Navigate / search

Bladder problems in cats common, but not well understood

In the May issue, we talked about bladder pain and blood in the urine for cats. In most cases, there is no infection and it’s called Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), or Feline Sterile Idiopathic Cystitis. The triggering causes for idiopathic cystitis are not fully understood. “Idiopathic” is a catch all word, meaning … we do not know!

However, stress definitely seems to be the biggest trigger. Allergy is most probably another one. A word of caution here, FIC is not the only thing that happens to a cat’s bladder. There are other issues like crystal formations, blockage (mainly in male cats), and on rare occasions, urinary tract infections (UTI). Work closely with your vet if your cat is having problems.

Now back to my old cat Rabi! Once I learned the pattern for his bladder inflammation – every time I was ready to pack for a trip – I would start him on an anti-anxiety medication, and it worked! I also used one or two doses of anti-inflammatory pain medication.

These are my suggestions if your poor cat suffers from chronic FIC:

Water, water, and more water! If you are having problems switching to wet food, check out Dr. Lisa Pierson’s website, www.catinfo.org. Goat milk is an excellent choice to encourage your cat to take in extra water and nutrients. Be attentive to their stool when adding new foods.

Recognize the patterns so that you can avoid the triggers. It could be seasonal, or it could be a specific stressor, like going on a holiday or company coming for a holiday!

Avoid urine acidifiers like methigel. A too low urine pH (acidic) may be irritating to an already unhappy bladder wall.

Do an online search for “multimodal environmental modification” for cats. The basic idea is to enrich the environment for indoor cats and reduce stress. Providing them with toys, a window perch, scratching posts, occasionally rotating through food to keep things interesting, engaging your cat in play, etc.

Talk to your vet about having a bit of anti-anxiety meds and pain meds handy at home.

Do not abruptly change cat litter and have enough in the house. The general rule is number of cats +1 litter boxes. Clean them every day. We enjoy clean toilets, don’t we?

In stubborn cases, a low-allergy diet, novel protein diet or elimination diet is worth a try, but not an easy task to undertake. Consult with your veterinarian.

For herbally inclined folks, this summer, save your organic yellow corn silks in the freezer. You can make tea with it for your kitty. Corn silk helps soothe the bladder wall.

The bottom line is to take heart – most of these cases respond well to medical treatments and additional environmental management.

Goutam Mukherjee (Dr. G), DVM, MS, PhD., has been a veterinarian for more than 30 years. He owns High Falls Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Crossville. Email questions of general interest to drg.vet@gmail.com.