How can I help my cat with feline lower urinary tract disease?

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, advises how to care for cats with FLUTDs.

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Q: I live in Ireland, but you may be able to advise me or perhaps recommend someone I could contact about my cat. He has just been diagnosed with haemorrhagic cystitis. It's been going on all summer. We tried Cystaid in his food—it made no difference. I use a Feliway Diffuser—no difference. He has to take prednisolone anyway for asthma, and he gets really bad without it. I have just changed his diet to Hill’s c/d specially formulated for idiopathic cystitis. He was operated on 10 days ago to remove a little part of the bladder which looked like a diverticulum—it was biopsied which gave back the results of haemorrhagic cysitis. He has been urinating more blood since the operation and it is worse at night. The vet is waiting to see what effect the new diet will have. My cat is having an awful time and I’m very worried about him. Other than this problem and the asthma, he is a happy 5-year-old who eats, plays and does all the normal cat stuff.

A: Many cats come to my office with clinical signs such as increased frequency of urination, urinating in inappropriate places, straining to urinate, and having blood in the urine. We call this feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). There are many types of FLUTD. The most common form of FLUTD is idiopathic cystitis, which is cystitis (bladder inflammation) of unknown cause. It sounds like your cat has undergone the full battery of tests, including a biopsy, and this is indeed what your cat has.

Idiopathic cystitis remains a mystery. No one is quite sure what causes it, and there is no definitive treatment. Dietary manipulation is successful on occasion, and the diet you’re feeding (Hill’s c/d—the newly formulated version) is one of the best diets for this condition. Some people have had some success giving supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. A few years ago, there was encouraging news that an antidepressant, amitriptyline, could help with this condition, but that has since been disproved. Feeding canned food only, and encouraging drinking (perhaps by using one of those fountain-type water bowls) is also thought to be helpful. Steroids, such as prednisolone, have shown no benefit for the treatment of idiopathic cystitis. Most cats recover from their bout of cystitis after five to seven days, however, flare-ups are common.  Much research is being conducted in this area. Until more information about the condition becomes available, all you can do is feed the special diets, supplement with glucosamine/chondroitin, encourage drinking, and have your cat frequently monitored to make sure some other associated condition does not develop, such as a bacterial infection or a bladder stone. Good luck. 

Regards,
Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Reader Comments

Cynthia    none of your business, AL

3/3/2009 3:52:15 PM

Awwwww! Poor kitty!!!!!! I hope it works out okay.

Jennifer    Portland, OR

10/15/2008 2:15:03 PM

My cat had this same problem, a bladder infection but with complete blockage (NOTHING was coming out). After an emergency trip to the vet and spending 2 nights with lots of tests, medication, and a catheter, I changed his food to what the vet recommended. However, he was a slug and would just lie around all day. I did more research and got second opinions from a holistic vet and finally after each of my other 3 cats had different health issues with their food (I was feeding EVO dry), I switched to a raw diet after 6 months of the incident. I feed Rad Cat Raw Food and would recommend looking for a raw diet that is tested for bacteria and has complete nutrition. While raw is not for everyone, feeding a wet diet that has no grain, veggies or fruit is the way to go. Cats are obligate carnivores and feeding them like cows (i.e. grains and veggies) will only lead to problems. Also, being descended from desert cats, they don't have a strong thirst mechanism and dry foods means your cat is perpetually dehydrated. Now we have no health problems with all 4 cats and my boy is happy and playful (more than he has ever been!)

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

4/24/2008 5:00:40 AM

I have a cat with this problem also, not as severe as hers though. Maybe it is because I caught it sooner. Anyway, I have been feeding my boy food from Solid Gold (made in America)Katz N Flocken and I also got this Berry Balance from Solid Gold that I put on his food. So far he is doing well. Oh yes, I also got a water fountain for kitties to encourage more drinking and have put other water around the house.

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