Cat health: Feline lower urinary tract disease

Lower urinary tract diseases are the second most common health issue among cats, according to WebMD Pets.1

FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) is a generalized term for multiple issues with the urinary tract. It is more common among male cats, and if your male cat is straining to urinate or does not produce urine, it is important to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.


  • Straining to urinate

  • Urinating outside the litter box

  • Painful urination

  • Bloody urine

  • Dehydration

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of appetite

  • Depression

The signs may be caused by a number of different issues/conditions, all of which are characterized as feline lower urinary tract disease. Many of the signs are common between causes, so your veterinarian will need to examine your cat to determine the exact problem and treat accordingly.


  • Bladder infection

  • Stones or crystals in the bladder or urethra

  • Urethral plug

  • Stress

  • Injury

  • Tumor

  • Weak bladder

  • Congenital abnormality

These conditions affect both male and female cats and are common in overweight cats. If your cat experiences difficulty urinating, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Depending on the signs, diagnostics may include a physical exam, blood work, ultrasound, radiographs, and/or a urinalysis.


Treatment varies based on the diagnosis and signs, but often include:

  • Antibiotics/medications

  • Surgery to remove bladder crystals/stones or urethral blockage

  • Expelling of small stones through urethra

  • Surgery to remove tumor

  • Urinary catheter

  • Dietary changes

  • Urinary acidifiers

  • Fluid therapy

If your cat is diagnosed with struvite crystals or stones, your veterinarian may recommend prescription food to help manage the pH of your cat's urine.

Your cat may experience recurrences of the same problem, however the likelihood will decrease as your pet gets older. With timely veterinary care and proper treatment, most cats continue to live happy lives without long-term consequences.

1. Carlson, Delbert, DVM. "Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease: Symptoms, Treatments, and More." Healthy Cats. WebMD, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.

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