Cystitis in Cats

"Cystitis in cats refers to inflammation of the urinary bladder. The cat urinary bladder temporarily stores urine and when enough urine volume is gathered, it then passes it through the urethra for urination outside of the body. Cat cystitis can be caused by a number of factors including bacterial infections, tumors, cat bladder stones, and injury etc. Inflammation in the cat bladder is mainly associated with “feline lower urinary tract Disease” (FLUTD), in which bacterial agents either play a primary or secondary role. Feline cystitis is characterized by pain during urination, difficult and frequent urination, but in a reduced volume. The cat may ignore litter box training and urinate in unusual places. Licking genitals, stress and rough skin due to a lack of self grooming and severe abdominal pain can be some other symptoms for cystitis in cats. Diagnosis requires a clinical examination along with urinalysis. Treatment depends upon confirmation of the particular cause(s). Specific treatment is with the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. To address symptoms, a cat may be offered pain killers and some supplements as well. A prescription diet is usually required if diet is the cause of any feline bladder stones."

Causes of Cystitis in Cats:

The exact cause of cat cystitis cannot be determined, as inflammation may occur for various reasons. However, bacterial infections are considered to be the most common cause of feline cystitis. Bacterial species in a cat litter box are the most common miscreants. The bacteria enters from outside the body through the urethra, the tube that normally carries urine outside of the body. These bacterial agents enter into the urinary tract and reaches up to the cat bladder, where they get embedded in epithelium (outer layer) of the bladder walls which causes damage to cells, thus causing inflammation and infection.

Feline bladder obstructions can be due to tumors, bladder stones or due to pelvic stress. If the females’ urine becomes stagnant in the bladder and does not empty properly, bacteria may replicate in this medium, which leads to infection. Tumors, injuries and cat bladder stones may also cause damage to the epithelial cells, thus leaving the urinary walls inflamed. It should also be noted that secondary bacterial infections are common in such cases.

Thus, in any case of cystitis in cats, bacteria are the most common cause of condition, either primary which originates in the bladder or is secondary which means the infection spread from other parts of the body.

Symptoms of Cystitis in Cats:

Females are more susceptible to cystitis as compared to males, due to the shorter distance between the external genitalia and the bladder. Common symptoms associated with cystitis cats may be difficulty during urination; because of that cats may experience severe intolerable pain while urinating. As a result, cats ignore litter box training and urinate in a reduced volume in unusual places in the house, especially in showers and on the floors. Severe pain during urination is another sign and cats may lay and urinate in showers or on the floor due to the coolness of these particular places, which helps to reduce pain.

In severe cystitis, cats will stop self grooming; therefore the coat will look rough, pale and and the cat will look ill. Affected cats appear stressed and uncomfortable, and may respond aggressively if they are not handled properly.

Diagnosis of Cystitis in Cats:

Clinical representation of disease can be confirmed by taking a cat's history and through physical examination. For effective treatment, urinalysis is required. Urinalysis is a complete examination of a urine sample for the determination of its pH value, consistency, appearance, content and biochemical profile.

Additional tests, radiography and sometimes biopsy and/or endoscopy may be required for confirmation of any tumors, injury or bladder or urinary tract blockage.

Treatment of Cystitis in Cats:

Treatment of cat cystitis may involve antibiotic therapy. Amoxicillin is considered to be the drug of choice for feline bladder cystitis; it may be used for 1 – 2 weeks, which usually resolves the condition. In case, the cystitis occurred due to resistant bacteria, therapy may be continued for another 2 weeks.

Monitoring of progress is necessary, and in many cases even advanced diagnostic approaches can fail to confirm an exact cause, therefore if the affected cat does not show any improvement or if the condition becomes worse, then the exact cause should be probed further, and the case should be immediately referred to a veterinary specialist, preferably an urologist.

Antibiotics can be given in combination of anti-inflammatory drugs, which can speed up recovery. A cat should show positive improvement in a week’s time.

Supportive therapy by adding B12 complex to meals and offering more clean and hygienic water to drink is a necessary step during treatment. Natural remedies such as UTI-Free Formula could also provide added urinary support, such as contributing to normal urine ph, which will help to prevent future problems and possibly speed healing.


The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Washington State Uinversity College of Veterinary Medicine