Cystitis Symptoms and Treatments in Cats

Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder and is part of the FLUTD complex. Inflammation may be caused by stones (uroliths), tumors, bacterial infections, or may be idiopathic. Affected cats show frequent urination and straining, similar to an obstructed cat except urine is being produced frequently in small amounts.

Idiopathic cystitis in cats may be similar to interstitial cystitis in people. Affected cats urinate frequently, almost always with blood visibly present in the urine. Bacteria and uroliths or crystals are rarely found. An accurate diagnosis may require cystoscopy (evaluating the bladder with an endoscope) or a bladder biopsy. Stress appears to be a major factor in this disease in cats-which is very similar to the interstitial cystitis condition in humans that is also exacerbated by stress.

Urine should be submitted for culture and sensitivity tests to rule out infection or, if an infection is present, to determine which antibiotic to use. Ultrasound examination and X-rays (with or without contrast materials) are needed to determine the possible cause. Idiopathic cystitis can only be diagnosed if other causes are ruled out.

Treatment: Unfortunately, some cats with cystitis will also retain urine and form uroliths or urethral plugs. These cats should be treated for uroliths or urethral obstruction.

Most cases resolve without medical treatment, but reducing stress can hasten healing and decrease the likelihood of recurrence. It may be necessary to work with a feline behaviorist on the causes of your cat's stress. Feliway, an antianxiety pheromone, can also help calm the cat. Sometimes antianxiety drugs (such as amitriptyline) are prescribed for the cat.

There is some evidence that supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may be beneficial in preventing recurrence, as these substances are thought to protect the lining of the bladder. Feeding canned foods as opposed to dry foods seems to be helpful in preventing recurrences, as frequent voiding flushes bacteria and crystals out of the bladder. Diets such as Hill's c/d, which tend to provide near-neutral urine pH, seem to be best. Pain medications may keep the cat more comfortable.

This article is excerpted from “Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.