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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) or Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC): What is it and how do we manage it?

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) or Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) is a general term for disorders of domestic cats
characterized by:

  • blood in the urine
  • difficulty or painful urination
  • urinating in inappropriate locations
  • partial or complete blockages of the urethra
  • frequenting the litterbox with little or no production

Now, it is important to note that your cat may not exhibit all these signs and they may not be present
consistently. Young, male cats are overrepresented, although these signs can be seen in any cat.
There is no known cause for FLUTD or FIC but there are several theories surrounding the condition.

  • noninfectious diseases such as idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder wall of unknown
  • cause)
  • The initial episodes of idiopathic lower urinary tract diseases usually occur without a significant number of bacteria or white blood cells in the urine.
  • Stress is thought to be a contributing factor and is what we can modify at home
  • Treatment of FLUTD is dependent on a variety of factors. If your cat is showing signs of a urinary blockage, it is a medical emergency and needs to be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • For cats without blockage of the urethra, treatment can be managed with outpatient treatment and sent home with proper diet and management.

Some at-home things that can be done at home include:

  • feeding smaller meals and using canned food which has a higher water content
  • using the diet that your veterinarian has recommended
  • providing fresh water at all time
  • providing adequate amounts of litterboxes
  • clean litterboxes frequently
  • minimize major changes in routine
  • reduce stress

Cats tend to be very picky pets. They have their likes and dislikes and often time they will not budge
from them. In many cases, this can cause owners to struggle to implement some home management
ideas. Here are some tips to make everyone’s life a little easier!!
First, add in a drinking water fountain as early as possible. Keep it full and encourage cats to drink from
it. We have found that many cats will take to a fountain and love it! Depending on the urinalysis we
perform, a diet change may be recommended. This is always tricky with cats as they tend to become
very accustomed to their food and dislike change, however, the diet we use is very palatable and have
encountered few problems transitioning. The easiest way to change their food over is to do go very
gradually. It may be switching out a few kibbles each day until you have transitioned over. In some
cases, you may have to mix canned food and dry food together to entice them to eat the new food.

Another key component to managing FLUTD in cats is to decrease their stress and provide
environmental enrichment. This is often a challenging area for owners. One key component to managing
stress effectively is the addition of Feliway® diffusers. This emits the pheromone of happy kitties and
reduces the stress your cat feels.

The second part of this is to provide environmental enrichment. This
may include interactive toys for your cats to play with (i.e. catnip filled toys), window seats for watching
outside, new climbing towers to explore and scratching posts. There are even recommendations to
move their food around the house, so they must hunt for it. If we can get kitties moving and thinking
about something is a great step in the right direction. Many cat owners think that their cat is relaxed and
napping all day but in truth, cats are easily bored and being bored can cause them stress. Litterbox
hygiene is very important and the rule of thumb for the number of litterboxes in or around the house is
the number of cats you have plus 1 (i.e. 4 cats, 5 litterboxes). This is sometimes difficult for owners due
to space in the home, if so, hygiene becomes that much more important.
There are some medications that can be used to treat the symptoms of FLUTD, but in many cases proper
home management and care can greatly reduce the amount and severity of flare-ups. If your cat has
experienced this, signs tend to recur occasionally but decrease as they age. In any pet, frequent
urination, inappropriate urination or trouble urinating are a major concern and needs to be examined
right as soon as possible to ensure it is not a life-threatening condition.

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