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Understanding and Treating Cystitis in Cats: Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options

Understanding Cystitis in Cats

As a cat owner, you may have heard of the term cystitis. Cystitis is a common condition that affects cats of all ages, but is more commonly seen in middle-aged to older cats.

Cystitis can be a painful and uncomfortable condition, but with proper care and treatment, most cats can recover. In this article, we will discuss the different types of cystitis, causes, and symptoms of cystitis in cats, and how it can be diagnosed.

Types of Cystitis:

There are three main types of cystitis that cats can suffer from: sterile cystitis, urinary tract infection (UTI), and feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). Sterile Cystitis: This type of cystitis is the most common in cats.

It is also known as sterile bladder inflammation and is caused by the inflammation of the bladder with no bacterial infection. This type of cystitis is not caused by any specific disease and is more common in stressed cats.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): This type of cystitis is caused by a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. UTI is less common in cats than in dogs, but cats can develop it from time to time.

This type of cystitis is more seen in older cats and is more common in females than males. Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC): This type of cystitis is not well understood, and it is characterized by inflammation of the bladder and urethra.

It is known as idiopathic cystitis because its cause is uncertain. This type of cystitis is commonly seen in male cats, but females can also suffer from it.

Causes of Cystitis:

The causes of cystitis in cats can be different depending on the type of cystitis. The causes can include the following:

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis: As mentioned earlier, the cause of FIC is unknown, but it is believed that factors such as stress, obesity, pedigree breeds, and other environmental factors can contribute to it.

Bacterial Infection: Bacteria can infect the urinary tract and bladder causing inflammation and discomfort in cats. This type of cystitis can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

Bladder Stones: Bladder stones can form in the bladder, irritating it and causing inflammation and pain. They can sometimes be felt during a physical examination by a veterinarian.

Urethral Plugs: Urethral plugs are common in male cats, and they can cause a urinary blockage leading to inflammation and discomfort. Stress: Stress-related FIC is common in cats, and it can be triggered by changes in the living environment, loud noises, lack of exercise, and other environmental factors.

Symptoms of Cystitis:

Cats can show different symptoms when suffering from cystitis, and they could serve as an indicator for prompt veterinary attention. Below are the symptoms that can appear:

Urination outside the litter box: When your cat starts to urinate outside the litter box, it is a sign that something is not quite right.

Straining to Urinate: A cat may strain to urinate due to discomfort caused by inflammation or other conditions such as blockage caused by urethral plugs. Change in Urine frequency: Frequent urination or difficulty starting to urinate are possible signs of cystitis.

Vocalizing While Urinating: Cats suffering from cystitis may vocalize while urinating, which could indicate pain. Change in behavior: If your cat suddenly becomes nervous, restless, or aggressive, it is worth consulting with your veterinarian.

Changes in behavior can be an indication of underlying health conditions. Frequent Licking of the Genital Area: Cats with cystitis may lick their genitals excessively due to irritation and pain, which suggests cystitis could be the root cause.

Diagnosing Cystitis:

The diagnosis of cystitis is made by a veterinarian who will conduct a physical examination of the cat and collect a urine sample. In some cases, additional tests may be needed, such as blood work, ultrasound, or x-rays.

Urine Sample Collection: The most common method of collecting a urine sample is by cystocentesis, which involves using a syringe to draw urine directly from the bladder. But, you can also collect a sample at home using a non-absorbent litter and a clean container.

Additional Testing: Bloodwork, ultrasound, and x-rays may be necessary to diagnose cystitis. Conclusion:

Cystitis is a painful condition that can be uncomfortable for cats.

As a cat owner, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and causes of cystitis, and to seek help promptly if you suspect your cat might be suffering from it. Knowing about the different types of cystitis is vital in identifying the cause and potential treatment options.

Remember, early detection and treatment may help alleviate your cat’s discomfort and prevent recurrence.

Treating Cystitis in Cats

Cystitis is a common condition that can cause discomfort and pain in cats. Though it can’t always be prevented, there are ways to manage and treat the condition.

In this article, we will discuss the different treatment options for cystitis in cats, including surgical interventions, health management, medications, and home remedies. Surgical Interventions:

In more severe cases of cystitis, a surgical intervention may be recommended by a veterinarian to remove bladder stones or urethral plugs.

These procedures can help relieve the pain and inflammation caused by cystitis. Lifelong Management:

Once a cat has been diagnosed with cystitis, it is important to manage their health and lifestyle to prevent future occurrences.

Some lifelong management strategies that may help reduce the incidence of cystitis include:

Increased Water Intake: Encourage your cat to drink more water by providing a clean and fresh water source daily. You can also consider adding a water fountain to your cat’s living space to encourage them to drink more.

Prescription Diets: Feeding your cat a high-quality prescription diet that is low in magnesium and ash content can help prevent and manage cystitis. Increased Enrichment: Environmental enrichment such as cat trees, scratching posts, toys, and window perches can give your cat more stimulation and help reduce stress.

Weight Loss: Overweight cats are more prone to developing cystitis, and managing your cat’s weight through controlled feeding and exercise can help prevent the condition. Modification of Household: Reducing household stress by minimizing loud noises and conflicts between cats can help manage cystitis.

Increased Litter Boxes: Increase the number of litter boxes to one extra litter box then the number of cats occupying the household. Daily Litter Box Cleaning: Clean the litter box at least once per day, if not more often.


Medications can provide relief from the pain and inflammation associated with cystitis. Some of the medications that are commonly prescribed by veterinarians include:

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation for cats with cystitis.

