Monday, November 16, 2009

Question: Feline Urinary Issues pt 1

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat continues to have urinary issues and problems, why?



Dear Heather,

A number of years ago one of my partners, Dr. Hoffman, commented that many diseases that we had difficulty either diagnosing or treating 25 to 30 years ago are now diagnosed and treated with ease. One exception however is feline urinary disease. The trouble is that feline urinary disease is a complicated syndrome with multiple causes. Thus my plan is a three-part series. Today I will talk about the variety of lower urinary tract syndromes we see, next week I’ll discuss the causes, and in two weeks I’ll review the treatments.

The usual history of lower urinary disease is either that the cat is urinating outside the litter box and/or straining to urinate in the litter box. Our first job is to decide if the cat has urinary disease or a behavioral problem. A urinalysis is needed to determine if we have disease.

What are the typical feline urinary diseases seen?

Bacterial infection. The simplest cause but researchers say it is not that common in young or middle-aged cats.

Irritating crystals in the urine. The development of mostly magnesium crystals in the urine can cause a life-threatening urinary blockage in male cats. As crystals develop they can plug the urethra, which if left untreated, can be fatal. It is believed by many veterinarians that these crystals in the bladder can cause a cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) in both male and female cats.

Bladder stones. As with dogs and people, cats can develop bladder stones which mostly are made up of either calcium or magnesium. A bladder x-ray is necessary for this diagnosis.

Bladder cancer. A relatively a rare disease in cats.

Feline idiopathic cystitis. The word idiopathic means that we simply do not know the cause of the bladder inflammation.The inside of the bladder is inflamed but no cause has yet been determined.

Please visit our website, go to Resources, and explore feline lower urinary tract disease. You will see that this syndrome causes almost 50% of our cystitis cases.

Next week we will talk about the cause of these syndromes.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

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