Below the Pelt: Feline Urinary Tract Health

Vet with Dog andCatAny 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.

Additional Reading:

Maintaining Cat Urinary Tract Health

Warning Signs:  Feline Urinary Tract and Stress


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1 Response

  1. Morgine says:

    One way to INCREASE water intake in cats is to always TAKE UP THEIR FOOD and never leave kibble down to nibble all day. As the doctor states, in the wild they got their water from their prey. They also only ate once or twice a day, and on average, about five days a week. Wild animals naturally fast a day or more each week. 🙂 WILD cats do NOT nibble. It is Not a natural habit. It is only the Cat Kibble Manufacturers who encourage you leave the food down, because they are in the business of selling as much of their food as possible. 🙂 And most people find it inconvenient to pick up the dishes and put away what is not eaten in 15 minutes. They have been brain washed through advertising to believe that cats are hungry and need to nibble on and off all day. This is only true with rare cases in cats with certain diseases usually associated with old age. This is not true for the average healthy cat.

    Like the ads of how dry kibble “cleans cats teeth”! I went on line once for a friend to prove to her this was not true, and found about forty articles explaining what happens when cats eat dry kibble and how it actually helps create teeth problems. This was in about ten minutes. The “only” articles we found about it keeping their teeth clean was by the manufacturers themselves. And that was in less than ten minutes! Who knows if I did a bigger search? Bones clean teeth. Some chew toys clean teeth. Eating dry kibble does not!

    Taking food up, encourages cats to drink water if and when they are hungry instead of putting more kibble into their system. Kibble REQUIRES water in order for their body to be able to use it. It must be re-hydrated in the stomach. So kibble actually takes water “out of the system” in order to digest it. It is said that over 75% of Americans are dehydrated as well today. Probably because of very similar reasons. The average American consumes a lot of processed foods and little fresh juicy fruits and veggies every day. So they need more water to properly digest all that processed food! 🙂

    I have been holistically caring for my animals for over 20 years and have been an animal communicator for 19. So I have learned a great deal along this path to maintaining my own health and my animal friends too!! Lots of water is essential for good health of humans and animals.

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