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About idiopathic cystitis

Cats can sometimes suffer from urinary tract problems without there being a known reason why they occur. This is called idiopathic cystitis, where cystitis means inflammation of the bladder and idiopathic means that the cause is not known. This is a type of inflammation that is a common cause of urinary incontinence.
The symptoms of idiopathic cystitis are similar to many other urinary tract related problems such as urinary retention problems, the cat urinating in the wrong places and sometimes the cat may also have blood in the urine. Note that this can also cause acute urinary retention and should always be considered an emergency before it can be determined that retention is not present.
Before diagnosing idiopathic cystitis, the veterinarian needs to rule out other possible causes for the cat's symptoms. Examples of other problems that have similar symptoms are urinary stones and urinary tract infections.
Although it is not possible today to answer exactly why cats suffer from idiopathic cystitis, there are indeed some risk factors that have been identified. For example, stress and idiopathic cystitis have often been shown to be associated.
There are several identified risk factors for idiopathic cystitis, these are:
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Catsitting
  • Travel for the cat
  • General changes in the cat's home environment such as:
    • New people/animals in the household
    • New routines for people at home
    • Renovations or other noises
    • Re-furnishing
    • Other cat at home
If a cat has recurring problems with idiopathic cystitis, there is a lot you can do as a cat owner to prevent the problems from occurring. These are:
  • Weight control
  • Minimising known stressors at home
  • Feliway pheromone preparation, this will make your cat feel calmer
  • Special food, may differ depending on the individual, consult the treating vet.

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