Formerly called FUS (Feline Urological Syndrome), FLUTD describes a variety of urinary tract problems that involve the bladder and urethra. A cat may develop tiny sandlike crystals (invisible to the naked eye) in their urine, which irritate the cat’s bladder.
The condition can be life-threatening if the crystals block the urethra. It is essential to get your cat to the vet if you suspect a urinary tract problem.
FLUTD is very common, particularly in male cats. Some common causes of FLUTD are infection, bladder stones, crystals, tumors, congenital defects, or injury. However, sometimes it is impossible to determine the cause of a urinary tract problem.
Here are some signs that your cat may have FLUTD:
· straining to urinate (squatting for long periods but producing very little urine)
· trying to urinate again and again
· urinating outside the box (very common complaint from cat owners)
· blood in the urine (which often results in a very strong ammonia-type smell, the kind that practically knocks you over when you are cleaning the litter box)
· frequent cleaning of the genitals
· acting depressed and lethargic
People sometimes wonder why a cat with a urinary tract infection tends to pee outside the box. It’s because the cat associates the pain of urinating with the litter box.
Cats don’t understand that no matter where they urinate, it’s going to hurt. It seems the more outrageous the location of the inappropriate urination, the worse the infection usually is. Cat owners have had their cat pee on everything from beds to people’s feet!
Vets believe that not drinking enough water, too much magnesium and other minerals in the diet, urine that is too acidic or alkaline, and/or stress can contribute to FLUTD. Some vets suggest feeding wet food because it increases the amount of moisture in the diet while also taking of other issues (in this case crystal formation). If your cat has FLUTD, the wet food must be a prescription diet that is specially for cats with urinary tract problems.
Vets don’t always agree on the course of treatment. It doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong. It just means that they have different solutions to the same problem.
There are two important parts to treating a cat with FLUTD: 1) controlling the diet to reduce the production of crystals and 2) increasing the amount of moisture in their diet to keep flushing out the urinary tract.
Cats are not great about drinking water from a bowl, which is why some vets prefer giving canned food. In addition, vets often recommend doing subcutaneous (subQ) fluids to help flush out the urinary tract.
In the wild, cats get moisture from their prey. Eating canned food is more similar to eating live animals than dry food is. Most people feed their cats dry food out of convenience. It is easier to free feed (where you leave food out all the time), and it is not as messy as canned food.
The best thing is to try to get the cat to drink more water on its own. You can try mixing some water in canned food. Leave bowls and cups of water in various places around your house. Sometimes just a different container will entice a cat to drink more. You might also want to consider buying a cat fountain, which constantly circulates fresh water.