If you want to know what is cystitis in cats keep reading as I explain all about this painful condition. You’ll discover some of the more common causes as well as those less common. We’ll look at signs to watch for. Cats are notorious for hiding pain and discomfort, but there are tell tail signs your cat is suffering.
You’ll find out what to expect at the vets and if you need to prepare anything in advance. Plus, some of the treatments your kitty may be prescribed. Lastly, we’ll look at simple but effective ways you can prevent your cat from developing cystitis. Some are almost the same for humans.
What is cystitis?
Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder making it uncomfortable or painful when passing urine. It’s very common in human females, and cats can develop an almost identical form. Feline idiopathic cystitis has no obvious cause and almost identical to interstitial cystitis in women. Both can be hard to get rid of and once suffered, and recurring bouts are common.
In women, bacterial infections are a common cause, but in cats, stress is often seen as the main cause of cystitis. The point though is it’s one of the most uncomfortable conditions any person or animal can suffer from.
What causes cystitis in cats?
As previously mentioned, stress can play a big part in your cat developing cystitis. Moving home, decorating your house, or introducing a new pet into your household can all make your kitty stressed.
Indoor cats are more prone to stress due to lifestyle. Keeping your kitty active by providing toys can make a difference. Your cat may not show any outward signs of stress, but it can play a main part. Obesity is often seen in cats with cystitis, and can be avoided with proper diet and exercise. It’s much rarer for cats to get bladder infections than it is for humans, and may be a result of kidney disease, other chronic health problems or old age.
Struvite stones the rocky road to cystitis
Struvite crystals are so tiny you can’t see them with the naked eye, but they can merge together to form stones. If your cat has struvite stones it’s quite possible they may be irritating her bladder.
Often, a change in diet helps and in many cases prescription diets can dissolve them. You should never ignore struvite stones as they could lead to kidney failure especially in the elderly. Struvite crystals are much rarer in young cats and stress is almost always going to be the cause of your kitty’s cystitis. Struvite is made from a combination of phosphate, ammonium and magnesium.
Symptoms of cystitis in your cat
In exactly the same way women suffer from cystitis, your cat will have identical symptoms. Frequent trips to the litter tray with little or no urine being passed. Crying sounds as your poor kitty feels discomfort from trying to pee. Sometimes you may even notice spots of blood. Urinating outside the box in inappropriate places is a common sign.
If your cat spends much of her time outside, these symptoms may not be so obvious. However, if you keep her in at night you may notice frequent scratching around in the litter box. Your kitty may spend more time sleeping as she won’t be feeling too good. She may also go off her food, and generally look very sorry for herself.
It’s also possible your kitty may hide away from her human family, choosing to sleep under the bed rather than cuddle up on your lap. As I’ve previously mentioned, cats try hard to hide illness. This is a survival instinct protecting weak or injured animals from predators. Your cat knows you love her, but her natural instincts are very powerful.
Don’t be alarmed by the sight of blood spots
As scary as it seems, blood in the urine is commonly caused by irritation of the bladder lining. Your vet will do a series of tests to rule out other causes. Once the inflammation has eased, your cat should stop spotting blood.
What to expect on your visit to the vet
The night before the appointment collect a sample of your cat’s urine. This is very easy if you use non absorbent cat litter. Make sure you keep kitty indoors from early evening so she has to use the litter box. Clean the box thoroughly and sprinkle a small amount of litter inside. Don’t add too much as you’ll need to drain any urine into a sample bottle.
You can either get a bottle from your vet or the local pharmacy. They’re very cheap and it’s often a good idea to keep one in the house in case you need it. Your vet will want a sample so it’s always a good idea to be prepared. She or he will also do a blood test and possible ultrasound and maybe x-rays. As part of the examination your vet will weigh your cat and feel her belly area for anything unusual. This is routine so don’t worry!
What treatment can you expect your vet to prescribe?
If stress related cystitis is confirmed, pain relief will be given. This will help ease discomfort and relax bladder muscles. The medication should work quickly and your kitty will be feeling much better!
Diagnosis of a bacterial infection will mean a course of antibiotics. You must always make sure you finish the course even if your cat seems better.
However, cystitis resulting from a bacterial infection is quite rare. If you have a male cat that develops cystitis this is a lot more worrying and in some cases can be life threatening.
Keep your kitty hydrated!
I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but I can’t stress enough the importance of hydration. Cats are often reluctant to drink water, so feeding wet food will help your kitty stay hydrated.
