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Common Conditions - Articles of Interest - Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease - (FLUTD)

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease - (FLUTD)

What is FLUTD?

In the majority of cats with signs of lower urinary tract disease (LUTD), the cause is unknown and these cats are characterised as having idiopathic lower urinary tract disease or feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). Stones or uroliths are the next most common condition, with struvite uroliths increasing in proportion to calcium oxalate uroliths in recent years. These conditions are the three most commonly diagnosed lower urinary tract problems in cats.

Risk factors associated with FLUTD

A multimodal approach is recommended for the management of feline urinary tract disease. The approach includes identifying and controlling underlying medical disorders, modifications to the cat’s home environment, addressing behaviour issues, and dietary management. Giving an appropriately formulated food is a key element of the complete approach to the long-term management of the most common conditions of FLUTD in cats

  • Food – High levels of certain minerals in food can increase the chance of crystal formation. Food also influences the acidity/alkalinity of urine, which can lead to crystal formation. High urine pH can contribute to the production of struvite stones, while low urine pH can produce calcium oxalate stones.
  • Behaviour – Lack of exercise, confinement indoors, reduced water intake and even dirty litter trays may cause your cat to urinate less often, which can lead to the development of FLUTD.
  • Body Condition – Excess weight also predisposes a cat to FLUTD.
  • Gender – Urinary obstruction is more common in younger, male neutered cats.

Signs of FLUTD

FLUTD can be uncomfortable, and, if a blockage occurs, extremely dangerous. Recognising the typical signs is critical.

  • Abnormal urination, including blood in the urine, abnormal color of urine, excessive straining to urinate, or passing urine frequently in small amounts.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Behavioural changes, such as restlessness, listlessness, hiding or refusal to eat.
  • Changes in the pattern of urination, such as urinating outside the litter pan or in unusual places.

Home Care

  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh water at all times. Feeding canned food can be helpful in increasing water intake.
  • Feed only the food recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Do not give any extra treats, food scraps or vitamin supplements.
  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh water at all times. Feeding canned food can be helpful in increasing water intake.
  • Encourage exercise whenever possible.
  • Keep the litter pan clean and fresh.
  • Once a cat has suffered from FLUTD, a food specifically designed to limit crystal formation should be fed to reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Periodic urinalyses are important in the management of this disease.

Feeding recommendations:

Cats suffering from struvite stones benefit from a food low in magnesium and phosphorus, which produces a normal, acid urine pH. Cats suffering from calcium oxalate stones benefit from a food with optimal levels of sodium, magnesium, phosphorus and added potassium citrate, which helps produce a more alkaline urine pH.

Feeding tips:

  • If your vet has recommended a new diet, gradually introduce the new food over 3 weeks by mixing the new food with the old.
  • If your cat is reluctant to try a new food, warm the canned product to body temperature or hand feed.
  • Be patient but firm with your cat, because success depends on strict adherence to the new food.


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