Cat with urinary tract disease

Freowin the cat gets special medical care and treatment for feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).
By David Dickson

Freowin the cat came to Best Friends needing special medical care. And when it comes to care for special needs, he definitely came to the right place. Before arriving at the Sanctuary, Freowin was diagnosed with a condition called feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). The diagnosis was confirmed by Best Friends’ vets. FLUTD is a catchall phrase for anything that can cause problems in the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra).

Cat FLUTD symptoms

Signs and symptoms can vary, as can the severity of the problems. It’s a lifelong condition, yet with proper treatment a cat can go years between flair-ups. "Any person that has a pet with this condition should be counseled by a veterinarian," explains Best Friends’ veterinarian Dr. Patti Iampietro.

Freowin the cat who has urinary tract disease

Freowin’s flair-ups seemed to be quite regular. In addition to chronic urinary tract infections, Freowin had digestion problems and would vomit on a regular basis. While not incontinent, Freowin had frequent accidents outside the litter box. The poor guy needed a little extra help! His previous family did their very best, but reached a point where they couldn’t keep up with his medical needs.

As it turned out, space was available in a special room at the Sanctuary, so Freowin came to live at Best Friends. Many of the other cats in this room, one of two rooms at Vinny’s House, also have urinary tract problems. So, all the cats eat the same specialized food designed to help their urinary tract.

Treatment of FLUTD

"Treatment [for FLUTD] depends on the underlying cause of the condition," explains Dr. Patti, "but most of the time we focus on three things: reducing stress in the household, encouraging more water consumption and acidifying the urine with diet manipulation."

Diet manipulation is a big piece of the puzzle, and one in particular where consulting with your vet becomes so important. Over-the-counter foods are an option, yet not always sufficient. "Prescription food is usually necessary," points out Dr. Patti. As for the increase in water, Dr. Patti suggests a few tricks here, too. "I often recommend putting cups with water and, if possible, little running fountains around the house, as cats like to drink from things like this."

Freowin also receives a variety of oral medications and regular checkups from caregivers and medical staff to make sure he’s on the right path to recovery. The good news? Freowin has only been at the Sanctuary a few short weeks, but already he’s feeling much better.

At Best Friends, he has access to top-notch medical care every day, as well as caregivers who are willing to go the extra mile for him. With the specialized diet, the medications, and a hefty dose of TLC, Freowin has turned over a new leaf. He has stopped vomiting, for one thing, and is no longer having accidents outside the litter box. This condition can be painful if untreated, yet now he appears to be quite comfortable.

Shy kitty

Freowin the cat who has FLUTD
Freowin and caregiver Sandra

He’s still a bit on the shy side, though. Freowin only ever lived in the one home before, and the concept of having so many other cats around has taken him some getting used to. He’s not afraid of them, really. You might call him more of a reluctant wallflower. The same holds true for his feelings around people. Freowin isn’t quite ready to leap across the room whenever he wants a scratch behind the ears. He spends a lot of time up in the rafters, watching carefully from above. Make no mistake, however, he does enjoy attention.

"He loves to be brushed," says caregiver Sandra Wilder. "He loves attention when you approach him." Freowin is the kind of cat who needs you to make the first move, but once you do, he’s putty in your hands. "He’s so sweet," adds Sandra.

Someday Freowin will know what it’s like to live in a home again — and next time around, his new family will have a whole list of medical tips and tricks at their disposal. Until then, Freowin has the best possible care he can receive, and a whole team of people pulling for him. He’s in good hands.

Visit Best Friends' resource section to read about cat healthcare.

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

Caring for Pets