Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease), is a general term for problems that affect cats’ lower urinary system and bladder. FLUTD causes discomfort (sometimes extreme pain) during urinating and full obstruction of the urinary system in extreme cases. The main cause of FLUTD remains unknown. Bladder stones, kidney problems, environmental or congenital stresses, and urinary tract infections are the most common causes.

FLUTD is a condition that affects 1% to 3% of the cat population. FLUTD is usually seen in: middle-aged cats, inactive, overweight, neutered, indoor-only or with restricted outdoor access, only given dry food, and do not drink enough water.

FLUTD is substantially more problematic in male cats due to their smaller urethra.

Symptoms of FLUTD

  • Frequency of urination
  • Difficult or uncomfortable urination
  • Urinating or pooping outside of the litter box.
  • Blood in the urine
  • Behavioral changes
  • Grooming or licking their genital area aggressively
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Urine with a bad odor
  • Inability to urinate because of blockage

FLUTD is a dangerous problem that requires fast treatment once it is discovered. Poisonous waste products build up when the kidneys are unable to release urine. Cats with severe cases may scream in pain, strain continually, have an enlarged sore abdomen, or vomit. They may also appear to be unresponsive and quiet. The cat will experience a painful death unless they are quickly given treatment.

Prompt treatment is critical because the time between complete obstruction and your cat’s death might be as little as one or two days. If you observe any of the symptoms in your cat, you should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you notice your cat is in extreme pain after normal vet hours you should find an emergency vet to see them.

Treatment of FLUTD

There are some non medical treatments that can help with FLUTD treatment. Some of the best things you can do to help are: 

  • Getting your cat to drink more water
  • Feed them wet food instead of dry foods
  • Lower their weight
  • Play with them more
  • Adding clam juice to their water so they drink more

In some cases it can be difficult to have your cat drink more fluids. Some vets will say to pour some clam juice into their water. Most cats will love this, but if yours doesn’t another option is to add water to their food. If you give them dry food you may want to let it soak up some of the water. No matter if you let it soak or not, you should feed them less because the food will swell when it absorbs the water, and your cat could vomit.

For each of the FLUTD cases that have been identified, there are particular and distinct therapeutic options.

Urethral Plugs

Urethral plugs are a blockage of the urethra and is a medical emergency. A clogged urethra in a cat can cause acute renal failure in as little as 1-2 days. Removing the obstruction as soon as possible is crucial.

Clearing of urethral blockage under anesthetic is the treatment for this FLUTD condition. After the blockage is removed, the urethra may experience acute irritation, resulting in edema and urethral muscle spasms. Some cats may need to be hospitalized to monitor their progress because urination may continue to be difficult for a few days. Some cats may require intravenous hydration therapy and a urinary catheter for a few days, depending on the severity of their condition. Cats will require medication to help with pain, swelling, and spasms.

Bladder Tumor

Bladder tumors in cats are uncommon affecting less than 1% of cats. The most frequent tumor is transitional cell carcinoma, which affects mostly older cats. Unfortunately this cancer spreads extremely fast. By the time any signs appear, the disease has progressed to the point where it has spread to other parts of the body. Once it has spread, surgical removal of the tumor is unlikely to save the cat’s life.

Chemotherapy may be beneficial in reducing the size of the tumor but only about 1 in 5 cats show a positive reaction to the treatment. The use of medications like piroxicam can be a therapy to consider with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy might be an option for cats that don’t respond to chemotherapy. Radiation therapy comes with some long term health risks that you’ll want to speak to your vet about before considering it.

Bladder Stones

Surgery is routinely used to remove bladder stones. Some stones can be dissolved by altering your cat’s diet as directed by a veterinarian. You may need to feed your cat a special prescription cat food that you’d buy through your vet. Some stones, such as calcium oxalate, cannot be dissolved and must be removed through surgery.

Prevention of FLUTD

Although it is impossible to entirely avoid lower urinary tract disorders, it is possible to reduce their occurrence. These are easy-to-implement preventative measures that will improve your cat’s life:


● Avoid overfeeding
● Feed your cat a consistent diet
● Make sure there is enough clean water at all times
● Make sure you have enough litter boxes, at least one more than the number of cats in your house
● Place litter boxes in different areas of your house
● Keep your litter boxes clean
● Limit changes in routine for the cats

Related Questions

Is FLUTD a Life-Threatening Disease for Cats?

The medical disorder FLUTD can be one of two types: obstructed and non-obstructed. Non-obstructed is not usually immediately life-threatening. In some situations, the unobstructed condition might deteriorate into the obstructed form, creating a life-threatening emergency.

Is FLUTD a Contagious Disease Between Cats and People?

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease in cats is not contagious. Cats can’t transfer FLUTD to people or other cats.

Can Cats Die from FLUTD?

FLUTD can kill cats. In the worst-case scenario, severe electrolyte imbalances or kidney failure are the most common causes of death.