Below the Pelt: Feline Urinary Tract Health
Any cat owner knows an unhealthy lower urinary tract is a big deal for our felines … both adult male and female. Kittens are generally not affected. Unfortunately what is called FLUTD (once called FUS) occurs more frequently than we would like, affecting the bladder and the urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside world. The anatomy of the male makes this syndrome worse for a male than for a female. Minerals can clump in the urethra and the urine can’t pass, which can create problems.
The causes of this problem are quite elusive. Some investigators think viruses are a cause. While others herald bacteria as a cause, although this is generally not the case. We do know that the unhealthy pH of the urine (due to improper diet), low water consumption, stress, lack of physical activity, breed propensity (long breed cats are more susceptible), allergy and obesity can all be factors that compromise urinary tract health.
While you may think that eliminating stress in your cat’s life should be easy, it’s not. How does one define stress, especially when it can be so subtle? Cats living in multi-cat households have stress all the time. Other causes of stress include severe weather, changes in family dynamics such as a house guest dog, cat or human, relocating to a new place or a new cat in the neighborhood.
The following are outward signs that your cat may be experiencing a urinary tract dilemma:
1. Straining to make frequent and prolonged attempts to urinate, which usually results in a small amount of urine passed during each attempt.
2. Licking the genital area excessively.
3. Urinating outside the litter box, preferring cool smooth surfaces like the bathtub or the tile floor.
4. The presence of blood in the urine.
5. When worse comes to worst, a cat will cry out in pain.
6. A cat will show symptoms of not feeling well; such as, not eating and hiding.
Dr. Jane believes in the importance of the diet when it comes to preserving our kitties’ urinary tract health. She is particularly concerned with the consumption of water. Dr Jane offers this kibble of information: Cat’s generally don’t like to drink water because long ago they roamed the deserts and didn’t need additional water. When a cat hunted, it obtained water from eating its prey. Nowadays, we feed our cats dry foods. Although feeding a premium dry food like our Life’s Abundance is healthy, many cats seldom drink enough water on their own.
It’s important to encourage water intake. Other than feeding some canned food, there are a few things you can do. Use ceramic dishes, not plastic, and rinse them daily with fresh water. Soap is not necessary every day and besides it can leave a residue. Place water dishes in more than one room of the house. Also, there are fountains which circulate the water making it more attractive to the cat.
For more information on urinary tract health, contact Cornell Feline Health Center, College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca N.Y. 1-800-KITTYDR. They are the hub of all feline medicine information.