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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a common urinary tract problem of cats that affects their bladder and urethra.   Signs of this disorder are bloody urine, difficulty or pain with urination, frequent urination, and/or urinating outside of the litter box.

FLUTD can be caused by many different things. Some of the potential causes are: urinary stones or crystals, infection, tumors, congenital disorders, and idiopathic. By far, the most common cause is idiopathic- meaning lower urinary tract disease for which we can find no cause.

Idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract disease (IFLUTD: also called “FUS” or “Cystitis”)

Idiopathic FLUTD is one of the most common, and sometimes most frustrating, urinary diseases in cats.  It is similar to a condition in humans called Interstitial Cystitis.  IFLUTD is diagnosed by running tests to rule out other causes of lower urinary tract disease. Urinalysis, urine cultures, and radiography of the bladder are tests that are usually done.


There is no specific treatment for IFLUTD, and many cats recover spontaneously without treatment. Anti-inflammatory medicine is usually dispensed to control swelling and pain in the bladder. Most cases resolve in 5-7 days.


Some cats experience recurrence of IFLUTD. The recurring episodes may become less frequent and less severe over time. Unfortunately, in a small percentage of cats, the symptoms recur frequently and/or last for weeks to months each time.


Male cats with IFLUTD have the potential for becoming “obstructed”.  Since their urethra is long and narrow, it can more easily become plugged-up by debris from the bladder. When the urethra gets blocked, the cats cannot urinate and this becomes a life-threatening situation. Signs of urethral blockage are: straining to urinate with no urine coming out, constant licking at the penis, or painful abdomen. If you suspect your cat is blocked, he should see a veterinarian immediately.

Some male cats will become blocked repeatedly. When this happens, an operation called a Perineal Urethrostomy (or PU) can be performed to prevent further blockages.


For those cats that experience recurring episodes of IFLUTD, some changes at home may help prevent recurrences:

  1. Increase water intake. This can be done by flavoring your cat’s water (add small amount of no-salt chicken broth or tuna juice) or by feeding canned food.
  2. Feed “free choice” or small, frequent meals. Do not feed free-choice if your cat is overweight.
  3. Feed a high quality, highly digestible diet.  We can recommend one for your cat.
  4. Decrease stress. Stress may precipitate episodes, so try to keep your cat’s life as routine as possible.
    See the website for understanding stress in cats.
  5. Keep an adequate amount of clean litter boxes available at all times.