Feline idiopathic cystitis

Is your cat straining to pass urine? Does he or she make several attempts only to produce a very small amount of urine? Does he go outside of the litter box? Does he lick his hind end excessively? Is there blood in the urine? Does he seem in pain and vocalizes during urination? If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions then your cat probably has a lower urinary tract condition. Idiopathic cystitis could be one of the causes. This condition is characterized by an inflamed bladder mucosa, a thickened bladder wall and subsequent pain during urination.

Feline idiopathic cystitis is essentially a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that first we have to rule out other causes of lower urinary tract problems such as urinary crystals, bladder stones, bacterial infection or a bladder tumor. What is causing this condition is not well understood at this point but is most likely multi-factorial. It appears that stressed cats and those that eat dry food thus produce a concentrated urine are more prone to the disease. Typically the condition resolves on its own within 5 to 7 days without treatment but will reoccur periodically.

Many drug therapies have been proposed but few controlled studies have been performed. Treatment is aimed mainly at keeping the cat comfortable while the condition runs its course. Analgesics and antispasmodics to relax the urethra can be prescribed. To try to prevent episodes, we recommend feeding a diet that contains glucosamine and antioxidants. Hill’s c/d multicare is the perfect diet because it encourages drinking and therefore dilutes the urine. The canned version is preferred because it contains a lot more water than the dry kibble. If your cat doesn’t like canned food a water fountain is an easy way to encourage your cat to drink more water.
Last but not least, avoid stress. Environmental enrichment is proving to be a powerful tool to help reduce stress and prolong time between episodes. A high density cat population is a risk factor. Cats need places to hide, climb and scratch. Litter boxes need to be clean and easily accessible. Playing with your cat is also very important.