Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

WWW HolisticPetHealth

|Home | Introduction |Principles of Natural Health Care |Development of disease |Pet Health Management
Common Pet Health Problems
| FAQ | Factsheets | Contact


Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Burns Real Food for Cats is suitable for cats of all agesIdiopathic (no specific cause) FLUTD affects ¼ - ½ million cats each year in the United States.

FLUTD is the collective term for many health problems, such as cystitis, urinary crystals/stones and urinary tract infections. However, many of the symptoms are similar: frequent urination, urinary incontinence, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, urination in unusual places, painful urination and changes in urine volume and concentration.

In serious cases FLUTD may lead to anorexia, vomiting, urinary blockage, depression and diarrhoea (caused by the bladder filling to excess and stopping the kidney from efficiently removing waste products).

It is estimated that 10% of cats are suffering from FLUTD. FLUTD can be caused by mucosal irritation in the urinary tract. Although, most cases seem to have no apparent cause, possible factors which may lead to irritation include: viruses, bacteria, crystals and calculi. Most common are the crystals/stones or calculi in the urinary tract (viruses and bacteria are quite rare). The stones/crystals are known as uroliths of which, the two most common are Struvite uroliths and Calcium oxalate uroliths.

The incidence of these stones has changed over the last 15 years, struvite uroliths have decreased in incidence and calcium oxalate uroliths have increased in incidence, the reason for this is thought to be due to new types of urine acidifying diets available to prevent Struvite uroliths.

Research has suggested that Persian, Himalayan and Burmese breeds are more likely to suffer from FLUTD, as are overweight, older and male cats. Uroliths block the flow of urine from the bladder. This is more likely in male cats because they have a longer, narrower urethra.

Feline cystitis is thought to be caused by an abnormality in the bladder epithelium (membrane). The epithelium is supposed to filter out unwanted substances but in the case of cystitis it may be allowing some through, causing irritation and inflammation.

Other views on cystitis are that it is caused by stress. Stress may be caused by a change in environment e.g. moving house, a new addition to the home e.g. anything from furniture to a new pet, visitors, a change in diet or even the weather.

Some vets have suggested feeding cats in a multi-cat household separately. This avoids stress caused by competition over food. It also avoids over-feeding by more greedy cats.

Cystitis may be induced if the cat has been ‘holding on’ to urine. They will prefer to go to the toilet in a clean litter tray, so make sure you clean it regularly. Hooded litter trays are not preferable, as owners tend to leave waste in them for longer. Cats may also prefer to urinate and defecate in separate trays, so providing two trays can help. It is recommended that if you have more than one cat, they should all have their own litter tray. Try not to place the litter tray near their food, cats do not like going to the toilet where they eat!

According to alternative vet, Richard Allport in his book 'Heal Your Cat, the Natural Way', Vitamin C (250mg per day) can help recovery from cystitis and herbal remedies include Dandelion, Parsley, Bearberry and Watercress (taken as infusions).

To prepare an infusion, he recommends:

Add 1tsp of the dried herb, to one cup of boiling water. Leave to stand 20 mins then strain. Give 2 tsps twice daily with food for a week (when the cat has an acute infection). Make a new infusion every 2 days.

NB these may need to be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for FLUTD, not on their own. Burns Pet Nutrition always advise that owners seek specialist advice when using alternative remedies for the management of a health problem.

Nutrients to consider:

Diets high in magnesium may contribute to a greater incidence of struvite uroliths, although magnesium has been found to inhibit calcium oxalate uroliths. Therefore, owners should ensure that the dietary requirements for magnesium are met but not exceeded.

Excess dietary calcium should be avoided to help avert the occurrence of calcium oxalate uroliths. Foods high in calcium include: mineral supplements, milk, cheese, yoghurt, bread and breakfast cereals.

Studies suggest that increased levels of phosphorous in the diet can influence the concentration of magnesium and calcium in the urine. Excess phosphorus can lead to a higher likelihood of Struvite stones.

High protein diets should be avoided to avert the onset of both struvite uroliths and calcium oxalate uroliths.


Common pet health problems
John Burns Pet Health Management Programme







John Burns can be contacted at 99 Ferry Road, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA17 5EJ - Freephone (UK) 0800 018 18 90 | Nutritional advice Freephone (UK) 0800 083 66 96
Tel 01554 890482 | Fax 01554 891476 | email nutritional advice

©2006 John Burns. No part of this website can be reproduced in any form without the express permission of John Burns BVMS Lic Ac.MRCVS - Legal notice