Intersitial Cystitis in Cats

Cystitis in cats has many symptoms and can be prevented through diet and other lifestyle changes. Cystitis is another name for FLUTD standing for feline lower urinary tract disease or feline interstitial cystitis. It shows up in male and female cats but males get it more often. It can progress to a very serious situation where the bladder becomes obstructed. The disease afflicts nearly 1% of the cat population.

What's Happening in the Body

In cystitis, the lower part of the urethra, the bladder, and sometimes the kidneys become infected. Crystals of various sizes form because of mineral deposits. The crystals can then block the bladder or the urethra and the urine backs up in the body. It then becomes extremely toxic. The bladder also becomes inflamed and enlarged which a vet can feel during a physical exam. The cat's genital area feels irritated, and urination is painful. The irritation is what causes some cats to obsessively clean their genitals or rub on cool surfaces in an effort to soothe themselves.

Symptoms of Intersitial Cystitis

A cat with cystitis exhibits different behaviors and symptoms related to elimination. The cat will feel like he needs to urinate all the time but he won't be able to produce that much urine. While in the box, he'll struggle to release the urine. He may spend more time in the box and visit it more frequently without much success. He may even make noises that indicate that he's struggling. Eventually, he might begin to associate pain with the litter box and thus avoid it. Your previously trained cat will start urinating all over the house. The urine may begin to smell even worse than usual and may seem cloudy or discolored.

Possible Causes of Feline Cystitis

A variety of factors can contribute to feline cystitis. A sedentary cat or a cat who experiences stress in his environment may be a factor. When a cat gets a virus, he may be more susceptible. A cat who eats mostly kibble is not hydrated enough. Without the proper hydration, the urine can become overly thick and can become infected. Thicker urine is also more likely to form crystals. virus may bring on the disease as well as stress, lack of exercise, or lack of exposure to the outdoors. Dry food with a high mineral content puts a cat at higher risk. Diets that lack the appropriate nutrition from whole foods and moisture contribute to the formation of bacteria in the urine. Thicker urine is more likely to lead to infection and crystal formation.

Prevention and Treatment of Intersitial Cystitis

There are several ways to prevent and treat interstitial cystitis. The primary prevention is a healthy diet with moisture as part of the food. Switching to a high quality canned food with whole ingredients and a low mineral content is key. Once your cat develops cystitis, the vet may prescribe antibiotics for the infection. She may also flush the cat's system with water to dillute the urine and restore balance in the body. MEMO is a form of treatment that also addresses other factors that can cause stress in the cat's environment, i.e. overcrowded living or a dirty litter box.