We spoke to Dr Martine Van Boeijen from Perth Cat Hospital to help us understand more about feline urinary tract disease. Often the number one issue that brings cat owners to raw feeding, it's also the most confusing medical issue.
Dr Martine Van Boeijen explains the difference between UTI, crystals and FLUTD, how they are diagnosed and the best ways to manage each one.
For young to middle aged cats under 10 years of age the most likely cause of FLUTD will be feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) however this condition can only be diagnosed by excluding all other causes. Idiopathic is a term used to describe a condition has no known cause identified. It is currently thought that FIC is caused by multiple factors including genetics, environment and an altered and inappropriately nervous system response to stress.
To investigate FLUTD in younger cats, urinalysis is the first essential step. Depending on your cat's age and symptoms, they may also require blood testing to assess a complete blood count, serum biochemistry and thyroid hormone levels.
For mature and senior cats older than 10 years of age:
The most common cause of FLUTD in older cats tends to be urinary tract infections and these generally develop secondary to an underlying disorder such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. These cats will require blood and urine testing including a complete blood count, serum biochemistry, thyroid hormone testing and a urinalysis with a culture and sensitivity. It is also prudent to measure blood pressure to screen for hypertension.
Cats with recurrent symptoms or those who fail to respond to treatment will require further investigations. This will usually include abdominal x-rays and ultrasound, and sometimes also advanced contrast studies (pneumocystogram). For senior cats with FLUTD symptoms, an abdominal ultrasound can be a useful tool to screen for bladder cancer. If a suspicious looking mass is found, your vet may also recommend a biopsy.
Major causes of FLUTD
The types of possible underlying causes of FLUTD in cats will largely depend on the cat's age.
Young to middle aged cats (under 10 years of age)
Idiopathic cystitis (FIC) 65%
Uroliths (bladder stones) 20%
Urethral plug 20%
Anatomical defects 5-10%
Neoplasia (cancer) 1-5%
Bacterial infection (UTI) 1-5%
Older cats (over 10 years of age)
Bacterial infection (UTI) 50%
Uroliths and UTI 17%
Uroliths (bladder stones) 10%
Urethral plug 7%
Neoplasia (cancer) 3%
Idiopathic cystitis (FIC) 5%
For more info on the Five Pillars visit Perth Cat Hospital website