Feline Idiopathic Cystitis and your cat

cat looking in camera

FIC can be an extremely painful condition

Does your cat:

  • urinate more than usual
  • strain in the litter box?
  • eliminate in unusual places (piles of clothes, laundry baskets, closets, bath tubs, etc)?
  • over groom their hind end or belly?
  • have blood in their urine?
  • have an inability to urinate?

Your cat may be suffering from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) but in a frustratingly large number of cases there does not seem to be a cause and is referred to as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) which can be a very painful condition. In studies, FIC behaves like a similar disease in humans called interstitial cystisis. In both conditions it can be difficult to manage/maintain.

cat straining to pee in litter box

straining to urinate is one symptom of FIC and should always be seen by your veterinarian

There are several ways animals remove toxins that build up in their bodies. One way is through urine which is made up of water, minerals and other organic/inorganic compounds. Your cat may run into issues if their urine has become too concentrated, there is a mineral build up, or in rare cases they have an infection.

FIC has been the focus of many studies; however little is known to the cause especially in young cats. It is believed that stress is a big factor in the cause and recurrence of this condition.

Did you know?

  • The average cat with FIC is 4 years of age and that in most cases recurrences decrease as the cat ages.
black cat playing

environmental enrichment — such as toys — is just one part of a multi-approach treatment plan

The good news is that there are many options for management and prevention which can decrease the recurrence and duration of episodes in most cases. The first step is always to bring your cat to a trusted veterinarian to rule out specific medical conditions.

An FIC diagnosis is a disease of exclusions: this means that by ruling out other known urinary conditions you are left with FIC. Blood-work, urinalysis and cultures, x-rays, and even ultrasound can be used to exclude alternate diseases.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is created by unknown causes; however, conditions such as bladder nerve inflammation, bladder lining defects, increased stress, and abnormal stress hormone production have all been observed within FIC cats.

Once a physical condition has been ruled out, your veterinarian can tailor a multi-faceted approach which can include nutrition, environment, and mental activity.

cat hanging from shower curtain

The most important factor of treatment is to increase water intake

Increasing water consumption is a very important factor for all cats (many cats do not drink enough water which can cause a multitude of medical conditions including FIC). Wet cat food (either tinned or in the little envelopes) provides increased hydration over kibble based diets and owners can gradually add additional water creating gruel as their cat allows. Warming the food slightly can entice pickier cats and all changes should be made gradually.

Clean fresh water should be made available at all times. Try using different water dishes (glass or ceramic – plastic and metal can leave a taste some cats find offensive) in different areas of the house to provide privacy. Some cats prefer drinking from a glass, but most prefer low shallow bowls which allow visibility and do not touch their whiskers.

cat hissing at kitten

Introducing new cats into your home can be stressful for all involved

Decreasing stress in your cat’s life is very important. Providing high perches that are easily accessible allows your cat to have “safe spots” from which they can lounge and have protection from other pets in the household. Inappropriate elimination in the house can be decreased/eliminated by offering multiple litter boxes (there should be a litter box for each cat in the house plus an extra) adds safety and choice to your cat’s environment.

Inter-household stress among multiple cats is probably the biggest stresses for house cats. Providing each cat with outlets for mental and physical energy daily can reduce frustration and redirection. Spending time daily with each cat to play with toys, explore a safe outdoor area (on leash or within an enclosure) and resting areas throughout the house that provide a view of approaching animals can reduce the stress within the group. For those extremely stressed a pheromone spray can be useful.

Want to learn more about FIC, its treatment, and/or management? Please follow the links below: