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How CBD Can Help Cats with Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

How CBD can be beneficial for cats with Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD is a term used to describe important conditions related to certain urinary diseases where the cats struggle to urinate. Around 5% of cats will experience a FLUTD episode in their lifetime and up to 8% of cats attending a vet practice has some sort of urinary issue with a recurrence rate of over 50% (1).

FLUTD signs can occur at any age, in any breed, neutered and entire cats, being riskier for males than for females due to anatomical conditions, explains Dr. Marta Calvo Blanco, Head of Veterinary Operations and Education at eCS Vet (Endocannabinoid System Veterinary Centre).

It is usually related to a dry food diet or low consumption of liquids, stress and lack of exercise. It is one of the most concerning cat diseases for owners, says Dr Calvo Blanco.

Some of the signs the owner might observe are:

✔️ Difficulty and/or pain when urinating: the cat may take longer than usual in the litter box with only small amounts or urine passing, while crying due to pain.

✔️ Urinating out of the litter box, in unusual places all around the house.

✔️ Blood in the urine or redness of the urine.

✔️ Overgrooming, especially on the genital area that can be quite wet due to an excess of licking.

✔️ Behavioural changes: the cat might seem stressed, restless, annoyed, maybe hiding or avoiding the owner.

“FLUTD treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Generally, in all cases, it involves increasing water intake to encourage more frequent urination; but also CBD should always be part of the treatment,” explains Dr. Calvo Blanco. 
“FLUTD is a multifactorial condition that needs to be considered and addressed from different perspectives to be properly treated.”
CBD is one of the hundred compounds called cannabinoids present in the Cannabis plant. It interacts with the Endocannabinoid System that almost all animals, including humans, have inside our bodies. 

It has been shown to have many benefits due to its different properties as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, antibacterial, anticancer and antispasmodic among others. It is mainly used as an oil, which makes it extremely easy to treat animals by adding it into their food or on a treat.

Dr. Calvo Blanco says, “There are a few different conditions that can cause FLUTD and all of them can be addressed with the use of CBD as an adjuvant to other medications or as the main treatment, especially when the veterinary takes a more complete or holistic approach trying to avoid the repetition of the problem.”

1. Infections: Bacterial infection is more common in older cats, and it’s usually related to other conditions as diabetes or kidney disease. It can also be secondary to urolithiasis or crystalluria when not attended promptly. Generally, it can be easily treated with antibiotics.

CBD has some antibacterial and antidiabetic effects, so it is the perfect adjuvant treatment in this case.

2. Bladder stones (Uroliths): These stones are mineral based and can irritate and inflame the bladder and the urethra, even obstruct the last one specially on males. Depending on the minerals that compound the stones, they might be dissolved or surgically removed.

CBD has anti-inflammatory effects while assisting with muscle relaxation and reducing spasticity. These benefits are clearly supportive in case of urolithiasis.

3. Urethral obstruction: It can be caused by small stones
but also by some sort of soft plug – a mix of minerals, cells, proteins and mucus – that cannot pass through. Male neutered cats are a greater risk of suffering a blockage that is usually solved by catheterisation. 

It is one of the most concerning causes of FLUTD since it can be life-threatening and there is always inflammation/irritation and antibiotics might be needed for a few days.

CBD combines most of the benefits needed in this situation, it has anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and antibiotic effects.

4. Neoplasia/Cancer: Even though they are not very common in cats, they can be seen occasionally on older ones, especially Transitional cell carcinoma. They are usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

CBD and THC have shown antiproliferative and anticancer properties by inducing the dead of the cancer cells through apoptosis and reducing cell migration and invasion in many types of cancers, but also in Transitional cell carcinoma (2). Furthermore, CBD has synergistic effect with NSAIDs potentiating their effect and improving the outcomes.

5. Idiopathic cystitis: It is the most common cause of FLUTD, up to 70% of the cases, with no clear underlying cause for the inflammation of the bladder (idiopathic means “unknown”). It is thought to be a multi-causal disease mainly related with the cats not being able to adequately respond to stress which can cause a secondary neurogenic inflammation of the bladder. 

There is no current specific conventional treatment for stress other than supporting behavioural therapies. Based on research, intravesical administration of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) might help to restore the wall bladder (3) and some analgesic might be needed to reduce the pain.

“CBD has demonstrated good anxiolytic and calming effects, being a fundamental part of the treatment in case of stress. If we add the anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties, CBD should certainly be included as the main medication in case of idiopathic cystitis,” says Dr Calvo Blanco.

There are some general recommendations that cat owners should be familiar with in order to reduce the risk of FLUTD to their animals, but also as some wellbeing advice to support high quality lifestyle for their cats.

✔️ Feed small amounts of food, preferably proper raw food, along the entire day (consult with an animal nutritionist for the best raw diet).

✔️ Increase consumption of water by providing different places for drinking. Keep it clean and fresh, using some pet fountains, feeding wet food (if raw food is not possible), adding some flavour in the water or bone broth.

✔️ Provide more litter boxes (at least one more than the number of cats in the household) and set them in quiet and private spots. Remember to keep them clean.

✔️ Reduce stressful situations, like changes of the furniture or in your routines, as much as possible; and when it is unavoidable, use CBD.

✔️ Enhance exercise through environmental enrichment, allowing the cat to play more and mimic some of its natural behaviours. Providing scratching poles, hiding places and elevated locations might be a good way to promote this. 

Setting some play time on a regular basis to imitate the hunting and allowing outdoor access under control would be very beneficial.

“Because of all the above mentioned benefits of CBD, it should always be part of any protocol of treatment for FLUTD, no matter what is causing it,” says Dr Calvo Blanco.

Written by Dr. Marta Calvo Blanco, April 2022 for Australian Cat Lover (all rights reserved).


1. Recurrence rate and long-term course of cats with feline lower urinary tract disease. Elisabeth Kaul 1, Katrin Hartmann 1, Sven Reese 2, Roswitha Dorsch. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 2020.

2. Anti-cancer properties of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and potential synergistic effects with gemcitabine, cisplatin and other cannabinoids in bladder cancer. Andrea M. Tomko, Erin G. Whynot, Denis J. Dupré. bioRxiv 2021.

3. Intravesical glycosaminoglycans for obstructive feline idiopathic cystitis: a pilot study. Allison M Bradley, Michael R Lappin. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2013.

About the writer

Dr. Marta Calvo Blanco
 received her Veterinary Degree with Honours in Spain over 25 years ago and ran her own practice with her veterinary surgeon husband for 15 years. Marta worked for highly recognised international small animal nutrition companies and pursued further education in Homeopathy, Flower Essences, Essential oils, Food Supplements and Animal Communication. 

Marta is also a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist since 2012 (IVAS). After coming to Australia in 2015, Marta worked as an Animal Naturopath and Vet Technician and founded her own company “Holistic Animal Naturopath”, while learning and improving her knowledge on the use of medicinal cannabis. 

She joined CANNect Veterinary (now eCS Vet) in 2019 to help educate veterinary professionals about using cannabinoid medications with animals. Marta is currently the Head of Veterinary Operations and Education at eCS Vet

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