Diagnosing Feline Interstitial Cystitis

Feline interstitial cystitis is a common disease amongst cats. It can become a serious condition but there are many early warning signs and symptoms. With early detection and intervention, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary suffering and expense. The more you're aware of your cat's normal urinary habits, the more you'll be able to detect when something is wrong. Here are some things to watch for.

Normal Feline Urinary Patterns

Each cat is different but there's a normal range of behaviors for most cats with a healthy urinary system. Most cats will urinate about 3 to 5 times a day and will produce about a cup full of urine each time. They'll usually poop about 10 to 20 minutes after eating and will produce fairly solid feces that are of uniform color. Most cats will go to the box right when they need to pee or poop and will spend just about 3 to 5 minutes in the box at the most. 

What Happens in Interstitial Cystitis

When a cat has interstitial cystitis, there's an infection in the urine and in the urinary tract and/or bladder. The infection is caused by and imbalance in the mineral content and water content of the urine. If a cat is not hydrated enough, the urine can thicken and become infected. This causes inflammation and discomfort. A mineral imbalance results and often causes the formation of small crystals which block the flow of urine and can even obstruct the bladder which is a life-threatening situation. 

Changes in Litter Box Behavior

During this disease, a cat will change how he behaves in the litter box. He may visit the box a lot more often and in ways that seem illogical. He might go back to the box when he was just there 2 minutes before. This is because he feels constant pressure on the bladder which makes him feel like he has to urinate.

Straining in the Box

Because the urine is thicker and the parts of the urinary system are inflamed, the urine is harder to pass. You may hear your cat making straining sounds in the box. It may appear that he's trying to physically push something out that he can't get out. You may hear a strange meow or pushing sounds.

Less Urine Output

Even though your cat is constantly going to the box, he may be producing less urine. You'll notice less clumps to clean out or hear less urine hitting the box when your cat is urinating.

A Regression in Housetraining

If your normally house-trained cat suddenly starts urinating outside the box, suspect the possibility of interstitial cystitis or a prior episode you might have missed. This happens because the cat has begun to associate pain and discomfort with the box. He won't understand that this is because of his body. He'll think it's because of the box and start avoiding it.

Changes in the Urine

During interstitial cystitis, you'll notice changes to your cat's urine. You may notice a more foul smell. You may also notice blood in the urine.

Bladder Obstruction

If interstitial cystitis progresses without treatment, the bladder can become completely obstructed. You'll hear your cat making horrible meowing sounds and maybe even hiding or running from you. If this happens, seek immediate veterinary treatment.