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Feline Urological Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment [veterinarian's recommendations

Feline urological syndrome (called FLUTD, or feline lower urinary track disease) is a unit that is more and more often diagnosed in veterinary offices and clinics.

Urological syndrome in a cat

Probably every cat owner has had to deal with the problems of his pet's urinary tract at least once.

Often on Internet forums there are statements about "maliciously " urinating cats - most often these are animals that suffer from diseases of the urinary system.

The kidneys, urinary bladder and the cat's urethra are organs that often cause discomfort to our pets - the first symptoms are:

  • anxiety,
  • reluctance to use the litter box,
  • passing small amounts of urine.

Feline urological syndrome they are actually two diseases (precisely inflammation of the bladder and urethra), but caused by similar factors and closely related to each other.

It is a very complex disease, the treatment of which can take up to your pet's entire life.

  • The causes of the urological syndrome in a cat
  • Predisposition to the urological syndrome
  • Urological syndrome in a cat
  • Diagnostics
  • Treatment of feline urological syndrome
  • The prognosis for FLUTD
  • Prevention

The causes of the urological syndrome in a cat

As I mentioned, the cat's urological syndrome is a polyetiological unit. This means that it is caused by many factors, but there is no clear answer, which is the most common cause FLUTD.

Most sources say that it is an idiopathic disease.

However, it is believed that there are factors that predispose cats to develop the urological syndrome.

  1. Most often, chronic bacterial or viral infections causing constant inflammation are mentioned as the first cause.
    Cats are reluctant to drink water, so the urine produced by the kidneys is very concentrated, it stays in the bladder for too long.
  2. The presence of crystals in the urine, which irritate the delicate bladder wall and damage the urethra during each voiding, is another common cause of the cat's urological syndrome.
  3. The third cause of FLUTD is stress.
    It is believed that delicate animals, excited by all stimuli, are particularly often affected by this disease.
    One wonders what a cat might be stressing out? Well, the cat's psyche is very sensitive to all types of stimuli. Cats can hardly bear any changes in their environment, from moving to placing flowers on the windowsill.
    It can also be stressful for a cat to prevent it from meeting its needs, such as scratching, hunting or observing. It is worth considering whether the pet suffering from urological syndrome has a scratching post or whether it is given enough time to play.

Predisposition to the urological syndrome

According to the latest research, castrated middle-aged males (from 2 to 7 years old) are particularly predisposed to developing the urological syndrome.

The structure of the male's urethra (specifically, a significant narrowing at the mouth) makes it particularly easy to obstruct it.

As I mentioned, urological syndrome affects more often nervous, skittish, poorly tolerant cats that have many feline companions in a small territory.

Obese cats are also more likely to suffer from this disease than those with normal body weight.

It is also important to diversify the cat's living environment - FLUTD is more likely to attract cats that cannot go out to the balcony or the yard.

It is believed that the type of food consumed is also very important - animals fed only with dry cat food also more often have problems with the urinary tract.

Urological syndrome in a cat

Urological syndrome in a cat

Symptoms in the initial stage of the disease, as often happens, are very nonspecific.

Cats are secretive animals that very rarely show the disease, most often mask the symptoms for a long time.

The cat is less playful, has a reduced appetite, is depressed. He assumes pain positions - that is, he squats with the shoulder blades slightly extended and his head bowed.

Usually, the first symptom that worries the owner is the reluctance to use the litter box.

Urological syndrome in a cat is manifested by very rarely urinating, in small portions.

Vocalization is often heard during micturition - the cat feels a lot of pain while urinating.

You can see traces of blood in the litter box, urine has a specific, very intense smell.

The cat walks on stiff paws, feels severe pain in the perineum area.

The hair cover around the mouth of the urethra and the underside of the thighs can be significantly thinned - the cat intensively licks that area after each urination.

Abdominal licking may also occur, which is related to bladder pain.

The cat may begin to associate the litter box with pain and urinate in areas definitely not intended for physiological needs, while defecating in the litter box.

The cat becomes even more skittish, avoids contact with humans, chooses secluded places.

All these symptoms indicate cystitis.

