Cystitis in Cats and Dogs
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by stress but can lead to an infection if bacteria build up. It is also known as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) Infection).
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD) are conditions that affect a cat’s urinary tract/bladder. These include UTIs, Cystitis.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) is infection of the bladder, usually caused by bacteria. Check out our page on UTIs in cats and dogs for more information.
While they are commonly confused and lumped together as symptoms are similar, UTIs are more common in female dogs and older cats. At the same time, Cystitis is more common in cats, and where this page is more targeted to cats, your dogs may also develop cystitis, so all information is relevant. Both are a condition that affects the lower urinary tract, resulting in pain, discomfort and frequent and bloody urination.
What causes Cystitis?
Cystitis is inflammation, not an infection of the bladder. It develops in the lower urinary tract (bladder), not the kidneys.
Since it is more common in cats than dogs, several things contribute to a cat developing cystitis – urine ph, urine concentration, the amount of time it stays in the bladder, and the number of minerals in the urine - phosphorus and magnesium.
The inflammation is usually caused by crystals that form in the urine. These tiny crystals form when there is a change in the environment of the bladder and irritate the bladder wall. Because of this irritation, there is often blood in the urine.
A healthy cat’s urine is quite acidic, with a ph of 6.0 to 6.5. The acidity in the urine breaks down the crystals and stops them from forming. Different factors are identified as causing the urine to turn alkaline, which encourages crystal formation.
Stress and environmental issues can be a factor; cats are solitary animals and can find living with humans, dogs, and even cats quite stressful. They will usually eat and do their movements in private. However, when put in a situation where they have to share litter boxes, be bullied by another cat, or eat out of a bowl beside other cats, it can put the animal under stress. This stress can create changes in the nerves that connect to the bladder wall; this, in turn, causes pain and inflammation in the bladder and turns the urine alkaline.
Low water intake is more common in cats on dry food diets, they don’t drink enough fluids, and the urine becomes concentrated and alkaline. This is where diet plays a big part in preventing UTIs, as raw meat makes acidic urine, and dry food – grains make alkaline urine.
Cats won’t drink more fluids than they have to; raw meat will have a high volume of water keeping the cat’s fluids volumes up. A cat on a dry food diet will be in a constant state of dehydration which puts stress on the kidneys.
The amount of time the urine stays in the bladder can lead to inflammation of the bladder as well as other problems such as overstretching. This can be caused by being bullied, not being let pass to go outside, cats that are shut indoors without access to litter boxes, and holding on too long.
The primary type of crystal found in the urine is struvite. They are made up of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate. Most crystals can be dissolved naturally in the cat’s urine if the ph is correct and there are good concentration levels. However, if too many crystals are produced, they can clump together and make bladder stones. After the first episode, the cat will become prone to recurring Cystitis, primarily if the causing factors are not addressed.
Overweight indoor cats are more prone to Cystitis due to their state of inactivity. Cats in the wild are less likely to be found with struvite crystals in their urine. They eat raw meat diets and have a high level of exercise.
If male cats develop too many crystals, they can travel up the urethra and cause an obstruction. This is a severe condition and needs immediate veterinarian help, as it can overextend and rupture the bladder, causing kidney failure. Also, the toxins that are in the urine can poison the body from being retained for too long. This is more common in male cats as the urethra is thin and narrow going through the penis, whereas in female cats, it tends to be larger and does not block as easily.
What are the signs and symptoms of Cystitis?
Your cat may present with some or all of the following symptoms
- Straining to pass urine
- More frequent urination – pollakiuria (they may only pass a few drops at a time)
- Painful to urinate – dysuria
- Inability to urinate esp in males (MEDICAL EMERGENCY)
- Blood in urination – haematuria, which could look like clots or pink urine
- Urinating in strange places around the house
- Foul-smelling urine (your pet any smell like urine)
- Overgrooming of the genital area, fur loss
- Lethargic or depressed
- Aggressive/grumpy (not being themselves)
- Lack of appetite (off their food)
What can you do to help?
Increase fluids – add extra water to food, and always have fresh water available for your cat to drink. Drinking fountains can help with this.
Changing your pet’s diet from dry to wet, or at least reducing the amount of dry food they eat. More raw meat in the diet will make the urine more acidic, which will help dissolve crystals.
Decrease stress on your cat. Provide more litter trays in different areas around the house. Cat love to be up high. They feel safe and secure, so beds and litter boxes on cupboards or bookcases will help.
What can Natural Pet do to help?
In the Tagiwig range, our Uri-Tone remedy can help support a cat or dog suffering from urinary tract infections and Cystitis. It helps to reduce inflammation, fight infection and break down cystals.
To reduce stress we have our Drama Queen remedy for stress, anxiety and emotional upset.
We also offer a consultation service, where we can develop a treatment plan individualised for your animal. We can do this via phone or zoom as we help pets in NZ and worldwide.
Posted: Thursday 21 July 2022