Grandma Anna used to complain about her cystitis all the time, and when her cat Kiki developed idiopathic cystitis, Grandma Anna was quite understanding of how important proper treatment was for her beloved cat.
Idiopathic cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder. Also known as lower urinary tract disease, causes of the problem are unknown except that there are some diet and environmental factors that increase the cat’s risk for developing cystitis.
Risk Factors for Cystitis
Several factors have been shown to cause a greater risk for developing idiopathic cystitis, and they include diet, environment and genetics:
Diets that are primarily dry food with high minerals
Male cats can get a more severe, life-threatening form if they develop a urinary tract obstruction in addition to the cystitis. Female cats, though they do get cystitis, rarely develop a urinary tract obstruction because the urethra of the female cat is wider and shorter than that of the male cat.
Signs of Idiopathic Cystitis
Cats suffering from cystitis often exhibit the following signs:
Urinating in areas other than the litter box (bathtub, sink, ceramic floors…)
Meowing while in the litter box (a sign of distress)
Straining to urinate
Blood in the urine
Increased urinations in the box or outside the box
Increased grooming of the genital area (a sign of discomfort)
The more serious result of idiopathic cystitis is urinary obstruction. If your male cat suddenly stops eating, is very lethargic (more so than usual), is vomiting, and makes frequent (and failed or painful) tries at urinating in his litter box, he may have a urinary obstruction. If he shows these signs, he must be taken to the veterinarian immediately. This is an emergency situation; if it is after hours, find a 24-hour veterinary clinic. If his bladder ruptures, he could die.
Diagnosis of Cystitis
If your cat shows those signs, you need to take him to the veterinarian for treatment. The veterinarian will palpate the bladder and may perform a urinalysis.
Treatment for Idiopathic Cystitis
Treatment involves changing the cat’s diet to canned food, reducing the cat’s stress, encouraging more water drinking, increasing exercise, and pain or anti-inflammatory medication that may be prescribed by the veterinarian.
Canned food helps increase your pet’s intake of fluids, thus allowing the cat to make less concentrated urine, which is healthier for the urinary tract and will also be less painful.
If the cause is an infection, the veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic.
To increase your cat’s drinking of water, you can also add clam juice or tuna juice to his food. In addition, constantly running pet fountains encourage cats to drink and play more in their water. Such products, Drinkwell, for example, are available in pet stores.
Toys, climbing trees, scratching trees, laser pointers…anything your cat can play with and chase are recommended to reduce his stress and increase exercise. Because many cats will hold their urine if the litter box is unclean, ensure that your cat’s box is routinely clean to encourage him to use it frequently.