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Healthy Cats

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Urine Spraying in Cats

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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD is a common condition in cats. Although it has many of the same signs as bacterial cystitis (frequent urination, straining to urinate and bloody urine), there’s no bacterial infection. In most cases, no cause for the condition can be determined. Stress, multiple cats in the household and eating dry foods, which reduces urine production, may increase a cat’s risk of developing FLUTD. It’s more common in male cats, who may develop an obstruction of their urinary tract that makes it impossible for them to urinate. This is a medical emergency that needs immediate veterinary care.

Diagnosis of FLUTD is made by ruling out the other causes of cystitis. The signs may resolve on their own within a week without treatment, but they’re likely to recur. Treatment may involve many different strategies. One treatment, environmental enrichment, may decrease the rate of recurrence by 80%. Enrichment involves making various changes in your cat’s life to provide her with ample mental stimulation. This can make her more likely to use her litter box. Giving your cat more toys, increasing her access to windows and glass doors so she can see outside, and spending more time petting and playing with her may be helpful. Please see our articles, Enriching Your Cat’s Life and Cat Toys, for additional fun ideas for livening up your cat’s life. In addition, you may need to increase the number of litter boxes in your home. There should be one litter box per cat, plus an additional box. Unscented litter should be used. The box should be scooped at least once daily and thoroughly cleaned at least once a month with an odorless cleaner. (Avoid using harsh cleaners, such as products containing bleach or ammonia.)

Medical treatment and dietary changes may also be needed to resolve the symptoms of FLUTD. Feed your cat canned food to increase her water intake, and make fresh water available at all times. Some medications may be useful during flare-ups of FLUTD or to reduce long-term symptoms. Drugs to relieve stress and anxiety or to reduce pain and bladder inflammation may be useful for cats who don’t respond to environmental enrichment.

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