What are Feline Idiopathic Cystitis?
Cats that are straining to urinate, excessively urinating, or urinating blood may have feline idiopathic cystitis. Although there is no treatment for this condition, there are ways to make your cat more comfortable, which is why it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
Issues that inflame and irritate a cat’s bladder and urinary tract are known as lower urinary tract diseases. There are many types of lower urinary tract diseases, but if there is no underlying cause of the disease, such as an infection or blockage, the condition is diagnosed as feline idiopathic cystitis. It is estimated that about two-thirds of lower urinary tract diseases are diagnosed as feline idiopathic cystitis.
Symptoms of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats
Both female and male cats may suffer from feline idiopathic cystitis at some point in their lives. The symptoms may come on rather quickly and last for days before the owner begins to notice. Some of the symptoms of this condition include:
- Bloody urine
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating inside the house or in other unusual areas
- Excessive attempts to urinate
- Licking the urinary opening
- Pain during urination
Causes of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats
Feline idiopathic cystitis is frustrating for both cat owners and veterinarians because there is no known cause for this disease. It is estimated that over half of lower urinary tract issues in cats are diagnosed as feline idiopathic cystitis, meaning there is no underlying cause of the symptoms.
However, some veterinarians believe stress may play a role in developing feline idiopathic cystitis. There is some evidence that suggests cats who have experienced a stressful life event or who do not handle regular stress well may be at a higher risk of developing feline idiopathic cystitis.
Diagnosis of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats
Because there is no true cause of feline idiopathic cystitis, diagnosis is difficult and focuses on eliminating other possible causes. It’s important to speak with your vet before the physical exam begins to discuss what symptoms you have observed, when they began, and if anything has happened that could be stressing your cat. For example, if you recently moved or if another pet in your home passed away, the cat may be experiencing stress.
The vet will need to eliminate the possibility that there is a bladder or urinary tract infection, which can be done with a complete blood count test and urinalysis. A urinalysis may also help the vet identify whether the cat has bladder stones, which could be a cause of the symptoms. The vet will also need to eliminate the possibility that there is some sort of blockage, which can be done using X-rays or an ultrasound.
After these tests have been performed, the vet should be able to make a diagnosis. If there is no evidence of an infection, bladder stones or blockage, the diagnosis will most likely be feline idiopathic cystitis, meaning there is no known cause.
Treatment of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats
Because there is no identified cause of feline idiopathic cystitis, it is difficult to treat. Treatment will focus on making the cat more comfortable by relieving urinary pain and discomfort. Your vet may prescribe tranquilizers or antispasmodics, which will stop the urethral spasms that are causing discomfort. Antispasmodics will also relax the urethra to allow the cat to easily release urine. This will also alleviate the constant urge to try to urinate that cats with feline idiopathic cystitis may feel.
The vet may also prescribe painkillers to make the cat more comfortable until the symptoms have disappeared. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be given to reduce the inflammation of the urinary tract and relieve pain.
If the vet believes stress is playing a role in causing feline idiopathic cystitis, he may prescribe pheromones, which will reduce stress and help the cat relax.
The vet may recommend you try to increase the cat’s water consumption while he is still experiencing symptoms to help flush out the urinary system.
Recovery of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats
Cats usually fully recover from feline idiopathic cystitis, however it is very likely they will experience it again in the future. To prevent the condition from reoccurring, the vet may recommend you change your cat’s diet. You may be asked to switch to canned food, which is softer and moist, so your cat consumes more water. To encourage your cat to drink more water, place water bowls in various spots throughout your home so he never has to travel far for a drink. It may help to switch to a pet fountain, which cats tend to prefer. You should also make sure the litter box is placed in a quiet area of the home. Cats often avoid loud noises, so if you put the litter box in a noisy part of the house, they may avoid going to the bathroom.
Try to create a less stressful environment for your cat by spending more time with him or creating more space for him to explore. If there is another animal in the house that could be causing stress to your cat, make sure to separate them.