The most dangerous, however, is the situation when the cat, despite the great need, is unable to urinate - when the obstruction of the urethra arises.

The most common causes are deposits of cells, mucus, bacteria, and crystals that physically block the flow of urine out of the bladder.

An obstruction occurs when the urethra is severely inflamed, when its wall is swollen, which reduces the organ's lumen.

This is a common situation in cats suffering from urological syndrome.

Therefore, if for 12 hours no urine is noticed in the litter box or outside of it and the cat's well-being continues to deteriorate, do not delay the visit to the veterinarian.

In such a case, the bladder should be decolourised as soon as possible, all residual urine should be removed and appropriate treatment initiated. It is rare for urethritis to occur without associated cystitis.

What is the risk of ignoring the noticeable symptoms?

First of all, the cat's great pain and suffering.

An overflowing bladder hurts, the feeling of being torn from the inside is terrible.

An overfilled organ at the slightest trauma can rupture, which in a short time will lead to peritonitis and the cat's death.

Restricted outflow of urine leads to an increase in the level of urea and creatinine in the circulating blood.

May cause the development of post-renal azotaemia secondary to prerenal nitrogenemia and renal failure.

There is also hyperkalemia, which is elevated levels of potassium, leading to abnormal heart rhythms.

The condition of the cat deteriorates with each passing hour.


Diagnosing feline urological syndrome should be based primarily on a clinical examination and appropriate laboratory tests.

The cat with the syndrome has a painful and tense abdomen and takes a painful position.

When palpating the integuments, an overflow bladder may be felt in the back of the abdomen.

The loss of hair that I mentioned earlier may be noticeable.

Additional imaging studies should be performed if symptoms characteristic of cystitis are established in the clinical history.

Ultrasound examination is definitely the best solution. Thanks to it, you can quickly and easily assess the degree of bladder filling, the presence of any deposits, sediments and mineralization, the degree of bladder wall thickening.

During the examination, it is necessary to pay attention to the internal opening of the urethra - in the case of obstruction, it is thickened, filled with residual urine.

If possible, it is worth tracing the course of the coil for deposits and mineralization.

During the ultrasound examination, it is worth taking a urine sample for further diagnostic tests, using the cystocentesis method (i.e. by puncturing the bladder)

X-ray examination shows mineralization present in the urinary bladder and in the urethra. In the case of a significant enlargement of the outline of an organ, a shift of other organs towards the cranial direction can also be seen.

A urine test always gives very valuable results.

The most reliable, however, is urine collected by cystocentesis, i.e. directly from the bladder. It is the most recent, so the test result will be the most accurate.

Additionally, if bacteria are present in the tested sample, there is no doubt that they come from the bladder, not from a badly burned cuvette or from the vicinity of the external mouth of the coil.

In the urine test, the color change is most often noticeable - from light straw yellow, urine becomes dark brown or brown.

It is characterized by an increase in its specific gravity, urine is very concentrated.

In the test strip, available at any veterinary clinic, you can also assess the increase in pH - from acid to neutral or even alkaline.

The presence of protein in the urine, leukocytes and erythrocytes is also characteristic of inflammation associated with FLUTD.

In sediment testing, crystals, mucous rollers, and epithelial cells lining the bladder are often present.

Bacteria and cellular conglomerates are also found.

If bacterial cells are found, and this is not the first cystitis in the examined cat, it is worth sending a urine sample for bacterial culture with an antibiogram. This test will allow the treatment to be accurately tailored to the patient's needs.

A blood test should also be performed if a urological syndrome is suspected.

Based on these results, it is possible to assess how long the disease lasts and how advanced the urological syndrome is.

As I mentioned, in the case of chronic difficulties with urination, creatinine and urea increase, which is characteristic in conjunction with clinical symptoms.

In morphology, an increase in the number of white blood cells is observed, associated with severe inflammation. Hyperkalemia can also confirm the diagnosis

Treatment of feline urological syndrome

Treatment of feline urological syndrome

Management from the beginning should be based on bringing relief to the patient. It is important to remember that each patient is different, the treatment of urological syndrome should be adjusted to the clinical condition of the cat being examined.

