June 09, 2021 Cats

Feline Bladder Disease, FLUTD and FIC: What You Need to Know

A cat underneath a sheet

Feline Bladder Disease, FLUTD and FIC: What You Need to Know

June is Adopt a Shelter Cat month. Every year to celebrate, I devote my blogposts in the month of June to our furry, feline friends. June was chosen as Adopt a Shelter Cat month in part because kitten season is near peak and there are many kittens available for adoption in the summer and early fall. Wonderful adult cats are available for adoption from your local shelter year-round. Today’s blogpost will focus on new research into feline lower urinary track disease or FLUTD.

What is FLUTD?

If your cat has had FLUTD, you know how miserable they are. Cats with FLUTD strain to urinate, urinate frequently, have bloody urine and urinate outside the box. Cat families often recognize the problem when they notice their cat going in and out of the litter box more frequently than normal while making a distressed meow. Male cats seem to be at increased risk for developing FLUTD. This disorder does not have a single cause. Urinary tract infections, urinary blockage, bladder stones, bladder cancer or hind end injuries can all result in signs of FLUTD. The most common cause of FLUTD is feline idiopathic cystitis, or FIC. Idiopathic is a fancy word for “cause unknown.” In some unlucky cats, FLUTD is a recurrent problem.

How often does FLUTD reoccur?

A recent research paper from Germany answered this question. The veterinary researchers studied just over 100 cats with FLUTD and found about one third had a recurrence in the first year following diagnosis. Recurrences are not always a relapse of the same problem. In a small portion of cats (~15%), the recurrence of FLUTD had a different cause than the original episode.

How can recurrent FLUTD be prevented?

Veterinarians employ a variety of strategies to prevent recurrent episodes of FLUTD. One option is antibiotic treatment, after testing the urine for bacteria. Veterinarians also recommending making changes in environment, including litter box, diet and water supply. These changes seem to be most important for cats with bladder stones. The study showed 2 or more interventions resulted in a lower recurrence rate of bladder stones compared to no intervention at all.

What is the outcome of FIC?

For most cats with clinical signs of FLUTD, FIC is the diagnosis, because no underlying cause can be identified. This is a frustrating diagnosis for cat families, veterinarians and – I’m sure – your cat if they could talk. However, despite this frustration, the outlook for these cats is good. In a long-term study of cats diagnosed with FIC in Norway, 70% of cats with FIC recovered without additional episodes, or had only a few recurrences and are still alive 10 years later.

The Takeaway

  1. Whenever possible, approve a complete diagnostic evaluation with each episode of FLUTD because the cause is not always the same for each episode.
  2. If your cat has stones, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding stone prevention since research shows preventive measures decrease the risk of stone formation.
  3. Be patient while your cat recovers because a long life is possible for most cats.
Tags: adoption, cats, feline bladder disease, feline lower urinary track disease, FIC,

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