Common Feline Bladder Problem Treated with Stress Relief

March 31, 2014 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

Among the feline lower urinary tract diseases, the most common is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). Cystitis meaning inflammation of the bladder, and idiopathic meaning of unknown origin. The symptoms of FIC are much the same as the symptoms of an infection or bladder stone: straining to urinate, urinating in usual places, licking the urinary opening due to pain, or bloody urine. The difference is that with FIC, after all the testing, there are no signs of blockage, anatomical problems, or bacterial infection.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association finds that a few, easy changes in the home environment make a big difference. The combination of feeding at the same time every day, keeping the litter box in the same location, and regular playtime reduced FIC symptoms 75 to 80%. One of the leading theories is that FIC is caused by stress. Research suggests that cats with FIC often have major physical stress indicators (for example: increased tyrosine hydrolase in the brain, increased noradrenaline in the blood, altered cortisol levels, etc.). The recent study adds to the credibility of the stress theory. If your cat has experienced feline idiopathic cystitis in the past, be aware that recurrence is about 50%. So implementing these steps at home may help prevent future flare ups.

Despite that fact that enriching the home environment may control symptoms and prevent recurrence, cats exhibiting the symptoms shown above should be scheduled for a veterinary examination (and in some cases seen on emergency). Because the symptoms of IFC are the same as other, more serious health problems, an examination is warranted. When the diagnosis is FIC, veterinary treatment is highly individualized. In addition to advice on environmental changes at home, treatment may include pain relief, anti-inflamatories, relaxants, recommendations for diet changes, or other measures.

Source: Stella J, Lord L, Buffington T. Sickness behaviors in response to unusual external events in healthy cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 238(1):67-73.

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