Cat Urinary Tract Health

by DFS-Pet-Blog on January 11, 2011

Cat Urinary Tract

Urinary problems are among the more common reasons cat owners bring their cats into the veterinarian. The term feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) covers a number of urinary conditions in cats.

Feline lower urinary tract disease affects a cat’s bladder and sometimes the urethra (the tube-like structure that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body). Female cats are about equally affected as males, but because of the male’s anatomy, FLUTD may lead to blockage, which means the cat cannot urinate. This is a veterinary emergency.

FLUTD is seen more often in overweight cats, those on a dry food diet (less water intake), or those with a sedentary lifestyle. Several other factors can contribute to this disease including bacterial or viral infections, trauma, tumors of the urinary tract, congenital abnormalities, bladder stones, and crystals in the urine. Urine pH, in combination with the level of certain minerals in the diet, such as magnesium and calcium, may increase the risk of the formation of urinary crystals and bladder stones, which may contribute to the development of FLUTD. Recent research has suggested that stress may play an important role. Signs of FLUTD include:

  • Prolonged squatting or straining in or out of the litter box producing minimal or no urine
  • Frequent urination, straining, or licking at the genital area
  • Pain while urinating (meowing or howling)
  • Blood in the urine; vomiting; depression

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Although feline lower urinary tract disease cannot be prevented, owners can control certain aspects of their cat’s environment to help their cats:

  • Offer fresh water to your pet daily.
  • Feed your cat a mixture of dry and canned food for improved moisture intake; make sure your cat is eating a premium diet with appropriate levels of magnesium, calcium, and other minerals.
  • Give your cat the most stress-free environment that you can, including “escape routes” to get away from other animals and people, and privacy at the litter box and while eating.
  • Play with your cat regularly to boost his activity level.

Above all, keep a close eye on your cat and if you suspect he is having a urinary problem, take him into his veterinarian.

Written by Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Wahlfeld January 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

My neutered male cat just recently had to stay at the vet for a complete blockage. Just wondering if you can tell me what the “appropriate levels of magnesium, calcium, and other minerals” to look for in a dry cat food. We currently are feeding him canned food with occasional dry food, but just wondering what to look for in a dry food. I don’t like to feed corn, soy, or meat-by-products to my cats (have 10 of them) and corn seems to be one of the main ingredients, even in the “Prescription” dry food, which is horribly expensive. I have found two dry cat food brands that do not have ANY corn, soy or meat-by-products in their food, but I’m wondering if they are at the correct magnesium levels to help prevent future problems. I have been a customer of Foster & Smith for many, many years. Thank You.

Bonnie Ramba January 11, 2011 at 9:22 am

Thank you for this article! Cats “peeing” outside their litter box is one of the causes of the high number of homeless cats. If your veterinarian does not find a urinary tract problem in your cat, I have found some other helpful ideas:
– If you are using a cat box with a hood, try removing the hood. I have a cat that “peed” outside her box simply because she did NOT like her litter box!
– Try adding an extra litter box. The rule of thumb is one per cat plus one extra. I don’t have that many but my two cats were definately happier when I added a box after only having onel
– Consider a different litter. Some litters definately help you to keep the boxes cleaner. There is also a litter with special herbs to attract cats who have already gotten into the habit of “peeing” outside their box.
Don’t get discouraged – sometimes the solution is a simple one. If we could only read their minds??

melissa January 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

Great tips Bonnie!! Totally.. we had that issue with a cat all of a sudden not liking their hooded pan. Removed the hood, and all was better.

Rosemary January 11, 2011 at 10:59 am

Boy, have I ever encountered this over the years. Currently, I have two cats that have had issues. Boeing has to take a urinary acidifier daily. If he goes off it, in about a month he starts to have problems. I used to buy it from Drs. Foster & Smith , but they have discontinued it, so now I have to buy it from my vet. Siamese See-See had a few bouts of cystitis last year, but seems better now.

The worst I’ve encountered was my tortoiseshell’s. After fighting almost three years of bladder infection after bladder infection, we had to have Marble euthanized. She was mserable, we were miserable, the house smelled from her urinating everywhere, and we were pretty much out of options (not to mention money for vet bills). She was on prescription food, and she would be on antibiotics when she had an active infection, but my vet never could find an underlying cause for her problem. All the tests she ran came back normal, even the urine ph and specific gravity tests. Marble was only nine years old when we euthanized her.

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