Pain Medications: Pain relievers like tramadol and gabapentin can help alleviate discomfort caused by cystitis. Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian to treat bacterial infections that could be causing cystitis.

Culture and sensitivity testing of the urine before administering the medication may be necessary. Behavioral Medications: Some cats with cystitis may benefit from behavioral medications that can help manage stress.

Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan (PSGAGs): PSGAGs contains glucosamine-like substances that help protect the bladder lining and promote healing. Home Remedies:

Some cat owners may prefer to use home remedies to manage cystitis.

Though they may not always be as effective as prescription medications, they can still provide some relief. Some home remedies that people use to manage cystitis in cats include:

High-Quality Canned Food Diet: A diet consisting of high-quality canned cat food can help promote hydration and reduce the risk of cystitis.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in cats with cystitis. Pheromone Therapy: Feline pheromones, such as Feliway, can help reduce stress and promote a calm environment for cats.

Herbal therapies: Using herbs such as marshmallow, dandelion root or corn silk as a natural diuretic may help flush bacteria out of the system. Cost and Prevention:

The cost of treating cystitis in cats can vary widely based on the severity of the condition, the location, and the recommended course of treatment.

A veterinary clinic visit for examination, testing, and medication can range from $100 to several thousand dollars. Surgical intervention can also add to the cost.

There are ways to prevent cystitis from occurring in cats. Some of the best preventative methods include feeding your cat a high-quality canned food diet, increasing environmental enrichment, promoting a healthy weight, preventing stress, and treating any fighting between cats.


Cystitis in cats can be a painful and uncomfortable condition, but there are several ways to manage and treat it. With lifelong management, medications, surgical interventions, and home remedies, cats with cystitis can find relief and reduce recurrence of this uncomfortable condition.

Engaging the advice of a veterinarian to diagnose and tailor a treatment plan will provide the best outcome for your cat.

Related Conditions

Cats can suffer from various urinary conditions, some of which share similar symptoms with cystitis. Understanding these conditions and their symptoms is crucial in proper diagnosis and treatment.

In this article, we will discuss some of the commonly related conditions to cystitis in cats, including nocturia, polyuria/polydipsia (PU/PD), urethral obstruction, urinary tract infection (UTI), and kidney disease. Nocturia:

Nocturia is a medical term for frequent urination at night.

In cats, this condition may be an indicator of an underlying health condition, including cystitis. Nocturia can also be caused by neurological disease, kidney disease, or metabolic disorders.

Other symptoms that may indicate nocturia in cats include excessive thirst and urine output during the day, straining to urinate, and changes in urine color or smell. Treatment options for nocturia aim to manage the underlying health condition responsible for the symptoms.


Polyuria/polydipsia (PU/PD) is a common condition in cats that involves increased urination and drinking water. PU/PD can be a result of various underlying conditions, including cystitis or kidney disease.

Cats with PU/PD may show signs of dehydration, weigh loss, and poor coat condition. Diagnosis involves evaluating the cat’s medical history, a physical exam and bloodwork, urine testing, and possible imaging.

Treatment interventions may include prescription of antibiotics, fluid therapy to correct dehydration, and management of underlying diseases. Urethral Obstruction:

Male cats are more prone to urethral obstruction than female cats.

Urethral obstruction may sometimes be caused by bladder stones or urethral plugs, which can occur from metabolic imbalances, injury, or infections. Obstruction of urine flow can become life-threatening if left untreated, causing severe discomfort and damage to the bladder, kidneys, and urinary tract.

Symptoms of urethral obstruction in cats include discomfort, straining unsuccessfully to urinate, vocalization, and excessive grooming of genitalia. Treatment may require surgical intervention or catheterization to remove blockage, and subsequent management of underlying causes to prevent future obstructions.

Urinary Tract Infection:

Urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect cats of any age, but they are more commonly seen in female cats. UTI’s can be caused by bacteria or viruses in the urinary tract that cause inflammation and irritation of the bladder lining.

Antibiotics and other medications are commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat UTI. Symptoms of UTI in cats may include frequent urination, straining to urinate, strong-smelling, discolored urine, lethargy, and discomfort.

Kidney Disease:

Kidney disease is a common condition in older cats, and it can cause urinary symptoms such as increased urination, decreased appetite, excessive thirst, and weakness. Kidney disease results from an eventual failure of the kidney function to remove toxins from the bloodstream.

Kidney disease can be treated with medications, fluids therapy, and dietary changes prescribed by a veterinarian. Regular monitoring of kidney function through bloodwork and urine analysis is necessary to prevent worsening of the condition.

Preventive measures against kidney disease include keeping cats hydrated, feeding high-quality food, and managing underlying illnesses to promote healthy kidney function. Conclusion:

Understanding related conditions to cystitis in cats is essential in providing prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms such as frequent urination, nocturia, painful urination, and changes in mindset should always warrant visiting a veterinarian. With proper management and care in place in the form of medications, environmental enrichment, dietary changes, and stress reduction, cats suffering from cystitis, and related conditions can enjoy happy, healthy lifestyles.

Cystitis and related conditions can be uncomfortable and painful for cats, but prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help reduce symptoms. The symptoms of cystitis include frequent urination, blood in the urine, and straining to urinate.

Management of cystitis involves lifelong care that includes increased water intake, prescription diets, medication, and environmental enrichment. Other urinary conditions in cats, such as nocturia, polyuria/polydipsia, urethral obstruction, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease, require similar diagnostic evaluations and treatments.

Seeking veterinary care for cats showing any of these symptoms is essential to obtain proper treatment and manage their overall health for a better quality of life.

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