FLUTD or FIC
Feline lower urinary tract disease, also known as FLUTD, encompasses a myriad of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra in cats. The syndrome can have many possible causes, but regardless of the cause the signs your cat will exhibit are similar:
• Difficulty and/or pain when urinating
• Increased frequency of urination
• Excessive licking of genital area
• Inappropriate urination
• Urine may contain blood
This condition can be seen in cats of any age but is most frequently seen in middle aged cats. Male and female cats are affected equally, however male cats are at a higher risk for urinary tract obstruction. City cats are at higher risk than the outdoor country cat. Studies suggest that 70% of cats presented with FLUTD are cats that are overweight and get little exercise, like our apartment cats. Also, cats that use a litter box are at a higher risk because they often refuse to urinate in a dirty litter box, a practice that encourages urine retention and FLUTD.
In the majority of cases of FLUTD an underlying cause cannot be found. Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, also known as FIC, is the medical term for cats affected with FLUTD but with no definitive cause. This diagnosis is made by exclusion of all other causes. It can be frustrating to spend lots of money running tests and x-rays only to find that your pet has FIC. Most cases of FIC are self- limiting and resolve without therapy within five to ten days. It has recently been suggested that FIC may result from alterations in the interaction between the nerve supply, the protective layer that lines the bladder, and urine brought on by stress causing a swelling of the bladder and urethra. More research is necessary.
The following statistics show a breakdown of the causes of non-obstructed FLUTD:
• Non obstructive idiopathic cystitis 65%
• Bladder stone 15%
• Anatomical defect/cancer/other 10%
• Behavioral problems less than 10%
• Bacterial infection less than 2%
Note that less than 2% are actual infections of the urinary tract and that 65% are idiopathic, without a definite cause.
Once the FLUTD cat becomes obstructed, these statistics change.
• Obstructive idiopathic cystitis 29%
• Urethral plug 59%
• Bladder stones 10%
• Bladder stones with bacterial infection 2%
The urethral plug, the most common reason for obstruction, is exactly that: a plug that causes the cat to be unable to pass urine. This is a life threatening condition and left untreated will cause death usually within 24 hours. What makes up the plug varies but the treatment is universal; the plug is removed by passing a urinary catheter into the bladder via the urethra, allowing the urine to pass. The catheter is kept in place for up to 24 hours while any urethral swelling reduces.
What you can do today to try and pre- vent FLUTD in your cat?
Stress affects both people and pets in peculiar ways at times, and often manifests itself with physiological problems. Some stresses that may affect your cat are changes in diet, construction in or around your apartment, any new addition to the household such as a new pets or people.
Increase water intake
Feed your cat canned or moist food instead of dry.
Encourage water intake by making it readily avail- able in a couple different places in your home Some cats like it best out of a glass on a counter or from a dripping sink; watch your cat to see what preferences s/he has and build on those.
Keep your cat fit
Watch for overeating and weight gain. Cats that cannot clean themselves well are at greater risk for lower urinary tract infection. Encourage exercise by engaging them in play. This is not only healthy, but a fun way to interact with your pet!
Encourage litter box usage
Maintain a clean, odor free environment that your cat will love to visit again and again. Ideally, waste should be removed from your cat’s litter box at least once per day. If you have multiple cats, consider multiple boxes. Cats are often territorial about sharing litter space.
Our doctors are always happy to discuss preventative medicine with our clients. Talk to them about ways to ensure that your cat stays clear of FLUTD.