Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, encompasses a number of different conditions that can affect a cat’s bladder and urethra. Symptoms include not using the litter box or straining without producing urine, says Bonnie Beaver, DVM, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. Other symptoms of FLUTD include excessive licking of the genital area and blood in the urine. If you see these symptoms, and especially if your cat is straining to urinate, see your veterinarian immediately. It could be a sign of a urethral blockage, which can be fatal.

The first step in treating FLUTD is identifying the cause of the symptoms; culprits include bladder stones, infection, urinary tract blockage, and even cancer. Treatment may involve pain medication, antibiotics, and removing or pushing the blockage back into the bladder, says Dr. Beaver. Your vet may also suggest dietary changes or increased water intake to prevent future problems.