Cystitis is a common condition among cats of any age, so cat owners might have to deal with this medical issue at some point over the course of their cat’s life. Some cats go their entire lives without developing cystitis, while others experience bouts of cystitis several times over their lifetimes.

The good news is that this condition rarely progresses to become a serious health concern. Even so, it’s helpful for cat owners to understand what cystitis is, how to identify it, and how this condition can be treated. Here’s an overview of cystitis in cats, and what you need to know to support your cat’s health and recovery.

What is Cystitis in Cats?

Cystitis is a broad term used to describe inflammation in the bladder. Also known as feline idiopathic cystitis, this condition can occur at any time in a cat’s life, although it is more common in younger cats. Most cases remain mild and are marked primarily by discomfort that goes away as the inflammation subsides. Nevertheless, cat owners that suspect cystitis want to keep a watchful on their pets to see if additional symptoms or complications develop.

The exact cause of cystitis in cats isn’t known, but it’s believed that high stress levels can be a risk factor for developing inflammation. In less common cases, a defective bladder lining or other abnormalities can make cystitis more likely to develop.

Symptoms of Cystitis in Cats

Discomfort can be difficult to identify based on an eye test alone. But other symptoms may be used to determine if cystitis is likely, and if your cat needs a visit to the vet. These symptoms may include:

  • The presence of blood in cat urine
  • Only producing urine in small amounts
  • Excessive urination in cats
  • Licking in the genital region
  • Strange stances or squatting positions when urinating, which may be signs of the cat straining to pee
  • Urinating in unusual places in the home

If these symptoms are present, it’s possible cystitis has developed. While the presence of symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean your cat has cystitis, you may want to consult your veterinarian—especially because those symptoms may be from a different underlying health condition, such as a urinary tract infection or a urinary obstruction in the cat, which could pose a greater risk to your pet’s health.

Cystitis in Cats: How Long Does it Last?

Most cases of cystitis subside on their own within five to 10 days. If cystitis persists for longer or if symptoms worsen over time, stay in touch with your vet to make sure you know when to seek in-person care.

Also consider your cat’s health history, and any past cases of cystitis, when evaluating progression and recovery. Some cats may experience symptoms for long periods of time without developing any complications. In other cases, prolonged cystitis and the presence of symptoms can mask the development of more serious issues that require medical intervention.

Cat Cystitis Treatment and Prevention

In most cases, cystitis can be treated and alleviated with anti-inflammatory medication, although some cats will recover without the need of any medical intervention. Your vet may also encourage you to identify potential stressors exacerbating the inflammation, and to reduce or eliminate your cat’s exposure to these stressors in recovery and after cystitis has passed.

You can help your cat avoid reoccurrences of cystitis by taking preventative measures that eliminate possible triggers and risk factors. Your vet may recommend pheromone sprays and/or the addition of extra water bowls in the house to encourage proper hydration. Some cats may also respond well to a water fountain as their water source, rather than a standing bowl, and this increased water intake can reduce the risk of inflammation in the future.

Stress levels can be managed by providing a safe, comfortable space in the home, including access to multiple hiding places where cats can retreat during periods of high stress. Make sure these hiding places are inaccessible to children or dogs, which may be prime sources of stress for some cats.

In cases where cats experience multiple cases of cystitis, your vet may suggest dietary supplements designed to support health and wellness in ways that mitigate the risk of inflammation. Talk to your vet to develop a personalized prevention plan that best serves your cat’s health.

Even in minor cases of cystitis, no cat owner wants to see their feline friend in discomfort. Keep a close eye on their behaviour and consult your vet to find ways to offer soothing support and inflammation relief as they recover. With close attention from their owner, most cats will be back to normal in no time.

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