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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
(Scientific Name: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

It is a well-known fact that most cats do not drink enough water.  Unfortunately, this can lead to Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). This disease is also sometimes known as Feline Urologic Syndrome (or FUS). FLUTD affects both the bladder and the lower urinary tract system and includes bladder inflammation, bladder stones and crystals that can cause urethral blockage (in the tube that carries urine from the body) and/or infection.


Bladder stones (or uroliths) are actually crystals that have formed from bacterial, fungal or viral infections. Urethral obstruction or blockage is more commonly seen in male cats because their urethra is longer and narrower and therefore more prone to blockage. However, both females and males do get urinary tract disease, but it’s only usually life-threatening in male cats.


Many people do not realize their seemingly healthy feline could have FLUTD until it is too late. All cases of FLUTD are similar and present the same type of symptoms, but the actual causes of FLUTD are many and there may be more than one cause. Below are a few of the common causes of lower urinary tract disease in felines.


» Urinary stones (Calcium oxalate or struvite stones are the most common) are quite common and can be detected by an x-ray or ultrasound. Depending on the type of stone, it may be dissolved with a change in diet.    Do not use any diet to dissolve stones without consulting your veterinarian. The same diet can dissolve one type of stone, but make another type worse. If your cat has been eating predominantly dry and    fish-  flavored foods, this can contribute to FLUTD.


» Urethral plugs are composed of large quantities of protein and minerals.  Some may also contain fragments of tissues, cellular debris, blood cells and crystalline minerals. The causes behind the formation of these    plugs include genetic, infections, prolonged urine retention and stress.


» A stressed-out cat can lead to FLUTD.  If possible, make sure each cat has his or her own litter box which is cleaned regularly. 


SYMPTOMS: Below are some of symptoms to watch for in your cat – if you see any of these symptoms, get your cat to your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately for proper diagnosis and life-saving treatment. If left untreated, a complete blockage of the urethra can cause death in as little as 72 hours. The symptoms you should watch for in your feline friend include:


» Increased frequency of urination;

» Straining to urinate, but only a few drops appear; you may think your cat is constipated;

» Blood in the urine;

» Excessive licking of the genitals – more than normal;

» Lethargy, vomit or drool;

» Stopped using the litter box and urinates in other places; and

» Crying near or around the litter box as they attempt to urinate with little or no results.


It cannot be stressed enough, if you see any of these symptoms exhibited by your feline, seek medical help immediately! Once at the vet, a physical examination of the cat’s abdomen will reveal any tenderness or pain and whether the bladder is enlarged and full or small and thick, both signs of lower urinary tract disease. Your veterinarian will also do a urinalysis test and possibly a blood test along with abdominal x-rays or ultrasound to confirm a diagnosis of FLUTD.

Once a blockage has been diagnosed, there are several options your vet may recommend to effectively treat your stricken cat.


  1. Catheterization: If the bladder is blocked by a plug, the cat requires immediate catheterization to prevent kidney damage and/or rupture of the bladder.
  2. Fluid Therapy: After the blockage is removed, fluid therapy (either under the skin or in the vein) is usually given in order to rehydrate your cat and flush out the bladder.
  3. At-home prevention: Once the cat is at home, increase the amount of liquids in the diet. This can be done by stopping dry food, feeding canned food, adding water or low-sodium brother to the diet, and feeding fluids to your cat.
  4. Surgery: If your cat repeatedly suffers blockages in the urinary tract, your vet may recommend surgery to make the urethral opening larger to reduce the risk of future blockages.


For uncomplicated FLUTD, the treatment is quite different. Usually the cause is a bacterial infection, aggravated by concentrated urine. Alkaline urine is more likely to cause problems than acid urine. The treatment is aimed at decreasing infection, decreasing concentration of the urine and, if necessary, making the urine more alkaline. Although this is not an emergency, if your cat is very uncomfortable, it is kindest to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

There is a type of FLUTD which does not usually involve bacteria. This form responds best to measures that decrease inflammation and decrease the concentration of the urine.




