Stress Cystitis in Cats

Last Updated on September 18, 2020

It is no secret that stress can cause health complications within the body. For cats who are more “stress-sensitive”, they can be prone to things like Feline Idiopathic Cystitis. We will cover what it is, how it is diagnosed, what is done to treat it, and what you can do at home.

What is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis?

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (or FIC for short) is the medical term for a cat who is showing signs of bladder inflammation. This kind of inflammation is sometimes caused by a bacterial infection in the urinary tract or bladder itself but is more commonly caused by stress. FIC comes on in episodes and once a cat has had it once time, their chances of getting it again are greatly increased.

How is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis Diagnosed?

Cats who show common symptoms are often required to get a urinalysis. Your vet will often require you to use a Kit 4 Cat urine sample collection kit to get a fresh, untampered urine sample. This test will look for signs of inflammation, crystals, stones, and growths within the urinary tract to rule out other health complications and confirm FIC.

Symptoms of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • Peeing outside the litter box on soft surfaces (rugs, towels, clothing)
  • Crying/vocalizing pain while using the litter box
  • Sign of pain in the abdomen area
  • Constipation
  • Frequently licking penis and/or anus
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hiding, not wanting to be social
Only A Vet Can Properly Diagnose Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

If you suspect your cat to have FIC, it is important to take them in for proper testing as FIC also shares common symptoms with other medical issues that can be deadly.

How is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis Treated?

Unfortunately, treatment for FIC can be a bit complicated. Once your vet is sure your cat does have it and there are no signs of an infection, treatment will be based on stress-reduction practices, diet changes, and general mental well being of your feline as a preventative measure. A standard antibiotic may be prescribed even if there are no signs of an infection as a preventative measure. An FIC episode will last a week on average but can last up to two weeks. If after two weeks your cat has not shown signs of improvement, further testing may be required.

What You Can Do At Home

If your cat has been diagnosed with Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, there are some things you can do at home to help speed up your cat’s recovery and help to prevent another episode from occurring. The safest and most effective ways to help your cat includes stress reduction, diet changes to ensure proper hydration, and focusing on your kitty’s mental health.

Stress Reduction

The major cause of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is down to stress. A cat who is under a lot of stress might not even show signs of it other than medical issues arising such as FIC. It is important to ensure your cat’s stress levels are reduced. This can be done by more frequent litter box cleaning (adding another box if it is a multi-cat home), ensuring they have a quiet place to rest and be away from other household pets, offering treats and food they enjoy, allowing protected access to the outdoors, and resolving stress issues between other cats, pets, children, or adults in the house. Investing in some Feliway diffusers is a great way to help relax your cat and other cats in your home naturally and safely.

Diet Changes

Hydration is an important key factor in recovering from FIC and preventing further episodes. If your cat is on a dry only diet, you must switch them to a wet diet to ensure they are getting enough liquid daily. Most cats do not drink water on a regular basis because, in the wild, a lot of their hydration comes from their food. Even mild dehydration can lead to more episodes of FIC as well as other health complications. Ensure they also have clean water available at all times and encourage more drinking by flavoring the water or offering them bone broth as a supplemental source of liquid.

Mental Health

Stimulating your cat through play will go a long way to keep them healthy and happy. Ensuring they have plenty of toys, things to climb, and sources of entertainment will keep their stress levels down by a huge margin. Make sure to set time aside daily to give them one on one affection as well as playtime. Some cats can become jealous so this is even more important if your FIC kitty is prone to jealousy in a multi-cat home.

Natural Remedies for Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Natural remedies as a means to speed up recovery and help prevent another FIC episode can work wonders for your cat. It is not ideal for a cat to be put on antibiotics all the time, especially if they are a kitten or senior cat as it can compromise the immune system and put unnecessary stress on the body’s ability to function. The use of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are both wonderful natural remedies for FIC.

Virgin Coconut Oil

This is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammation oil agent that will not only help prevent infections but also help to deal with issues such as hairballs, constipation, and parasites. Virgin coconut oil is also said to reduce cognitive decline for senior cats as well. Be sure to only buy virgin coconut oil that is organic and non-GMO!

You can apply virgin coconut oil to your cat’s fur and allow them to clean it, add small amounts to their food or if they enjoy it, put out a spoon’s worth in a glass bowl and allow them to eat it when and as they please. If they are quick to finish it this way, offer it every 2 or 3 days, about a tablespoon’s worth at a time.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This is a great tonic for bladder, kidney, and liver health and will reduce the inflammation of the bladder as well as clear up any blockages. Not many cats appreciate the flavor so you will need to find which method of administration works best for you and your kitty. Be sure to use apple cider vinegar with the mother in it!

If you want to do it like a standard liquid medication, dilute a mixture of 50/50 apple cider vinegar and water. Give 2ml to 3ml of this mixture to your cat using a syringe being sure not to shoot it directly down the throat. This can be given to your cat two times a day for 3 days. Your cat will likely spit some of it out and may foam at the mouth a bit. Be sure to offer clean water and a treat after.

Other methods of administration include adding 1/4th of a teaspoon to their water dish daily as an on-going preventive measure, applying a 50/50 dilution of apple cider vinegar and water to their paws twice daily, or mixing 1/4th teaspoon directly to their meals twice a day.

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

A rather new treatment to emerge for cats is MSM or “Methylsulfonylmethane”. This is essentially just the natural compound of sulfur. It is considered an effective supplement for reducing inflammation and recent studies suggest it can help cats who have chronic cystitis. It is considered to be virtually safe, even in high doses with no major side effects.

Dosage is fairly simple. The average adult cat who weighs 8 to 14 pounds should have roughly 500mg a day. You will want to start off with 100mg and work your way up to avoid any digestive discomfort. You can read more about MSM here: Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for Cats. We recomend using the NOW Supplements MSM capsules as it is a safe and trusted brand we have used for ourselves and our pets for years.

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