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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a common problem in cats and is caused by a few main causes. 

In female cats especially, urinary tract infections are a common occurrence, whilst in males urinary stones are a more common issue. However, either issue can most certainly happen in the other gender! 

Another very common problem in both genders of feline patients is idiopathic cystitis. This is essentially a bladder inflammation from an unknown cause which is not infectious and is often brought about by stress

These are the most common three lower urinary tract diseases in the feline patient, and below are five simple steps to knowing if your cat may have these concerns!

5 Signs to watch out for in your cat

#1. Frequent straining in the litter tray producing small amounts

When the bladder is inflamed in any way, it may go into spasm and may contract a lot more than normal and is unable to hold urine as effectively. As a result, your cat might feel like they need to urinate a lot more frequently than normal, even when the bladder really isn’t very full! 
As a result, you may find your cat going to the litter tray very frequently and producing only a few drops. If your cat has been trying to urinate a few times and has produced absolutely nothing, then you should seek immediate veterinary attention as this could mean your cat has a blocked urethra, and that bladder might be filling up so much it pops. 

If you think your cat might be blocked then it is an emergency.

#2. Urination outside of the litter tray

As above, the bladder might be in spasm and your cat may not be able to hold in the urine before getting to the litter tray! Sometimes there are unfortunate accidents outside of the little tray as a result of this, and it may be a good indication your cat has lower urinary tract disease.

Learn more in "Cat Toileting Issues: Inappropriate Elimination Behaviour".

#3. Meowing a lot whilst trying to urinate

If your cat is yowling a lot whilst trying to urinate, this may be a good indication that they are in pain whilst trying to urinate. Urination shouldn’t be painful, so if they’re in pain it’s time to see a vet!

#4. Excessive licking of your cat's private parts 

Infections in the urine or inflammation of the urinary tract and urethra is painful, and licking can give some temporary relief of this pain

Just like we rub our arms when we get hit to reduce the pain, licking of the private parts may also reduce the pain in that area. It may also help to clean the area, which is likely dirty from constant small bouts of urination. 

There can certainly be other problems occurring down there as well which could be the root of the problem, so if you are concerned about excessive licking then checking with your local veterinarian is the way to go!

#5. Small bits of blood in the urine, or red coloured urine

Small flecks of blood, red discoloured urine or excessively malodorous urine may be indications that your feline companion has lower urinary tract disease. 

With inflammation of the bladder, there can be swarming of red and white blood cells to the area to help heal the inflammation by bringing nutrients, antibiotics and healing elements to the area to help with healing. 

However, some of these can sometimes end up in the bladder themselves and come out in the urine. In certain circumstances there is also bleeding into the bladder itself, and this is more concerning! If there is discoloured, seriously malodorous urine or red flecks of blood in the urine then it is time to see a vet with your feline companion!

Diagnosis for Feline Urinary Tract Disease

Testing for feline lower urinary tract diseases generally includes sampling of the urine and testing for different components such as red and white blood cells, protein, crystals and bacteria. 

If bacteria are suspected, then a culture to find out exactly what bacteria are present is generally also indicated to get the best treatment for your cat. 

If this doesn’t quite give all the answers we are after, then further testing might be warranted, and your veterinarian will discuss that with you at the time! But if you are worried about your feline friend showing any of the above symptoms, then best to get to the vet as soon as possible to make sure everything is alright.

Prevention of FLUTD

It is impossible to completely prevent diseases of the lower urinary tract from occurring. However, FLUTD is more common in cats that don't drink enough water and also those that are inactive and obese.

written by Dr Sam Kovac, October 2019 (all rights reserved) for Australian Dog Lover

About the writer

Dr Sam KovacBVSC (Merit)), Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Assoc. , Member Royal College of Vet Surgeons, UK, MSGFC

Dr Sam followed his dream of becoming a veterinary surgeon that began at age three. Since that time, he has developed a strong interest in oncology, internal medicine and animal behaviour. Now a Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Sam continues his passion of providing the most up-to-date care to his patients and their two-legged family.

Sam founded Southern Cross Vet in the heart of St Peters, bordering on Alexandria to the 
west, Marrickville to the east and Newtown to the north, to offer pet parents a new level of service but with reasonable fees.

You can follow Southern Cross Vet on Facebook at or Instagram at

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