Cystitis in cats

By Chris Geddes

Cystitis in cats

Cystitis in cats should really be called FLUTD or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. In fact it isn’t just one condition but a collective term for a number of diseases that affects the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) of cats.

You will know that your act is suffering from FLUTD if you see him or her in pain whilst urinating, struggling to pass urine, or if you see blood in the urine. Often the cat will move around the floor constantly passing small amount of blood. Occasionally you may just notice your cat licking his or her genitals excessively.

If your male cat is struggling to pass urine this is an emergency and you should call the vet immediately. Otherwise, it is still a painful condition so you should try to get a routine appointment as soon as possible.

People often presume FLUTD to be a “water infection” but, whilst this can happen, it is a very rare cause, so antibiotics are usually not necessary.

Another well-known cause is crystals or stones in the urine. If they are big they may need to be removed with surgery, but occasionally they can be dissolved with a prescription diet. These diets can also be used to help prevent recurrence.

The most common cause of FLUTD by far is known as “idiopathic cystitis” which means we don’t really know the exact cause. However, we do now how to treat it by:

o   Increasing the amount your cat drinks, for example through feeding a wet food, giving him “cat milk” and juice from canned meat and fish. You also make sure his water bowl is always topped up with fresh water and try adding ice cubes or using various types of bowls to encourage him to drink more. Some people even use a cat fountain as cats tend to like well-oxygenated water

o   Decreasing your cat’s stress levels for example by removing his cat flap (if other cats ever enter), preventing him seeing any cats in the garden,  and avoid too many changes to his environment. A “plug in” scent diffuser that gives off female hormones sometimes helps to decrease stress levels

o   Reduce his stress when urinating. You should always have one litter tray for every cat in your home, plus one extra litter tray. Make sure that the trays are not situation near his food or water bowl, and preferably in a discreet location so that he cannot be watched.

o   Making sure that he isn’t overweight as this can predispose him to future episodes

o   Drugs, nutraceuticals and a number of other things which your vet may recommend depending on the circumstances of your cat

If your cat has had FLUTD before, as well as all of the above, make sure you are looking out for the warning signs so that you can catch it early next time. If you see your cat licking his or her genitals, grooming the hind area a lot, or generally acting strangely, take him to your vet for a checkup. If you can predict that your cat might be exposed to stress in the near future (for example a house move, arrival of a new baby or a new pet in the house) chat to one of our vets on The Net Vet app about how to help prevent your cat from getting too stressed. We can also offer general advice to members who own cats with a known problem. Remember a cat struggling to urinate is a genuine emergency and you’ll need to visit your normal vet as soon as possible.

Dr Chris Geddes