Cystitis in Cats

Cystitis in cats is an inflammation of the urinary bladder in medical terminology. Cystitis in cats is quite common. The main causes are feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) and bacterial urinary tract infections as well as urinary crystals and stones.

How Dangerous is Cystitis in Cats?

Untreated bacterial infections of the urinary bladder can ascend along the ureters, causing infection and damage to the kidneys. In addition, cystitis is very painful and stresses the cat even more.

Another problem is bladder infections, which, depending on the cause and severity, lead to partial or complete occlusion of the urethra (obstruction). The cats can barely pass urine or pass no urine at all. This makes them an acute emergency and needs to be presented to a veterinarian immediately!

Symptoms: How Do I Recognize Cystitis in Cats?

The cat’s bladder is one of the organs of the lower urinary tract. Inflammation in this area often leads to the following symptoms:

  • Problems and pain during urination (dysuria)
  • Cramp-like pain in the urethra and/or bladder area (stranguria)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • frequent urination (pollakiuria)
  • increased licking of the genitals
  • Urination in unfamiliar places (perineurial, e.g. in the sleeping or feeding area)

Diagnosis: How is Cystitis Diagnosed in Cats?

First, the vet conducts a thorough interview with the owner (anamnesis). The aim of this is to obtain important information about the disease from the owner. For example, the vet asks whether symptoms occur while the cat is urinating. For example, does she often pass only small amounts of urine? He will also ask you questions about possible injuries and learn how to feed and hold your cat.

Although cystitis is usually not an acute emergency in cats, it is advisable to have a general clinical examination performed. In a short time, it is possible for the veterinarian to record the current condition of the cat using important vital parameters. These include the general condition of the cat, breathing and heart rate, the condition of the mucous membranes in the mouth, and the internal rectal temperature.

Examination of the Urinary Tract

If the vital parameters are all normal, the veterinarian can begin with a special examination of the urinary tract. There are three diagnostic measures for this.

Therapy: How Can Cystitis be Treated in Cats?

Therapy for cystitis consists of two parts. On the one hand, the vet treats the causes of the bladder infection, on the other hand, he tries to alleviate the symptoms for the cat.

Regardless of the cause, pain relievers and anticonvulsant drugs are necessary. In the case of bacterial cystitis, a targeted administration of antibiotics – determined with the help of a resistance test – is added.

If there are urinary crystals or even urinary stones, additional measures are necessary. In this case, the cat still needs medication to lower the urinary pH value and an appropriate diet. A lower pH value in the urine causes the crystals – and possibly even the urinary stone – to dissolve.

If the urinary stone is large and cannot be resolved with the medication, an operation is necessary.

Support measures for the home

In addition to medication and diets, you can also help your cat. Avoid all stress and help your cat lose some weight. You should of course always take into account the diet prescribed by the veterinarian.

Also, make sure your cat is getting enough water. Cats fed dry food in particular tend to drink too little. For balanced water and electrolyte balance, it is, therefore, advisable to offer the cat wet food.

It is best to also clean the water bowl daily and set up several bowls in your apartment. Or you can try a drinking fountain. These encourage some cats to drink better.

Prognosis: What are the Chances of Recovery from Cystitis?

Depending on the cause, both the necessary therapy and the prognosis differ. Although cystitis can usually be treated quite well in cats, a blockage of the urinary tract is life-threatening.

The longer this persists, the worse the cat’s chances of recovery and often also of survival. In contrast, Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) often heals quickly.

Causes: How Does Cystitis Develop in Cats?

Cystitis is common in cats, and the causes can be varied. Indoor cats and hangovers are particularly often affected. In order to provide a better understanding, the causes are divided into infectious and non-infectious.

Infectious Causes

Older cats in particular often suffer from infectious cystitis caused by various bacteria. Animals with underlying diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus) are more often affected. There are two common ways that cats develop infectious cystitis.

Via the urinary tract: As a rule, bacterial infections rise via the urethra to the bladder or are caused by irritation in the bladder. The most common reason for this is the formation of urine crystals. These can gradually accumulate to form urinary stones.

In cats, struvite or calcium oxalate stones are usually found. They arise when the pH changes from acidic to basic. An important factor in this is the cat’s diet.

Via the blood: As part of blood poisoning (sepsis), bacteria can reach the bladder. In addition to a nearby surgical wound, the original portal of entry can also be a smaller wound at a more distant part of the body.

Non-Infectious Causes

Often it is not possible to find the reason for cystitis in cats even with a detailed diagnosis. In such a case, the so-called Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (English: FIC) is spoken of. This disease is a sterile inflammation of the bladder that occurs for reasons not yet known.

It is believed that many factors interact, which are shaped, for example, by stress or other neurological or hormonal changes. As a result, the immune system is weakened, which promotes inflammatory reactions in the cat.

Prevention: Can Cystitis be Prevented in Cats?

There are a few important points to keep in mind about preventing cystitis in cats. Pay particular attention to:

  • a good physical condition
  • sufficient exercise
  • a stress-free environment
  • sufficient drinking water intake
  • low levels of magnesium and phosphate in the feed
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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