There is an unusual aspect to fall in New England. For some unknown reason there is an increase in Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease at the onset of the cooler fall weather. FLUTD as this condition is most often named is associated with many different diseases. Interstitial Cystitis or severe inflammation and pain in the urinary bladder is one. Felines, both male and female with this condition will often be seen spending more time in the litter box than usual. They may also posture to urinate in the bathtub or on the floor when afflicted. You may notice drops of blood being passed when your pet attempts to urinate. Some cats will cry out as there is often pain associated with this form of cystitis (bladder inflammation)
Urolithiasis or stones in the urinary tract may also occur with FLUTD. This condition is very serious because the stones may become large enough to cause a total urinary obstruction. Although this condition is much more common in tomcats rather than females it is potentially life threatening when it occurs. If your pet is unable to pass urine he/she will become toxic very quickly. If the obstruction is not relieved death will occur.
While there are many different theories of why FLUTD occurs there is agreement on the condition having a multi-factorial cause. In other words it is likely that diet, environmental change and stress, bacterial and viral infections may all play a role. The seasonal aspect of the condition may arise from biological stress that the environment inflicts upon the feline during the spring and fall.
So how can we prevent this disease from occurring in your feline friend? First feed a good quality diet. There are many diets on the market that fulfill this requirement and although some may be sold as “urinary tract friendly” the important thing is to always be aware of your cat’s litter habits. In the event that your feline develops FLUTD follow the dietary instructions of your veterinarian very closely. There are several prescription diets on the market that greatly reduce the incidence of recurrence when you pet is converted to one of these. If you find your pet sitting in the litter box for long stretches, vocalizing, squatting, or posturing in unusual places, contact your local vet immediately. Try to determine if your cat is producing any urine at all after these attempts. This is the single most important observation when dealing with a cat with FLUTD. Even a few drops of bloody urine can be sufficient to determine if your cat is totally obstructed. Environmental enrichment further reduces stress for your pet which may also reduce the incidence of this condition. Climbing towers, hiding places, catnip toys, pheromone diffusers can all help your cat more comfortably adjust to his or her environment during periods of increase stress.
Remember FLUTD is not a simple illness that occurs and is cured. Once your pet is diagnosed it becomes a lifelong concern. Though recurrences don’t always happen, they are the norm rather than the exception. Don’t let this condition result in the loss of your lifelong friend.