Feline lower urinary tract disease is a disease resulting from inflammation of the bladder and/or the urethra. It may be caused by partial or complete obstruction of the urinary tract.
Complete urinary tract obstructions or blockages are life-threatening and require immediate treatment. This condition is usually because of the presence of small crystals in the urine.
The exact cause of the disease is unknown, and it may have several different causes. Age, sex, obesity, diet, stress and urine acidity all contribute to the development of the disease. During stressful periods, the immune system may be weakened, allowing bacteria to grow quickly.
Signs you may see include spending long periods squatting and possibly straining to urinate, continuously digging holes and acting like they need to urinate, passing only small amounts of urine, frequent attempts to urinate, vocalization during urination, blood-tinged urine or urination outside of the litter box. If your pet is completely blocked, you may also see lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, pain in the abdomen or a swollen lower abdomen.
Treatment for this disease includes analysis of urine. This is required to actually confirm a diagnosis of the disease. Your veterinarian will look for white blood cells, blood, glucose, protein and other things in the urine.
A cat with the disease will typically have white blood cells and possibly even blood in its urine. In some cases, x-rays, ultrasonography and blood work may be performed. X-rays and ultrasonography will allow your veterinarian to check for stones in the bladder or urethra, which require surgical removal.
Antibiotics are a key treatment if a true infection is found. If your cat is producing crystals, then a prescription diet to reduce crystal formation may be suggested. Your pet's urine will need to be rechecked occasionally to make sure the diet is still effectively eliminating the crystals.
Your cat may need to be on this diet for life if it is continuing to work. If the bladder is blocked, the urethra may need to be flushed out with a catheter and the urine allowed to drain out. Intravenous fluids are typically given followed by hospitalization and observation.
There are some steps you can take to reduce the occurrence of lower urinary tract problems. You can feed small meals on a frequent basis as well as provide clean, fresh water at all times.
It is also very important to keep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house. You will also want to keep litter boxes clean. If you have more than one cat in the household, you will need to provide an adequate number of litter boxes.
Dr. Shana Bohac has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published May 1, 2014 at midnight, updated May 1, 2014 at midnight
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