Bacterial Cystitis in Cats

Bacterial infection is one of the causes of cystitis in cats. There are other causes, many of which are unknown. Cystitis is referred to as FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) and FUS (Feline Urologic Syndrome) and this condition makes it painful, difficult or even impossible for a cat to pass urine. While the cat may seem to visit the litter box more frequently than usual, you may notice straining with little to no results, discomfort or crying out from pain, blood-stained urine or even complete avoidance of the litter box. While idiopathic cystitis is the most common (with idiopathic meaning that the cause cannot be determined), it's very important for the cat to receive proper examination to rule out bacteria and other specific causes. Successful treatment options vary, so finding the cause, if possible, will be beneficial.

Causes of Bacterial Cystitis

Bacterial cystitis in cats is caused when bacteria enters the bladder and forms cysts. When bacteria begins to grow at the skin around the anus, it may continue to spread through the urethra and into the bladder. Cats who have recently undergone urinary catheterization for removal of urethral obstructions, or any other surgical change to the urethra, are at a higher risk of bacterial infection. Theories have suggested that potential causes may include neutering, long-term consumption of dry food and feline herpes virus. None of these theories have been proven, so the cause of bacterial cystitis remains largely unknown. It has been determined that older cats are at a much higher risk due to the production of less concentrated urine, which encourages bacterial growth.

Upon confirmation of the presence of bacteria, especially in recurring cases, additional testing may be encouraged to determine underlying conditions. Bladder stones, tumors and nervous system abnormalities may all be causes for recurrent bacterial growth.

Determination of Bacterial Cystitis

While bacterial cystitis is common among other species, cats usually develop cystitis for other reasons. Antibiotic treatment should be reserved for cats who have been examined and tested thoroughly where bacterial infection is indeed present. Many tests may need to be run in order to determine the cause of cystitis in cats. When other test results are unable to be determined, x-rays may need to be performed. X-rays will most often be normal in the case of bacterial infection. Severe cases, however, may cause a noticeable thickening of the wall of the bladder. Bladder walls will thicken during as a result of bladder cancer as well, so analysis should also be performed on the sediment contained in a urine sample.

If the presence of bacteria is revealed, or where bacteria is assumed present, a bacterial culture will be performed to determine the origin and type of infection, such as e. coli, staph, strep or proteus. It's important for appropriate antibiotics to be selected based upon this result, as improper administration of antibiotics can cause resistance to medication and recurring or chronic cases of cystitis will be much harder to treat.