Feline Urinary Health problems in our feline friends is something that we see very commonly at Cedarmount .
Signs you may notice if your cat has a urinary tract problem include,
- Urinating in unusual places,
- Frequent visits to the litter tray,
- Painful straining to pass urine
- Blood in the urine
- Crying in distress or pain
Most cases of urinary problems come under the general term “Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease” or FLUTD. This is a very painful syndrome caused by inflammation of the urinary tract in cats and can include the bladder or the urethra or both. (The urethra is the tube that removes the urine from the bladder). In male cats the urethra can become completely blocked which is a real emergency.
Whilst there are many causes of FLUTD, the vast majority of are due to “idiopathic cystitis”. This ultimately means the cat experiences an inflamed bladder (cystitis) of which the cause is unknown (idiopathic). Further causes of FLUTD, in order of how commonly they occur include:
- Bladder Stones and Urethral Plugs
- Behavioural Problems especially stress.
- Anatomical Problems or Tumours
Lab tests are usually required to identify the underlying cause. This will always begin with a standard urine sample as there is usually some trace of blood in the sample but we also look for microscopic crystals, protein levels and the concentration, or Specific Gravity (SG). The next steps may involve x-rays or ultrasound scans to identify if there are any larger stones, tumours or other problems present. These tests may require sedation. Infection is the least likely cause, less than 5% of cases, but may be more likely in older, female cats. At Cedarmount we often won’t prescribe antibiotics unless we have a diagnosis of an infection, which we can only do by taking a sterile sample of urine directly from the bladder with a small needle. This very safe procedure is called cystocentesis and most cats allow it to be performed without sedation.
The majority of cats will require anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the pain associated with the disease and many will benefit from nutraceutical products to improve the protective layers inside the bladder. Special diets can be very useful to promote more dilute urine, reduce the formation of crystals in the urine and adjust the pH or acidity to a more appropriate level. In cases associated with stress we will sometimes prescribe anxiety reducing pheromone diffusers or anxiolytic drugs.
In all cases of FLUTD it is highly important that you minimise any stress your cat may be experiencing. Stress is a well-known trigger factor that can precipitate flare ups of urinary tract disease in cats that are prone to idiopathic cystitis. The things that stress your cat may not be the same things that stress you, so you really have to think as if you are a cat to be able to minimise their stressors. A few stressful situations for cats can include:
- An abrupt diet change,
- Living with lots of other cats,
- Insufficient litter trays compared to the number of cats in the household – you should have at least one more than the number of cats in the house,
- New additions to the household (pets, children and furniture)
- A forced change in their routine
- Aggression shown by other cats – even cats that are outside
- A change in the position or content of their litter tray.
When a cat has FLUTD it is also important to encourage them to drink plenty of water. Drinking more helps to flush the bladder through and dilute any noxious compounds that may otherwise build up in your cat’s urine. Why not check out this video by Royal Canin for more tips on how to encourage your cat to drink more water?