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FLUTD and FIC in Cats

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) are two of the most prevalent and concerning urinary issues to affect cats. Cats, known for their independent and enigmatic nature, can often be masters of disguise when it comes to hiding their discomfort or pain. As responsible pet parents, it is essential to be vigilant about their health and recognize signs indicating problems with their urinary system.

"Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, or FIC, is a specific form of FLUTD that accounts for about 65-70% of FLUTD cases."

In this guide, we will explore cat urinary health, including the causes, symptoms, and features of FLUTD and FIC. We will also discuss FLUTD and FIC home management and preventive measures, and the use of innovative Pet Parents® products for our furbabies’ well-being.

Understanding and Managing at Home

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or ‘FLUTD’ is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of disorders affecting the lower urinary tract in cats.

The term"Idiopathic" means that the cause is unknown, and “Cystitis” refers to inflammation of the bladder. This means Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is generally diagnosed once other causes, like urinary stones, infections, or urethral obstructions have been ruled out.

FLUTD and FIC can greatly affect a cat's life, causing discomfort, pain, and distress. Knowing the differences between these conditions and recognizing their common symptoms is important for early detection and effective treatment.

"Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, or FIC, is a specific form of FLUTD that accounts for about 65-70% of FLUTD cases."

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) encompasses a range of conditions impacting the cat bladder and urethra. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, FLUTD can present with several signs. Some of the major signs to look out for include:

  • Frequent urination: Cats with FLUTD may pee more frequently than usual, often in small amounts.
  • Straining to pee: If your cat is spending a lot of time in the litter box and seems to be straining or having difficulty while peeing, it could be a sign of FLUTD.
  • Blood in cat urine: Hematuria, or blood in cat urine, is a common symptom of FLUTD. The urine may appear pink, red, or even brownish.
  • Urinating outside the litter box: Cats with FLUTD may start peeing outside their litter boxes as they associate pain or discomfort with using it.
  • Crying or vocalizing while urinating: Some cats with FLUTD may cry out or show signs of pain while trying to urinate.
  • Licking genital area excessively: Cats experiencing discomfort from FLUTD may lick their genital area excessively in an attempt to find relief.
FIC and FLUTD in Cats / Photographer: Thorsten Nilson

FLUTD can occur at any age, but it is more frequently seen in middle-aged, overweight cats, that have a sedentary lifestyle, use indoor litter boxes, lack outdoor access, or eat dry diets. FLUTD in cats can be triggered by various factors such as urinary stones, cat urinary tract infections, urethral obstruction, diabetes and hyperthyroidism, emotional or environmental stress, cohabitation with other cats, and sudden disruptions in their daily routines.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

Feline idiopathic cystitis, also known as feline interstitial cystitis or FIC, is a condition that causes inflammation of the bladder in cats.

As mentioned by PetMD, inflammation occurs in the interstitium, which is the space between the cells in the cat bladder. Over time, this inflammation can lead to thickening of the bladder wall. This thickening can be detected through ultrasound or cystoscopy.

FIC shares similar symptoms with urinary tract infection (UTI) in cats. Cat UTI symptoms include:

  • More frequent urination
  • Painful urination—straining, wincing, or even crying out when they try to pee
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Presence of blood in the urine
  • Excessive grooming around the genital area
  • Changes in behavior—increased irritability or lethargy
  • Presence of bacteria

But it's important to note that, unlike cat UTI symptoms, there is no bacteria involved with FIC in cats. However, FIC can be harmful as severe inflammation may lead to an obstruction of the urinary tract. This obstruction prevents cats from urinating and requires immediate medical attention.

If you suspect your cat may have FIC or is experiencing any urinary issues, it's crucial to consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) is a diagnosis that veterinarians reach after ruling out other potential conditions with similar symptoms. Although it can be an expensive and difficult process, accurately diagnosing FIC is crucial. Possible dangers of undiagnosed FIC in cats could include cat bladder stones, cat urinary tract infection, urethral obstruction, acute kidney injury, toxin ingestion, cancer, blood in cat urine, blood clotting disorders, idiopathic renal hematuria, and rare cases of prostate disease in cats. By conducting thorough testing and examinations to eliminate these possibilities, veterinarians can confidently diagnose FIC and administer the appropriate treatment.

Managing FLUTD and FIC in Cats at Home

It is crucial to seek veterinary care if you suspect your cat has FLUTD. The vet will perform a thorough examination, possibly including urine analysis, blood tests, and imaging to diagnose the specific condition.

Here are some general at-home management tips:

  • Provide Fresh Water: Encourage increased water intake to promote urine dilution and reduce the risk of crystal formation. Consider using a water fountain, as cats are often attracted to flowing water. To make it even more enticing for your cat, you can try adding ice cubes to their water bowl. The floating ice will not only keep the water cool but also add an element of playfulness. Keep in mind that some cats prefer their water at room temperature, so be observant and adjust accordingly.
  • Stress Reduction: FIC is linked to stressed cats. Create a calm and enriched environment for your cat, providing hiding spots, vertical spaces, and interactive toys to keep them engaged. Consider incorporating Forager® Bowl into your cat's daily routine to provide mental stimulation and alleviate stress. Further, creating a designated "safe space" for your stressed cat, such as a cozy bed or Pawtect® Blanket, can help them feel secure and at ease. Also, regular playtime sessions with cat interactive toys can not only keep your cat entertained but also help them release pent-up energy.
  • Litter Box Maintenance: Keep the litter box clean and easily accessible to encourage proper litter boxes usage. Make sure to scoop the litter box at least once a day to keep it clean and odor-free. Consider placing Pawtect® Pads under litter boxes to help trap any stray litter and prevent it from being tracked throughout the house. If you have multiple cats, provide one litter box per cat plus an extra one to ensure they all have enough space.
  • Dietary Changes: Speak with your vet about a balanced diet that supports urinary health. Your vet may recommend a prescription diet, designed to prevent crystal formation. Additionally, they can provide guidance on portion control and feeding frequency to ensure your pet maintains a healthy weight.
  • Cat Diapers: If your cat is experiencing urinary cat incontinence or has difficulty using litter boxes due to pain, Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers can be used temporarily to manage accidents and keep your home clean. Pet Parents® cat diapers are specially designed to provide comfort and protection for cats with urinary issues. They are made from soft, absorbent materials that help prevent leaks and odors. With Pet Parents®, you can ensure that your furbaby stays dry and comfortable while still maintaining a clean and hygienic home environment.
  • Gland Wipes: When you notice your cat excessively licking a particular area or showing signs of discomfort, using Pet WiPees™ Gland can be beneficial. The wipes can effectively remove any debris, dirt, or bacteria that might have accumulated on your furbaby’s private areas due to the licking. By doing so, they help reduce the risk of infection and irritation, promoting a healthier urinary condition for your furbaby.
FLUTD and FIC in Cats | Copyright: Mark Allen Bowers Jr 2022

"If your cat is having difficulty using litter boxes due to pain, Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers and Pet Wipees™ can be used temporarily to manage accidents."

Remember, at-home management is meant to complement professional veterinary care, not replace it. Always consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan for FLUTD and FIC in cats.