Does my cat have Cystitis?

Does my cat have cystitis
Cystitis in cats, also known as FIC (Feline Idiopathic Cystitis) affects a cat’s bladder and urinary tract. It is a common issue for cats and unfortunately a condition that can come back from time to time, normally when your cat is stressed.

Cystitis can be extremely uncomfortable for your cat but there are things you can do to help prevent and treat the condition.

Symptoms of Cystitis

  • Painful and frequent urination. You may notice that your cat is making lots of trips to the litter tray and only passing very small amounts of urine each time. Many cats will also cry during this attempt to urinate.
  • Blood in the urine. Specks of blood in your cat’s urine can indicate a bladder infection.
  • Strong smelling urine. A cat with an infection will often have urine that smells strongly.
  • Loss of bladder control. A frequent and sudden urge to urinate can mean that your cat cannot “hold” themselves for long enough to get to the litter tray or outside  in time and you may notice weeing “accidents” happening in places that your cat doesn’t normally use.
  • Squatting. You may see your cat frequently squatting and straining to urinate, either in the litter tray or elsewhere. This effort may pass a small amount of urine. Many cat owners mistake this squatting for constipation and do not think of it as a sign of a bladder problem.
  • Urinating in other locations. If it is painful to urinate, your cat may start to go outside of the litter tray or in unusual locations – often because he or she is associating the pain with using the litter tray or that location.
  • Over grooming. You may notice that your cat is grooming themselves more than usual, especially around the genitals and lower abdomen.

Treatment and prevention

Consult your vet as soon as possible if you suspect that your cat has urinary problems, especially if he or she is having problems or is expressing pain while trying to pass urine.

Treating Cystitis in cats usually involves a combination of changes both to the cat’s diet and to their home environment in order to reduce stress. Your vet may also prescribe painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory medications for a short period of time.

In many cases, cystitis is triggered by stress. Identifying what is causing your cat to be stressed can be difficult, however there are some common causes that you can watch out for, such as,  other cats, changes to their environment and new people.

You can also help your cat by encouraging them to increase their water intake.  There are various ways to do this but by far the most effective is to change over to a wet food. Any dietary change should always be done gradually as this can be a significant stress trigger for your cat. For tips on how to transition food read our blog How to introduce new food to your pet. 

If your cat won’t eat wet food, your vet may recommend a dry diet with added ingredients specifically designed to manage Cystitis.

Royal Canin SO dry cat foodRoyal Canin SO cat-urinary-gravy

Royal Canin Urinary S/O diets

Hill's Prescription Diet CD dry foodHill's Prespcription Diet CD wet food

Hill’s Prescription c/d Urinary Care diets

Your vet may also recommend you give your cat a urinary supplement such as Feliway Cystease or Zylkene both of which contain ingredients designed to reduce stress.

Signs that it could be a more serious bladder issue

While painful urination can be a sign of a bladder infection, it can also be caused by a more serious problem with the bladder.  A build-up of stones, crystals and debris in the bladder or uretha; damage to the urinary tract; tumours of the urinary tract; stress; spinal cord issues;  are all possible culprits and will require prompt care from your vet. Male cats can be particularly prone to developing urinary problems due to a narrower uretha.

It is typical for cats with cystitis to pass only tiny amounts of urine. However, if you think that your cat is straining but unable to pass any urine, this could be a sign of a blocked bladder. This would be classed as a veterinary emergency, and you should contact your vet immediately.

If your vet suspects that your cat’s urinary problems are caused by one of these problems, expect further investigations to be ordered such as an urinalysis, blood work and ultrasounds to pinpoint the issue.

There are specific urinary diet foods available to help cats with bladder problems and if appropriate, these will be recommended by your vet – never simply switch to a veterinary diet before receiving the advice of your vet. If this is what they suggest, you can buy a range of urinary foods and supplements, along with any prescribed medication (with a valid prescription) for great prices at Animed Direct.