As with many diseases, prevention is always the best policy. Below are some changes you can do to help support a healthier urinary tract in your feline.




» Change to grain-free canned/raw food instead of dry – canned food is approximately 70% water. If you want to continue to feed your cat dry food, moisten it with some water.  The dry food has only about 10% water which increases the concentration of the urine and can subsequently lead to the formation of crystals.  Fish-flavored food is not good for your cat. Do not salt the food. This does not make cats drink more and can cause dehydration.


» Buy a drinking fountain for your cat – they find these irresistible and that will encourage them to drink more.


» Most cases of FLUTD resolve themselves on their own within 5 days; however, antibiotics may be necessary to prevent severe pain and damage to the cat.  Your veterinarian can advise you if your cat needs antibiotics.


» An antidepressant such as Amitriptyline or a prescription painkiller like Torbutrol will help your cat with FLUTD. Again, your veterinarian can best advise proper treatment.


Integrative Medicine


Not all animals can use all natural remedies; allergic reactions to oils
and/or herbs and digestive problems are possible.
A natural remedy is not a substitute for veterinary care.


Please note, feline lower urinary tract disease can be deadly and should never be self-treated once it has developed. Always consult with your veterinarian on the best course of action for your feline friend.


The following nutraceuticals or natural/herbal formulas and acupuncture can also provide effective, routine preventative treatment for your felines to avoid the development of FLUTD.


» Glucosamine and chondroitin: The building blocks of the protective glycosaminoglycan coating of the bladder. Glucosamine sulfate also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help with bladder spasms due to FLUTD. During an acute stage: 500mg daily, then 250 mg intermediate healing stage and 125 mg longer-term (if needed).


» Vitamin C: Should only be used during an acute stage of this disease; 500-1,000mgs a day.


» Potassium citrate: Shown to raise the pH (lower the acidity of urine. This is only to be used for oxalate crystals and excessively acid urine. It will increase the tendency for struvite crystals to form. Oxalate crystals only form in acid urine - so reducing the acidity should help prevent them. However, potassium citrate will not dissolve crystals or stones that have already formed. If there are stones that are too large to pass naturally through the urethra, they need to be removed from your cat surgically.


» Uva Ursi is a well-known urinary herbal antiseptic used for centuries. This herb has antibacterial properties that help fight infection and can assist in protecting your cat’s bladder wall and urethra. It also offers astringent effects and helps to both shrink and tighten mucous membranes in the body aiding in natural and effective urination.


» Cranberry extract makes the urine more acidic which makes it much less susceptible to infection. Cranberries are good for struvite stones, but should be avoided with oxalate crystals or stones. Cranberry also has the ability to block any type of bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall.


» Lavendar: Can help ease your feline’s stress.


» Couch Grass Root, Cornsilk, Marshmallow Root or Slippery Elm Mark: These herbs help to relieve inflammation and soothe pain.


Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
– Feline Products –

(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)

(Live Link)






Cats: 1 capsule sid
Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb bid

Glycosaminoglycans will support mucosal barrier of bladder wall and relieve pain.

Ba Zheng San25

Cats: 2 pills bid or tid
Dogs: 2-4 pills bid or tid

Decreases damp heat, promotes urination.


1 capsule per 20 lb bid or
1 scoop per 20 lb bid

Maintains normal bladder health.


Cats: ¼-½ tablet bid
Dogs: ½-2 tablets bid or tid

Clears heat from heart, lungs, liver, stomach, bladder; tonifies spleen qi, resolves dampness, circulates and nourishes blood.


Cats: ¼-½ capsule tid
Dogs: ½-2 capsules tid

Antibacterial; blocks attachment of bacteria to bladder wall, acidifies urine.

Small Animal

Cats: 1 capsule sid
Dogs: 2 capsules/25 lb sid

Broad-spectrum antioxidant formula.


To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference
(Click Here)


2011(Always consult with your veterinarian to properly diagnose any health problems. Misdiagnosis and/or mistreatment -- including OTC and/or homeopathic products -- can lead to dangerous complications.)



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