Urinary problems are common in cats of all ages and are seen more frequently in the cooler months of the year as cats tend to consume less water then. There are several different types of urinary problems seen in cats and these can be collectively referred to as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). FLUTD is generally used to describe a cat that is having difficultly urinating. It is more commonly seen in male cats, and cats with diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Other risk factors include living in multi-cat households, stress, obesity, old age and diets consisting of dry food only.
Sings that there is a problem include:
-Drinking more water than usual
-Producing only a small amount of urine at a time
-Blood in the urine or litter box
-Urinating outside the litter box
-Licking the genitals
-Straining to urinate
A cat that cannot urinate is an emergency situation. If your cat shows any of these sings it is very important to closely monitor the animal to ensure that it is passing urine. If you notice the cat is straining to urinate or sitting in the litter tray without producing anything you must contact your veterinarian immediately.
There are many different causes of feline lower urinary tract disease, including bladder infection, crystals or stones, cancer and trauma such as being hit by a car. Stress is one of the most common causes of urinary problems in cats. Stresses can be caused by dietary changes, moving house, difficultly accessing litter trays, other pets or children in the household, and prohibition from expressing natural behaviours such as scratching and climbing.
If you are taking your cat in for a veterinary consult regarding a urinary problem it can be useful to bring along a urine sample and to provide information about your pet’s daily water consumption. Measuring the quantity of water consumed each day can provide important information, but can be difficult in multi-pet households. If you are able to, measure out the same amount of water each day (or twice daily, preferably) and provide free access for your cat. Then, when changing the water measure out the quantity remaining and subtract from the amount supplied. This information will help your veterinary to diagnosis the specific problem. To collect a urine sample, pick up a urine pot from your veterinary clinic. Then clean the cat’s litter box and sparsely cover the bottom with non-absorbent litter or small plastic containers such as needle caps (also available from your vet clinic), and lock your cat in a room with it until they urinate. Then, simply empty the urine into the container, write the time of collection on the jar and refrigerate until your appointment.
Unfortunately, once a cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD it is likely to recur. However, management and prevention are very similar, with the common goal of increasing water consumption, reducing stress and managing infection, pain and crystal and stone formation. To do this we would recommend:
-dividing meals into 2-3 feedings each day, instead of one, and include wet food in the diet (or wet down biscuits) to increase water intake
-add some salt-free chicken broth or stock to water to increase desirability and provide water in several shallow, wide bowls (cats dislike getting their whiskers wet)
-consult your veterinarian for a suitable prescription diet
-provide one litter tray per cat plus for each animal in the household plus one extra. If your house has multiple levels provide litter trays on both stories as well. Litter trays should be placed in quiet areas where the cat will not be disturbed and should be large enough for the cat to comfortably use
-clean litter trays daily and wash them out weekly with an odourless disinfectant
-reduce stress by providing a dedicated resting area that is quiet, secluded and has an escape route for each cat in the house. This area should be inaccessible by dogs and children in the household
-and, enable the expression of natural behaviours by providing scratching poles and climbing areas. Each animal should also be offered a warm bed, individual feeding area and a separate water and food bowl.
For specific advice regarding your cat, or to make an appointment, please phone us on (02) 6778 3133 or drop in see us at 116 Bridge St, Uralla.