The first step should be to restore the patency of the urethra.

The cat must be able to urinate, so if an obstruction is diagnosed, the procedure of choice is to insert a catheter under general anesthesia.

The catheter is sutured to the outer opening of the urethra and left for approximately 5 days.

During this time, the biochemical parameters of urine are monitored, and the catheter should be removed if the patient's condition improves.

If formed stones are present in the bladder, surgery should be considered once the patient has stabilized.

If the ultrasound examination shows a precipitate, but without formed stones, it is worth introducing the bladder rinsing with sterile physiological fluid, using the inserted catheter.

It is necessary to implement appropriately selected antibiotics and painkillers.

It is believed that treatment of a cat's urological syndrome should be continued until symptoms resolve and two weeks longer to prevent inflammation from rapidly returning. Some sources report the need for six-month, continuous antibiotic therapy (then it is worth adding probiotic preparations to the daily use), especially if it is another cystitis in the cat's life, combined with obstruction of the urethra.

Depending on the cause of the urological syndrome, appropriate therapy should be started.

If mineralization is noticed in the urine, it is necessary to change the pet's diet to one that helps dissolve mineralization, has diuretic additives and glycosaminoglycans that protect the bladder wall.

In addition, it is worth choosing a food with the description "low stress " - such diets have an addition of substances that have a calming effect on the pet.

Specialized cat food should be used throughout the treatment period and 12 weeks after all symptoms have disappeared, or in very severe cases, for the rest of the animal's life.

Properly selected cat supplements are very helpful in cases of urological syndrome.

Preparations that have a calming effect on stressed cats, pheromone collars, urine acidifying and diuretic supplements or appropriate vitamin combinations support the treatment and significantly improve the prognosis.

In the case of cats with an emotional urological syndrome, it is necessary to analyze the environment in which they live.

Enriching the environment of the cat's life with, for example, a new scratching post or enabling the exit to the balcony, significantly affects the comfort of the animal.

It is worth considering whether there are stress-triggering situations in your pet and whether they can be avoided - for example, in the case of strong stress during the trip and a direct relationship between moving and the onset of cystitis, it is better to involve someone in caring for your pet during the holidays than take the cat with you.

It is not uncommon for Urology Syndrome to develop after bringing a new cat into the house. In such cases, in addition to medication, a properly selected diet and supplements, it is imperative to consult a behaviorist.

The prognosis for FLUTD


The prognosis depends on the intensity of the cat's urological syndrome and the speed at which the appropriate therapy is introduced.

When cystitis and urethral obstruction occurred for the first time in a cat's life, treatment was promptly instituted, food and supplement recommendations are followed, the prognosis is usually good.

Unfortunately, the condition tends to recur.

However, remember to strictly follow the recommendations and regularly perform urine tests (weekly during therapy, and at least once a month after discontinuation of the antibiotic). If any abnormalities are detected, start therapy immediately.


What to do to prevent your cat from developing urological syndrome?

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are factors that predispose pets to FLUTD.

It is worth taking care that the cat is not obese.

You should devote time to it while playing - and it can also be fun to watch the moving toys.

It is worth enriching the cat's environment, it is a good idea to have a scratching post, provide a window sill or properly secure the balcony so that the cat can safely stay on it.

Changing eating habits by encouraging your cat to drink more water, including wet food, or soaking dry food can also prevent the development of urological syndrome.

The cat's stress should be limited, the cat's world should be as stable as possible. Before any stressful situation, it is worth turning on sedative preparations early enough to help him deal with the upcoming difficult situation.

If there are more animals in the house, it is worth ensuring that each cat has its own territory, if possible.

It is necessary to provide the correct number of litter boxes (there should be as many as cats in the house, plus one), they should be clean and placed in quiet places.

It is also important to have the right number of water and food bowls and toys.

Cats must also have their own safe places, hiding places where, if necessary, they can hide from their roommates. If there are problems with accepting other animals, it is a good idea to consult a behaviorist.

However, it should be remembered that, despite everything, the urological syndrome may recur. In such cases, it is important for the caregiver to react quickly and to start treatment as soon as possible.

Sources used >>

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