Cats and FLUTD (urinary blockage) -- more common? Why?

In this thread lots of Dopers mention their cats (almost entirely males) have had FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease). As I understand it, that’s really a symptom which can have several causes, but the end result is the cat can’t pee. Either crystals in the urine, bladder stones, a spasming urethra, a mucous plug, or various combinations of such problems stopper him up.

This is unpleasant immediately, and fatal in a few days; not only is a burst bladder a possibility, but also inability to excrete toxins in the bloodstream can lead to things like cardiac arrest from potassium buildup.

When I was a preteen this happened to one of our cats; back then, it seemed like a new concept to us. I’d never had it happen to a cat before then.

Now I see lots and lot of people reporting this problem. It feels like it’s a very common issue these days, but I’m aware that such “feelings” can be deceptive.

Has there been a real change in the frequency of this diagnosis? Or was it always common, but now increased awareness among the public is leading to more vet trips in time to catch FLUTD, and fewer unexplained cases of “Look, Ethel, the cat died?”

Or are vets now diagnosing differently?

If this isn’t an artifact of a change in the way we think about disease, or a statistical bump due to a change in cat care, or an illusion, what’s causing it? Do we know?

When I was a kid, there wasn’t much that could be done about it, but if you bothered to bring your sick cat into the vet, it was a pretty common diagnosis.

Part of it is that the more cat owners are aware of the symptoms, the more likely is the cat to get treatment. In my case, the litter box happened to be in the bathroom, and I happened to be on the toilet when I noticed the cat struggling in the litter box and looking confused. If I hadn’t known that these are symptoms of FLUTD, I wouldn’t have immediately taken him to the nearest animal hospital. He would have died, and I never would have known why.

We had a cat with that 25 years ago, and the vet told us to never feed him dry food again. from googling “FLUTD dry food” it looks like this is still considered a major factor in the disease. Are there statistics about the sales of dry food vs wet food? Perhaps dry food has gained in popularity in recent years.

Read this:

Cliffs: Cats are carnivores and do not need much if any carbohydrates. Most current trends of cat diseases (diabetes, etc) are a direct result of an improper diet.

I believe it’s due to diet. But there has been little real science done.

Before 30 years ago or so, our dogs and cats were eating what they caught themselves, or from our tables. Now the vast majority are eating entirely prepackaged, highly processed, grain-and-starch based diets. They seem to survive okay on it, but it causes a high rate of chronic disease and degeneration.

Dogs and cats may look different from their ancestors, but they have changed very little over the few thousands years they have been domesticated. They are both carnivores - if they weren’t their teeth wouldn’t still be designed for grasped and shearing.

I feed my 2 dogs and 2 cats wholly on raw animal parts (including bone and organs) and they have zero of the common health problems (being overfat, tooth decay, bad breath, urinary tract issues) that my friend’s pets do.

My father the small animal vet once said that catheterizing a male cat with a urinary blockage was one of his favorite jobs.

Because the cat was so * grateful*.


Do note that while both are primarily carnivores, cats are much more exclusively so. A dog can thrive on a completely vegetarian diet, while a cat cannot. Optimum diet for a dog does include plant products, but a cat’s optimum diet is pretty much all dead animal parts.