Do you know why cat owners bring their pets to visit the veterinarian? If you answered for vaccinations or well pet visits, then you would be correct. However about 5 to 10 percent of the visits are due to the cats suffering from a disease called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Urinary tract health for your cat is extremely important. The most common clinical signs presented at the appointments will be that the cats are having litter box problems. Either they are urinating outside of the box or that they are spending too much time in the litter box longer and having trouble or a painful urination process.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease affects both sexes, and affects the bladder and urethra. Small, sharp crystals form in the bladder and irritate the lining of the cat’s lower urinary tract. As the crystals mix with more debris and blood, it can plug the urethra and prevent the cat from having the ability to urinate. Due to male cats having a narrower and longer urethra, they are seen more often and it tends to be a medical emergency.
The crystals that form contain Magnesium. One theory to explain the formation of the crystal is that some cat foods are high in minerals or ash. This seems logical, however it has not been reproduced by feeding high ash/magnesium diets to normal cats. Some pet food ash is necessary, but cheap cat foods are often higher than they should be.
Another possibility for the occurrence is the cats don’t drink enough water and crystals tend to form in more concentrated urine. However, like the food, it has not been able to be reproduced. So there may be other factors at work causing FLUTD.
The average cat is 3 to 4 years old when the signs begin. It is uncommon for cats under 1 ½ years of age to present with FLUTD. Older cats can present with FLUTD, but it is usually due to an underlying health or stress problem. For some reason, the Persian breed is more susceptible to the disease.
As stated before, the first thing that the owner will notice is that the cat is spending too much time in the box or urinating outside of the box. Careful examination of the litter or urine can reveal some blood in the urine. The cat may appear painful and their penis may be extended and bluish in color.
If there is no or very little urine with your male cat, then this should be considered a medical emergency. He needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If medical attention is not given, he may die in a short period of time due to kidney failure. Urination is how the body cleanses itself of toxic products. It is also important to keep the balance of minerals and water in the body. If the cat cannot urinate, then he will become depressed and the body systems will start to fail. When urine backs up in the kidneys, this can cause irreversible kidney damage. If left untreated, FLUTD can be fatal in 3 days.
When presented to your veterinarian, the cat’s bladder may be enlarged and painful. The urethra and penis may be swollen, so it will be important for the veterinarian to break down the blockage with as little trauma as possible and establish a urine flow from the urethra. A lot of times, the cat must be sedated in order for a traumatic passage of a catheter. Intravenous fluid therapy is usually indicated to restore the electrolyte imbalance and to flush out the blood toxins that had built up due to the blockage. Antibiotics are usually given to prevent more severe infections. Due to the urethral swelling, sedative and pain-relieving medications are sometimes indicated to help relax the cat’s urethra until the acute inflammation passes.
Most commonly, veterinarians will prescribe medication for your pet which possibly would include antibiotics and changing the cat’s diet. They may even prescribe feeding canned food over dry food to entice more water consumption. Other medications may be prescribed to reduce stress and pain. Sometimes FLUTD can recur. Under some instances, surgery may be needed to prevent blockage again. There are some complications that can occur because of the surgery though.
FLUTD can be a complicated and serious condition if not attended to. It is important to contact your veterinarian should the problem arise. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact here or call us at (618)-656-5868.