Have you noticed your cat in the litter box more than normal during these holiday seasons? It’s a common complaint that we see at Guthrie Pet Hospital. Many people think that their cat has a urinary tract infection, but they actually have feline interstitial cystitis. This week, Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss feline cystitis and clear up many misunderstandings.
Feline Cystitis symptoms:
- Straining to urinate
- Small amounts of urine frequently
- Urination outside the litter box
- Bloody urine
- Loss of appetite
Cats at risk:
- Indoor only
- Nervous or anxious personalities
- Primarily dry diet
- Multi-cat households
Feline interstitial cystitis is not a urinary bladder problem but a nervous system problem. Cats with feline cystitis have larger sensory neurons which release a flood of stress hormones into the body and cause the cat to feel more pain than normal and the urinary bladder is the target organ.
Feline cystitis is a self-limiting disease, and many cats have symptoms that come and go depending on their environmental stress. This means that your cat’s symptoms will go away without any treatment at all. Dr. Coffin says that veterinarians used to prescribe anti-inflammatories and antibiotics before we understand the true cause of the disease. However, that doesn’t mean we should do nothing and just let the cat suffer.
Treatment for feline cystitis:
- Environmental modification to reduce any stressors:
- Allow your indoor cats to hunt for their food
- Prevent bullying from other cats in the household
- Keep litter boxes in quiet areas away from washers & dryers
- Minimize holiday changes within your home
- 1 litter box/cat + 1 additional litter box
- Diet changes:
- Add canned food
- Prescription diet Royal Canin Calm or Urinary + Calm can help reduce your cat’s anxiety
- Pain medication for acute flare-ups
- Anti-anxiety medication
- Feliway pheromone therapy
With the help of your veterinarian, you can relieve your cat’s stress and prevent future episodes of feline cystitis.