Cat pee is one of the toughest smells to eradicate from a home; it is also a very clear indicator of feline illness.
Cats are usually very private about their toilet behaviour, and very fastidious. So, if you’re suddenly noticing your cat peeing in unusual places, not using the litter box (even though she used to), peeing more often than usual or struggling to pass urine, it may be that she has what is known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD.
Symptoms of FLUTD
- straining to pass urine
- pain when urinating
- increased frequency of urinating
- urinating in strange places
- over grooming of the tummy hair
- and/or blood in her pee.
Which cats are prone to FLUTD?
It is most frequently seen in middle-aged cats, cats that are overweight, and cats with restricted access to outside. Environmental stressors frequently play a role: visiting feral cats, adverse weather or changes in routine.
Possible causes of pee changes
There are multiple causes of FLUTD. These include:
• Bacterial infections
• Stones in the bladder
• Cellular plugs clogging the urethra
The cause of FLUTD can be difficult to diagnose, but with a systematic approach a cause may be found. With crystals, stones or cellular plugs there is the risk of a blocked urethra, which is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention. If the bladder cannot be emptied, there is a build-up of toxic by-products normally excreted in urine; this can lead to kidney failure and ultimately death. Cats susceptible to repeated event of this disorder may require surgery in which the urethra is widened to prevent its blockage (urethrostomy).
If your cat appears to be suffering any of the symptoms of FLUTD, your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination followed by a full urine analysis. If no immediate cause can be identified, further tests include blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound and urine culture.
Common Causes of FLUTD?
- Stones in the bladder. A special diet will be prescribed to prevent further stone formation.
- Bacterial infections. Bacterial cystitis (bacterial infection of the bladder) is relatively uncommon in cats. It tends to happen more often in older cats that don’t pee often enough. It is treated with antibiotics for up to 4-6 weeks.
- Urethral plugs. Obstruction of the urethra, in especially male cats (because it is narrower) caused by a build up of proteins, cells, crystals and debris in the urine that combines to form a plug.
- Neoplasia. Although uncommon, tumours/cancer especially in older animals must be considered. If the tumour can’t be surgically removed, palliative anti-inflammatories are used.
- Idiopathic Cystitis. In the majority of cats, probably around 60-70% cases, no specific underlying disease can be identified. These cats are classified as having ‘feline idiopathic cystitis’, a term that simply means inflammation of the bladder without a known cause. Management of FIC is complex as the underlying cause is not fully understood. It involves increasing water intake and reducing environmental stress as well symptomatic use of Glycosaminoglycan replacement (extrapolated from human medicine), painkillers and anti-depressants.
If your cat shows any of the symptoms of FLUTD it is best to get her/him to a vet as soon as possible to prevent possible kidney damage. Self-diagnosis and/or treatment is not advised.