Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (or FLUTD)

Is your cat

  • straining to urinate?
  • urinating more frequently?
  • urinating in unusual places?
  • crying while urinating?
  • grooming (licking) its genital area excessively?
  • squatting at its litter box for longer periods of time yet only passing small amounts of urine?
  • passing red or blood-tinged urine?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, there is a good chance that your cat may have feline lower urinary tract disease.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (or FLUTD) is a common disease in cats which occurs when there is irritation and inflammation of the lining of the bladder and the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body).

There are many different causes of FLUTD, including: bladder stones, crystals in the urine, tumors (most commonly transitional cell carcinoma), trauma, narrowing of the urethra, inflammation of the bladder (otherwise known as idiopathic cystitis) and urinary tract infections. Therefore, it is important to bring your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup, as it may require urgent medical attention.

While your cat is at the clinic, your veterinarian will most likely need to collect a sample of urine for analysis and examination.  Your veterinarian may also choose to perform a bacterial culture on the urine to determine the kind of bacteria present.

Other tests that your veterinarian may choose to do:

  • X-rays of the bladder and urethra will be helpful to rule out some other causes of urinary problems in your cat.
  • An ultrasound examination of the urinary system may also help identify bladder stones and abnormalities in the bladder or kidneys

Urinary tract infections are less common in cats, and can be either bacterial (which is more common) or fungal. It can affect all cats, but are more commonly seen in older (more than 10 years old), female, overweight or stressed cats. It can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication, but some male cats may get a blockage due to an accumulation of proteins, cells, crystals and debris in the urinary tract, which requires EMERGENCY TREATMENT.

Managing a cat with FLUTD may not be easy. At home, you will need to follow your veterinarian’s instructions in terms of:

  • food
  • water intake
  • medication
  • providing sufficient litter trays (the ideal number of litter trays should be the number of cats in the house + 1)
  • monitor the colour of urine
  • frequency of urine
  • behaviour at urination
  • general wellbeing

It is important to work with your vet to alleviate pain and discomfort as well as to save your cat's life. Follow up with your vet for any treatment required. 


Information provided Dr. Jo-Ann Siew, BVSc (Melbourne)