The various types of urinary and bladder problems affecting cats fall under the veterinary heading of feline lower urinary tract disease. If you notice Kitty experiencing any kind of urinary difficulties, take him to the vet as soon as possible. The worst-case scenario is urinary blockage, a life-threatening situation.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Previously known as feline urologic syndrome, or FUS, feline lower urinary tract disease covers any issues with the kidneys, bladder, ureters -- the tubes sending urine from the kidneys to the bladder -- or the urethra, dealing with ability to urinate. While kidney failure is common in older cats, symptoms and treatment are quite different. Cats with kidney failure usually pee too much, not too little. Causes of FLUTD run the gamut, from infection to cancer.
Cats suffering from cystitis aren't obstructed, or completely unable to urinate, but their urethras are inflamed and peeing is painful. Your vet diagnoses cystitis via a urinalysis, looking at the pH level of the urine and what type of crystal appears. Kitty might receive medication to reduce inflammation, along with antibiotics, while your vet recommends dietary changes to prevent a recurrence.
Feline bladder stones generally consist of either struvite or calcium oxalate materials. To make a diagnosis, your vet X-rays or ultrasounds Kitty's bladder. Treatment depends on the type of stone and how it's affecting Kitty. Struvite stones eventually break down with special diets. That's not the case with calcium oxalate stones. Your vet will probably perform a cystotomy, or surgery for stone removal. In some female cats, your vet might be able to flush out calcium oxalate stones, because a female cat's urethra is wider than that of the male.
No matter what type of FLUTD your cat is eventually diagnosed with, the symptoms are quite similar. You'll see Kitty going in and out of his litter box, straining to pee. He'll lick his privates to ease discomfort. There might be blood in the urine he does produce, or he could begin having urinary "accidents" all over the house. If he's blocked, he could start crying out from pain. Whatever the actual diagnosis, FLUTD is a potentially fatal condition. Take Kitty to the vet as soon as possible.
Cats experiencing one episode of FLUTD might do so again, so that's a nightmare you want to prevent. Your vet might recommend a special prescription diet for Kitty. Since stress might be a factor in FLUTD episodes, try and keep Kitty's routine regular and provide a quiet living situation. Keep litter boxes extremely clean, providing at least one litter box per cat in the household. Make sure Kitty always has access to clean, fresh water. Keep him at a healthy weight.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.