Feline Cystitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Cystitis is a relatively common disease in cats. They may suffer from cystitis of infectious origin or what is known as interstitial or idiopathic cystitis. Treatment will be different depending on the type of cystitis.

It is very important that if we appreciate that our cat has a problem urinating, we quickly contact the veterinarian. A cystitis could become complicated to the point of obstructing the urinary tract or damaging the kidneys, putting the cat’s life at risk.


Symptoms of cystitis

It is important to go to the vet if you suspect that your cat has cystitis. The problem is that the symptoms it causes are not always easily detectable by caregivers . They can be confused with stress , jealousy or, in general, behavioral disturbances. The signs to watch out for are the following:

    • Difficulty urinating.
    • Pollakiuria, which consists of urinating on numerous occasions, but in small amounts. Sometimes just droplets.
    • Hematuria or presence of blood in the urine.
    • Urination out of the litter tray.
    • Meows of pain when urinating.
    • Insistent licking of the genital region.
    • The male’s penis can be visualized, while the female holds the vulva open.
    • The urethra can become blocked, making urination difficult or partially.
    • The cat can be aggressive.


  • Pain on palpation of the abdominal area or on handling.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Vomiting
  • If the cat cannot urinate throughout the day, the condition can worsen considerably, even becoming fatal. You have to take him to the vet.


How is cystitis diagnosed?

It is important to get a urine sample so that it can be studied . For this, the vet will ask us to collect the amount we can in a sterile glass sold in pharmacies. The problem is the difficulty it poses in this species. There is the option to disinfect the sandbox and leave it without sand.

This collects the urine deposited by the cat, but this is not always feasible. That is why it is more common for the veterinarian in the clinic to take the sample. To achieve this, you can press on the bladder and wait for the cat to emit some urine or, directly, resort to catheterization or cystocentesis. In the first case, a catheter is inserted through the urethra.

In the second, urine is extracted from the bladder by abdominal puncture. A culture can be done with the urine. In this way it is possible to diagnose cystitis detecting the presence of infection, bacteria, crystals, etc . If necessary, x-rays or ultrasounds may be performed. Infectious cystitis can be caused by bacteria, fungi, and even parasites.

Feline idiopathic cystitis or interstitial cystitis

If our cat suffers from recurrent cystitis, we may be facing a case of idiopathic cystitis. Its name is due to the fact that it is unknown what triggers it. It affects both males and females. Stress is considered to be involved.

Affected cats would be extremely sensitive to changes such as home renovations, the arrival of another cat, or even modifications to their food. The hypothesis being considered is that in these cases there is an increase in the permeability of the bladder.

This increases the contact with the toxic substances contained in the urine, which ends up causing inflammation and pain. This cystitis can be acute or chronic, as well as obstructive or non-obstructive. Before diagnosing it, it is ruled out that it is bacterial cystitis.

Treatment for cystitis

The realization of a culture allows to identify the bacteria involved in the infection. Thanks to this it is possible to administer an antibiotic to the cat that is known to be effective against it. Treatments of 1-2 weeks usually work for acute and simple cystitis .

In idiopathic cystitis, control of the environment is essential to reduce stress as much as possible. Calming pheromones can be used to decrease anxiety. Analgesics to relieve pain and anti-inflammatories are also prescribed, in addition to a proper diet.

The importance of diet

Sufficient water intake is essential for cats with idiopathic cystitis. In this way, the urine is more dilute, which reduces pain and inflammation. Providing several drinking fountains or resorting to water fountains for cats, help to encourage them to drink more . You can also increase the consumption of liquids by offering broths.

You have to separate the water from the food and it is better to use metal or ceramic waterers . In addition, it is recommended that these cats are given a specific wet veterinary diet. This is due to the fact that cats, by their nature, drink little, since they were made with liquids with the ingestion of prey.


If we feed them a dry food and they hardly drink, they will not consume enough water. Cats that present symptoms due to the presence of crystals in the urine will also benefit from a special diet. Some of these stones break down or stop forming by consuming a food that keeps the urine at a certain pH.



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