Josie's case of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Josie a 4 year old domestic shorthair cat who was brought to the clinic as she was showing signs of having Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Josie had an episode of urinary crystals a few years ago and her owner recognised the symptoms of frequent small amounts of urine, blood in the urine and being distressed when toileting. Other FLUTD symptoms include excessive licking of genitals, urinating outside the litter box and/or no passing of urine. This condition can be very serious and failing to recognise the symptoms can be extremely dangerous. Josie's owner sought immediate veterinary attention. A thorough examination of Josie was done and a urine sample was collected. There can be many reasons a cat suffers from FLUTD. Josie's full urinalysis results indicated she had blood in her urine, but no infection or crystals were present. This condition is known as idiopathic cystitis.

Feline idiopathic cystitis is when your cat is showing symptoms of cystitis, but there doesn't seem to be any reason for urinary problems. Diet and/or stress can both be triggers for cats suffering idiopathic cystitis. The stress can be subtle, such as change of household routine or more obvious such as going to a cattery. A mainly dry food diet and reduced intake of water can also be triggers for idiopathic cystitis, as water doesn't pass through the body often enough to flush out toxins.

Josie's history fits both of the above conditions as she had been fed mainly dry food for a number of years and had recently spent time in a cattery. Josie was treated with anti-inflammatory medication and placed on a special urinary wet food diet, which cleared up the episode of idiopathic cystitis.

Unfortunately, Josie has had repeat episodes of idiopathic cystitis. Her owner must adhere strictly to the urinary diet, as other ‘regular' foods will trigger an episode. The stressful situations can be harder to control. For example, one of Josie's episodes occurred after a period of rain. As Josie prefers to toilet outside, she would not use her litter tray or go outside due to the rain. Not urinating for a period of time then triggered the episode.

Other causes of idiopathic cystitis are:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Living mainly indoors
  • Dirty litter tray or certain litter products used in the litter trays
  • Being overweight

Josie, like many cats who suffer from idiopathic cystitis, requires long-term management to help reduce the frequency of episodes. Some ways to try and help prevent idiopathic cystitis are:

  • Feed your cat a mainly wet food diet
  • Play with your cat more for exercise
  • Cats are likely to drink less water if their bowl isn't full, is too small or is placed near noisy appliances or by the litter boxes
  • Make sure the litter tray is clean
  • Don't place litter trays in a busy area of the house
  • There are also behaviour modification appliances and medications that can be used

It is important to remember that all cases of FLUTD must be seen by a vet urgently and a urine test performed promptly to establish if bacteria and/or crystals are present.