Managing Cystitis in Cats With Amitriptyline

Cystitis in cats is defined as an inflammation of the bladder. It is also known under the names of Feline Urologic Syndrome or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Syndrome. If your cat urinates more often than usual and in other places than the litter box, you should take her to the vet. Another sign that should worry you is bloody urine. This can indicate the development of tiny crystals in the bladder.

Causes of Cystitis

Until now, researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of this medical condition. However, there are certain factors that are suspected to lead to cystitis. In male cats, early neutering is believed to be a possible cause. Dry cat food, once believed to be a factor that causes cystitis, seems to play a more important role in the development of the disease rather than in causing it. In other words, the condition of cats that are fed dry food tends to get worse. Another possible cause is represented by a feline herpes virus, but additional tests need to be performed in order to confirm this theory.

Treatment Options for Severe Cases of Cystitis

As soon as the symptoms are reported to the veterinarian and the diagnosis is confirmed, a treatment can be prescribed for your cat. If the stones located in the bladder do not exceed ½ inch, they don't need to be removed surgically. In male cats, the crystals may also develop in the urethra, preventing them from urinating. The toxins that accumulate in the kidneys, along with the failure to eliminate urine from the bladder, will lead to the death of the cat. Such serious cases can only be treated through surgical procedures.

What Is Amitriptyline?

Mild cases of cystitis can be treated with medication such as Amitriptyline, which is a psychoactive drug. According to the studies performed at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (Ohio State University, Columbus), Amitriptyline tablets are able to reduce the clinical signs of cystitis in 60 percent of the tested subjects. Also known as Elavil, Amitriptyline is recommended because stress is believed to influence the development of cystitis. After administering Amitriptyline, the levels of the following substances increase:

  • Plasma norepinephrine
  • Dihydroxyphenylglycol
  • Epinephrine

The substances listed below were not influence by the medication:

  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Dopamine
  • Dihydroxyphenylacetic acid
  • Adenocorticotropic hormone
  • Cortisol

As numerous studies show, Amitriptyline increases the sympathetic activity in cats, which results in a relief of the symptoms.

Amitriptyline Side Effects

At the end of the test, 7 out of 9 cats had a greater body weight than at the beginning of the test, and 8 featured a coat of a lower quality. Other common side effects include:

  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety

If any of these side effects are noticed, you should inform the veterinarian. This problem is solved either by lowering the dosage or by prescribing an alternative to Amitriptyline.