What is Bladder Inflammation?
The most common condition of the feline bladder is inflammation of the urinary bladder, or cystitis. This condition in cats is called feline idiopathic cystitis, and it often indicates that there is another problem present in the urinary system.
Problems in the urinary system are difficult to miss in felines, but these issues can be difficult to diagnose and manage due to the complicated causes that may be present. Affecting both male and female cats whether they are intact or altered, inflammation of the bladder causes many irritating and painful symptoms and is typically a chronic condition for cats who experience it.
Symptoms of Bladder Inflammation in Cats
Owners most frequently recognize the symptoms of bladder inflammation when they become frustrated with changes in their cat's behavior both inside and out of the litter box. The signs of cystitis can be subtle initially, but cats frequently will urinate outside of their litter box when suffering this painful condition because they begin to associate the litter box with those feelings of discomfort.
If your cat is displaying any of these signs, it is important to schedule an exam with your cat's veterinarian as soon as possible to determine and treat the cause of their cystitis:
- Inappropriate urination outside of the litter box
- Straining to urinate
- Blood in urine or near litter box
- Smaller than average output of urine
- Frequent urination attempts
- Vocalizing while urinating
Causes of Bladder Inflammation in Cats
Idiopathic cystitis by definition has no known cause, but there are conditions that felines can have that will cause inflammation of the bladder. Medical conditions such as crystalluria, or the formation of crystals in the urine, as well as environmental factors, can cause cats to experience cystitis.
Causes of feline cystitis can sometimes include:
- Crystals or stones forming in the urine
- Bacterial infection
- Tumors or lesions of the urinary bladder
- Stress from other cats or environmental alterations
- Moderate to extreme obesity
Diagnosis of Bladder Inflammation in Cats
Diagnostic imaging is a vital part of determining the potential cause of feline cystitis. Some veterinarians have access to ultrasound machines and can utilize these to study the thickness of the bladder walls and see any floating debris in the bladder that would indicate the presence of crystals. Masses on the bladder wall will also be visible with ultrasound technology. Radiology may also be used to determine if there is a stone present in the bladder. If a stone is the cause of the cystitis, it will need to be surgically removed as soon as possible to alleviate the inflammation and prevent obstruction of the urethra.
If there is a physical cause for your cat's cystitis, the most useful test will be a complete urinalysis. This test studies the chemical and microscopic properties of urine that indicate medical issues; a urinalysis tests for the presence of blood and protein, considers the pH and specific gravity of the urine in relation to the cat's hydration status and microscopically inspects the urine for the existence of crystals, bacteria, and red and white blood cells. If infection is noted, many veterinarians may run a basic blood panel to determine if the infection is affecting the kidneys.
Treatment of Bladder Inflammation in Cats
The treatment of feline cystitis involves relieving the cat's discomfort and treating the underlying cause of the inflammation if there is one. Immediate treatment for cystitis often includes a course of pain medication to reduce the inflammation and keep the cat happy while any potential causes are treated. In addition, efforts should be made to reduce the cat's stress at home.
If the inflammation is caused by an infection, the veterinarian will prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat a general infection. Persistent infections often require a culture and sensitivity test to determine the type of bacteria present and the antibiotic it is sensitive to.
Crystals may need to be handled surgically to prevent obstruction of the urethra, a fatal condition in cats. If the condition is minor at this time, the veterinarian may prescribe a diet designed specifically to dissolve these crystals. Stones must be removed surgically, and a prescription diet may be needed to prevent the reformation of these stones.
Recovery of Bladder Inflammation in Cats
Feline cystitis is often a chronic condition that must be managed effectively. Stress factors in the cat's environment should be limited, and many cats require a prescription diet to prevent medical issues that cause inflammation of the bladder. An ultrasound examination and a urinalysis test should be repeated by the veterinarian with your cat's annual wellness visit to ensure no issues are occurring without the presence of symptoms.