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  • Writer's pictureDr Mike Groombridge MRCVS

Spotlight on: cystitis in cats (FLUTD)

Medical spotlight series: in this series of weekly articles we will discuss some common medical conditions in pets to help you recognise the signs and be able to take the appropriate action.

This week we are discussing ‘Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)’

The scenario: Your cat doesn’t seem quite right. He is has started urinating in unusual places round the house and seems to be going to the litter tray much more regularly than normal. He is licking his groin a lot, eating less and is more quiet than normal. He may also be yowling and vocalising round the house.

These could be signs of FLUTD. In this condition the lower urinary tract (ie bladder and urethra) becomes very inflamed, and it becomes difficult and painful to pass urine.

There are various causes of this; but the most common cause in cats under 10 years old is stress. Other causes include a urinary tract infection, urinary crystals and urinary stones, and cancer.

Stress may seem like a trivial reason for getting cystitis but stress can cause a lot of problems in cats not just cystitis.

In severe cases the lining of the bladder and urethra can become so inflamed that the cat can become blocked and is no longer able to pass urine. This is a medical emergency and if left untreated will usually be fatal.

Blockage is much more common in male cats than females.


If the cat is managed before the cystitis becomes too severe the treatment will depend on the underlying cause. This can usually be determined by looking at a urine sample.

If it is a stress cystitis then anti-inflammatories, increased water intake and measures to reduce stress in the house are indicated.

Urinary tract infection will usually require antibiotics. Urinary stones or crystals can be more complicated depending on the type of stones.

As mentioned, if your cat is completely blocked emergency management is required to unblock the cat. Usually the cat will need to stay in hospital for several days until the inflammation has subsided and the cat can pass urine normally again.

Cats that have FLUTD are more likely to get it again in the future. We can discuss measures to try and prevent its recurrence again.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to know more about this condition.

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