Investing in a pet water fountain may be the best thing you do for your cat. They’re not expensive, and provide a constant flow of aerated water. Many cat parents often find their fur babies prefer to drink from a running tap or puddle in the garden, to the stagnant water left out for them.
Natural home remedies for cystitis in cats
Unfortunately, once your cat has suffered from cystitis she’ll probably get recurring bouts. It’s the same for us. Finding a simple solution that works can save many stressful trips to the vet. Though seeing your vet is important to rule out other causes, once you have a diagnosis you could try homeopathic remedies.
The following are all inexpensive and may help your kitty lead a more comfortable life. Always check with your vet first just to make sure they’re safe. Natural doesn’t always mean safe, and your vet will advise. Some way work better than others so experiment and stick with what works for your cat.
Cranberry, a miracle cure or fad?
Cranberies have long been known to ease cystitis in women, and you can now find them widely available in supplement form for your pets. Cranberry supplements can be effective in preventing certain bacteria from multiplying. However, as your cat is far more likely to have idiopathic cystitis, it may not be as effective.
These little red berries may lower the ph level in your pets bladder, but may not stop the irritation. Cranberry supplements seem far more effective in dogs and humans.
Apple cider vinegar a powerful force
Apple cider vinegar is totally amazing as it can treat so many different ailments. From acne to ear infections many people swear by it. However, not many realise it can be given to their pets as well.
If your cat has cystitis you try adding a drop to her water bowl, or even it it in wet cat food. Be very careful not to add too much. Never give your cat undiluted apple cider vinegar. It can also be used topically to treat flea infestations, skin irritations and ear mites. Always dilute well with clean water and apply gently with cotton wool.
Holistic health extension have a dry cat food product containing organic apple cider vinegar. It also contains turmeric which has anti inflammatory properties, as well as pure coconut oil. You could trying giving your cat a bowl of these next to her wet food. It’s advertised as being suitable for cats of all ages, and is based on a chicken and brown rice recipe.
I remember my vet advising me to give my cat chicken and rice when she was unwell. She had suffered from urinary problems in her senior years and it always encouraged her to eat.
Feliway for a stress free kitty
I have mentioned Feliway before in my posts as it’s such a good product. Not all cats respond to Feliway, but if they do, the effect can be remarkable.
My previous cat would get stressed easily. I bought a plugin diffuser, and it seemed to work, though she was still prone to cystitis. As stress is the number one cause of cystitis in cats you could always try Feliway. Sprays are also available, but in my experience not as effective as a diffuser.
Do prescription diets work?
If your vet diagnose idiopathic cystitis he may suggest a prescription diet. If you’re wondering if they really work. I can testify they do. I had a female cat who developed struvite crystals in her senior years.
This made cystitis a recurring problem. She wasn’t a cat that liked drinking water, so changing her diet was the only option. There are different brands you can buy, but my cat seemed to prefer Hills. Urinary care c/d is formulated to support urinary tract health.
Whether your cat’s cystitis is caused by struvite crystals or stress, c/d prescription diet is advertised as helping to alleviate the symptoms of both. In my cat’s case the food did dissolve struvite crystals and it certainly helped her pass urine easier. It may be worth discussing which diet is best for your cat.
It can often be a lot cheaper to buy prescription food online as many vetinary surgeries charge high prices. Check with your vet first and if you decide to try Hills urinary care c/d compare prices as the product will be the same. Changing your cat’s diet will be a long term commitment requiring regular orders so you want to get the best deal. It’s recommended that you introduce a new diet to your cat gradually.
Start off by mixing a little bit in with her normal food, and gradually increase the amount each day. Your cat’s digestion is sensitive and a sudden change in diet could upset her.
Help your kitty lead a more comfortable life
Cystitis, though mostly harmless can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Whereas we can drink pints of water to ease symptoms, cats can’t do that. In this post you’ve learned what is cystitis in cats, and signs to watch for. You’ve also discovered common causes and effective ways to treat it. These can include home remedies as well as those prescribed by your vet.
Though it’s likely to return once your cat has suffered a bout of cystitis, finding ways to manage it that works for your cat can make a big difference. Always get your cat looked at if you notice any symptoms. Though mostly harmless in females it could be life threatening in males if the bladder becomes blocked. I hope I’ve helped you understand more about cystitis in cats and how you can manage it. I’d love you share any experiences you’ve had with feline cystitis. Please feel free to leave any comments below.
Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