Preventing urinary issues in your cat

Jan 19 2016

Urinary problems are one of the most common issues that vets see in cats. This is in part due to their tendency to stress easily, and also due to the sensitive nature of their bladder wall. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent urinary tract disease in cats.

What are these urinary issues?

The main complex of issues that affects the urinary system in cats is called FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease). FLUTD involves conditions such as cystitis, crystals in the urine, bladder stones, and blocked urethra. These issues are all intricately linked and related.

All conditions within the FLUTD complex are directly related to stress. When cats stress, their immunity is down and this weakens the bladder wall. Bladder and urinary tract inflammation (cystitis) then occurs, which affects the pH of the urine and over time leads to crystal sediment formation. If left without treatment, enough of this sediment can lead to a blockage in the urethra. When a cat's urethra is blocked this means urine cannot pass, so the bladder swells with urine and becomes painful and life-threatening. If the bladder bursts inside the abdomen, it is often fatal.

Signs of urinary disease can present as:

  • Urinating outside the litter tray
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Agitation or vocalisation when trying to urinate
  • Blood-tinged urine
  • Passing small amounts of urine, or no urine

If you see any of these signs in your cat, seek veterinary attention immediately.

How to prevent FLUTD in your cat:

1. Feed a good quality food

For cats that haven't had urinary issues before, you can help to prevent any issues from developing if you stick to the super premium cat food and avoid cheap, low-quality brands. High quality cat food has more ideal levels of magnesium, phosphorus, protein and calcium to help avoid the formation of crystals in the urine. Any cat food from Hill's Science Diet, Royal Canin, or Advance is considered super premium and high quality.

It can also help to include wet food in your cat's diet, rather than solely relying on a dry food only diet.

For cats that have suffered from FLUTD in the past, your vet may recommend a prescription diet for life. These include Royal Canin Urinary s/o, or Hill's Prescription Diet c/d

2. Keep their weight down

Obese and overweight cats are far more likely to get urinary issues, particularly a blocked urethra. Obese cats often re-block again after being treated if they don't lose weight.

The best ways to keep your cat's weight down involves, just as with humans, exercise and diet.

To exercise your cat, try to figure out what type of toy they like best. Some people assume their overweight cat is too lazy to play with toys, but then discover that their cat just needed a more interactive toy, or a different type of toy such as one containing feathers.

With regards to diet, your vet will likely recommend a good weight loss food for you with guidelines for amount of food to feed per day. Great vet-prescribed weight loss diets include Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic plus Urinary canned food, or Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Satiety or Obesity.

3. Reduce stress

It can be hard to predict what will stress your cat out. Common causes of stress include moving house, new visitors, a new pet, a trip to the vet or groomer, loss of family member or pet, new furniture or even rearranging your furniture.

If there is a pet or family member (such as a child) that your cat doesn't like, try to provide adequate hiding areas, so that your cat feels they have somewhere safe to escape to. Things like cat trees, hidey-hole beds, and high shelf beds such as window beds can all help make your cat feel safe.

If a stressful situation is anticipated (such as visiting family, new furniture or moving house), you might like to try a feliway spray or diffuser. This is an odourless pheromone that appeases nervous cats and makes them feel calm. Many vet hospitals use this in their cat consult rooms or wards, to help calm feline patients.

Another way to reduce stress is to provide enrichment in your cat's environment. Having plenty of toys will not only help to keep them fit, but will help to keep them occupied and distracted from any stress that may be affecting them.

4. Encourage water intake

It can be hard to encourage your cat to drink more water.

Just like the saying goes; you can lead a cat to water...

However, many people find they can increase water drinking by providing plenty of bowls, or a water fountain. Cats are naturally drawn to moving, fresh water and will drink more if they have fresh water available. Always make sure you replace water at least once a day.

It also helps to provide cats with wet food.

5. Provide enough litter trays

It is important to ensure you have enough litter trays throughout your house. A good formula to work off is to provide the same number of litter trays as you have cats, plus one extra. So for example, a one-cat home should have two litter trays, and a three-cat home should have four litter trays.

There are many ways you can help to avoid urinary issues in your cat. By maintaining a good body weight, decreasing stress, encouraging water intake, and providing enough litter trays and toys, you will be giving your cat the best chance at a healthy urinary tract.

Posted by Dr Carla Paszkowski

When Carla isn't talking about petcare at PetCircle, she enjoys playing mum to her fluffy little cross-eyed feline fur baby, Smudge.

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