Feline lower urinary tract disease is not a “disease” per se. Rather, it is a characterization given to a collection of clinical signs in cats, but only after all other known causes of those signs are ruled out. The most common patient with FLUTD is a young adult, neutered male indoor cat, although any cat can be affected.
Symptoms of FLUTD
Affected animals tend to develop a number of the following symptoms, typically with a very sudden noticeable onset. The symptoms frequently wax and wane.
- Periuria - urination in inappropriate or unusual locations, instead of in the litter box (Periuria usually is the reason that an owner first seeks veterinary counsel for affected cats.)
- Hematuria - fresh blood in the urine
- Dysuria - painful or difficult urination, often seen with prolonged squatting and vocalization while trying to urinate
- Pollakiuria - frequent passage of small amounts of urine
- Anuria – inability to pass urine
- Stranguria - straining to urinate
- Frequent attempts to urinate
- Hiding behavior
- Excessive licking of the penis or vulva
- Distended, painful abdomen – caused by partial or complete urethral obstruction by uroliths (“stones”), calculi, urethral plugs or crystals.
- Loss of appetite – (anorexia; inappetence; associated with obstruction)
- Vomiting – associated with obstruction
- Protruded penis – associated with obstruction
Cats at Increased Risk
FLUTD can affect cats of any age and either gender. However, the anatomy of the male cat’s lower urinary tract predisposes males to develop obstructions. There is no recognized genetic predisposition, although Persians, Himalayans and other longhaired breeds may be at increased risk, while Siamese cats may be at a reduced risk. Other reported predisposing factors are neutering, obesity, inactivity and living in a multi-cat household. The most common presentation is a young to middle-aged adult, spayed or neutered, overweight indoor cat with a tendency to inactivity, nervousness and/or aggression.