Feline lower urinary tract disease

Feline lower urinary tract disease refers to a variety of conditions involving the urethra and bladder that result in pain and inflammation. The cause of more than half of cases is unknown (idiopathic cystitis) but can be related to stress, environment, excess weight, or insufficient water consumption.

Other conditions contributing to feline lower urinary tract disease include bladder stones, urinary tract infections, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or cancer. Some cats become obstructed and unable to urinate, which can be fatal without emergency treatment.

What are common feline lower urinary tract disease signs in cats?

Early signs include:

  • Unkempt haircoat
  • Overgrooming genitals or belly
  • Urinating outside the box

Intermediate or advanced signs include:

  • Frequent urination of small amounts
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in urine
  • Irritability and abdominal pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vocalising
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary obstruction

Feline lower urinary tract disease causes frequent urination in cats.

How is feline lower urinary tract disease managed in cats? 

A urinary obstruction requires immediate veterinary care and repeated obstructions may require corrective surgery. Some bladder stones can be dissolved with diet, whereas others need surgical removal. 

Bladder infections are more common in older cats and respond to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Multi-modal management may be needed for idiopathic cystitis, including a diet change, increased water consumption, stress-relieving medications or supplements, and environmental enrichment. 

All feline lower urinary tract disease patients require pain control during their recovery. Discussing a personalised management plan with your veterinarian is important for the best outcome for your cat.

What is the prognosis for cats?

Male cats with repeat urinary obstructions have a poorer prognosis, despite corrective surgery. The prognosis for cats with bladder stones is good, depending on their response to diet change or surgical stone removal. Some cats with idiopathic cystitis can have complete resolution, whereas others have refractory signs, in spite of a consistent multi-modal approach. 

Management tips for a cat with feline lower urinary tract disease

At-home needs include:

  • A clean litter box in a quiet place for each cat, plus one extra
  • Consistency with diet, medications and supplements
  • Environmental enrichment (e.g. increased playtime, a cat tree, and cat toys)
  • Reducing exposure to stressful situations
  • Increasing water consumption with a fountain or multiple water bowls
  • Monitoring urination, appetite, vomiting and weight

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately seek help from your veterinarian if your cat stops eating, or is vomiting, unable to urinate, or vocalising in pain.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your cat’s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 


To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website goodbyegoodboy.com.au.



This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.