — February 11, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

  4. What do you think about dry cat food like “Acana” brand? (It has 0% grains.)

    Comment by Bethany — February 16, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  5. Lindsay- Glad I could be of some help!

    Shauna- Give me your email and I’d be happy to answer your questions… tried to look for it on your blog but couldnt find it. I’m a bit technologically challenged!

    Bethany- Acana and orijen both use good quality ingredients and I like that they are grain free. The only thing is that a pure dry diet is not great for cats. Cats evolved as deset animals and thus tend to not drink very much, so they rely on their diet to provided them with moisture. When they eat all dry food they develop very concentrate urine which predisposes them to crystals. Also cats tend to eat more dry food as it only reconstituted after some time in the stomach. In contrast wet food is usually 70% water so it provides a feeling of fullness faster. If you have a female at and want to feed some dry Acana would be a good choice, but also give a good quality wet food such as Wellness or Evo. If you have a male cat I would still feed 100% wet food or raw.

    Comment by myminizoo — February 17, 2009 @ 3:17 am

  6. Hey Mira! Thanks for the well written and informative post. So glad tha Cassis is better now. You’ll publish a book some day! Love your Blog. Thanks to big sista for the link!

    Comment by GrannySmith — February 18, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

  7. Our cat has FLUTD and has been on the Science Diet CD canned and dry for about 6 months. He really dislikes the wet, so we’re trying 2 other brands. A friend is using EVO and highly recommends it after noticing less throwing up and shedding. Would this be ok for a cat with FLUTD?

    Comment by KareBear — December 20, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

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