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Urinary Tract Disease

Upper Respiratory Tract infection - see under Cat Flu

Urinary Tract Disease (or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD)

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) affects the cat's urinary bladder and sometimes the urethra (the tube-like structure that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body).

The term FLUTD is broad and covers a number of conditions of the urinary tract in cats. Cats are often presented with signs of cystitis.


  • Prolonged squatting or straining in or out of the litter box (some owners may confuse this with signs of constipation) and not producing urine or only a small amount
  • Frequent urination or straining
  • Pain while urinating and crying out while urinating
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent licking of the genital area
  • Vomiting and inappetance
  • Depression

Some cats with FLUTD develop crystals in their urine. In the male cat, these crystals can block his urethra (the tube-like structure that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body) preventing him from urinating even though the bladder still fills.

A plug can form in female cats and also block the urethra.

Causes of FLUTD

Several factors can contribute to this disease including bacterial or viral infections, trauma, crystals in the urine, bladder stones and tumours of the urinary tract in older cats.

In many cases, the cause is never discovered. Factors that may contribute to development of FLUTD include:

  • Not drinking enough water especially when fed a dry diet only
  • A diet high in magnesium or other minerals
  • Too much acidity or alkalinity of the urine
  • Stress
  • Urethral plugs (blockage of urethra with a mixture of crystals or small calculi/stones and inflammatory material)
  • Inflammation for no known cause


  1. If there are crystals, the type of crystal is determined and nutritional changes are often made. Special diets are often continued for the life of the cat. For cats that will not eat these special diets, urinary acidifiers are sometimes given if indicated.
  2. Cats are encouraged to drink more water and change to a wet food diet.
  3. Cases of inflammation with no known cause, may respond to treatment with anti-inflammatory or analgesic ('pain-relieving') drugs, but it is crucial that you only use drugs specifically prescribed by your veterinary surgeon, as many human products are extremely dangerous to use in cats. These anti-inflammatories may take the form of a series of injections given over a 10 day period (on days 1, 2, 5 and 10) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops prescribed by your veterinarian, or both.
  4. If a bacterial infection is thought to be the cause, antibiotics are prescribed.
  5. If the cat is 'blocked,' he is anaesthetised and a small catheter is passed first into the urethra to remove the obstruction, then into the bladder to flush it out. The cat is generally kept in the hospital on fluids and antibiotics.
  6. If the FLUTD is caused by tumours, surgery may be necessary.

Upper Respiratory Tract infection - see under Cat Flu