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Monday, 02 August 2010 18:08

How Can I Treat My Cat's Cystitis (or FUS, or FLUTD)?

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The term "cystitis" literally means irritation of the urinary bladder. Prevention and treatment with diet is of utmost importance.

What Is Feline Cystitis?

Although this term is rather general, there is a common form of cystitis that occurs in male and female cats. This disease is also known as Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS) or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). It affects the bladder (not the kidneys), resulting in the production of tiny crystals and bloody urine. The cat often urinates much more frequently than normal, usually with the passage of only a few drops of urine. This can be confused with constipation. Many cats will urinate in places other than the litter box due to the irritation of the bladder wall, Hard cool surfaces such as tile floors, counter tops, sinks, and bathtubs are often used. They should not be punished for doing so.


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What Causes Feline Cystitis?

We are not completely sure of the cause of this problem. Bacterial infections are the most common cause of cystitis in dogs and humans, but most cats with cystitis do not have bacteria in their urine. Neutering of male cats has been proposed as a potential cause, but this has been disproved as an initiating factor. Dry foods may initiate and will aggravate the problem after it begins. This is because of the lower water content and higher mineral content (ash) of dry foods. Many episodes seem to be related to stress. Even a herpes virus has also been incriminated. Despite extensive research, the cause remains elusive.

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Are Bloody Urine and Straining to Urinate the Main Problems?

Many, but not all, cats with cystitis exhibit blood in the urine and discomfort in urinating. The discomfort often seems to be mild but some cats appear to be in acute distress. Every cat is an individual, and nees to be treated as such. Some cats may develop stones in the bladder which can be surgically removed, or dissolved with diet modification combined with homeopathic tratment. When indicated, supportive nutritional supplements ay be used.

Male cats may develop enough crystals in the urethra (the narrow tube carrying urine out of the body) to cause an obstruction. This obstruction prevents elimination of urine from the bladder. If the obstruction is not relieved within 48 hours, most cats will die from kidney failure and the retention of toxins that were not removed by the kidneys. Because the urethra is relatively larger in the female cat, the emergency posed by complete obstruction is almost always found in male cats

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How Is My Pet's Cystitis Treated?

Each pet with cystitis is treated according to the changes in the urine (pH, crystals, bacteria, blood, etc.), the type of crystals present, the presenting clinical signs (straining, increased frequency, etc.), and the presence or absence of a bladder stone or urethral obstruction. The first line of treatment is always to increase water consumption, decrease minerals in the diet and decrease stress.

This is accomplished by eliminating dry food, and mixing water in with the canned food (which is preferably meat-base as it promotes an acidic urine pH) If neither a bladder stone nor urethral obstruction is present, proper medication will generally relieve the discomfort. A urinalysis is necessary for proper diagnosis. A special diet will often help to dissolve crystals in the urine and hasten recovery. If the cat has an obstruction of the urethra, a catheter is passed into the bladder while he is under a short-acting anesthetic. The catheter is frequently left in place for about 24 hours. The cat is discharged from the hospital when it appears unlikely that obstruction will reoccur, usually 1-2 days later. If he is experiencing kidney failure and toxemia, intravenous fluids and additional hospitalization are needed.

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How Long Is Treatment Continued for Cystitis?

Following initial treatment, you will be asked to return the cat in 7-10 days for a recheck of the urine. This is very important because some cats will appear to feel much better, but the urine is still bloody or contains crystals. If medication is stopped based on how the cat appears to feel, treatment may terminated prematurely and a relapse will probably occur.

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Can Cystitis Occur Again?

After one episode of cystitis, a cat is predisposed to recurrence. This is due to both systemic and environmental factors. In my experience, the susceptibility to cystitis can be reduced by balancing the internal state homeopathically. Regardless of treatment during the acute symptoms, it is critical that an appropriate diet should be fed in the future.

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Are There Ways to Prevent Recurrence of Cystitis?

Two things should be done to help prevent recurrence. 1. The most common type of crystals present in the urine are called struvite. These are dissolvable in acidic urine. Therefore, acidification of your cat's urine can be a significant means of prevention. It has been shown that environmental stress can produce the opposite of acidic (alkaline) urine. This is one reason why cases of feline cystitis are associated with stress, e.g. travel, new pets, new people etc.

Proper diet will acidify the urine. However, if your cat's crystals are not struvite, acidification may actually make recurrence more likely. Therefore, if at all possible, the crystals in the urine should be analyzed for their composition. This is the most important step in preventing future problems.

2. Stop (or severely restrict) dry cat food. Though dry foods do not cause cystitis, several studies have shown that the cat's total fluid intake is decreased when dry diets are fed. When the fluid intake is decreased, the urine is more concentrated with minerals and other materials that can cause future episodes of cystitis. Canned foods can result in increased fluid intake and more dilute urine. Please read the article about transitioning cats to wet food if your cat is a dry food "junky".

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What Complications May Occur Due to an Obstructed Urethra?

The most common complication of a urethral obstruction is bladder atony. Atony means that the muscles of the bladder wall are unable to contract to push out urine. This occurs when they are stretched to an extreme degree. Not all cats with obstructions develop atony. If this occurs, longer hospitalization is necessary. The muscles will nearly always rebound and become functional again, but this may take several days to over a week. Another complication that occurs occasionally is kidney damage. Although feline cystitis does not directly affect the kidneys, if the bladder becomes extremely enlarged, urine may backup into the kidneys and create enough pressure to temporarily or permanently damage them. If this occurs, prolonged hospitalization will be necessary to treat the kidney damage. However, with aggressive treatment, most cats will recover their normal kidney function. It should be noted that both complications, bladder atony and kidney damage, are the direct result of the bladder becoming extremely enlarged. Both problems may be prevented by prompt recognition of the problem and prompt medical care.

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My Male Cat Has Had Several Urethral Obstructions. Can This Be Prevented?

Male cats that have more than one urethral obstruction can benefit from a surgical procedure called a perineal urethrostomy. The purpose of this is to remove the narrow part of the urethra that is the typical site of the obstruction. Although this prevents future obstructions, some of these cats will still have an occasional recurrence of cystitis, though usually not as severe. This surgical procedure is also performed if the urethral obstruction is so severe that normal urine flow cannot be reestablished or if there are permanent strictures that develop in the urethra. Surgically changing the cat's urethra makes him more prone to bacterial infections in the bladder and bladder stones. Therefore, this surgery is only recommended if other means of prevention or treatment are not successful. However, the complications associated with the surgery are not life-threatening like urethral obstructions, so the surgery generally offers a significant benefit for the cat that really needs it.

 Please note: The information provided here is intended to supplement the recommendations of your veterinarian. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment based on information on this site. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination performed by your veterinarian. -Dr. Jeff

Copyright ©1996-2012 HomeVet

Read 285911 times Last modified on Monday, 25 April 2016 19:17
Dr. Jeff Feinman

Jeffrey Feinman, BA, VMD, CVH, holds both molecular biology and veterinary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1998 he further advanced his training and became the first Certified Veterinary Homeopath in the state of Connecticut.

Dr. Jeff is devoted to teaching both pet owners and other veterinarians about homeopathy and optimal pet care. He and his wonderful wife (and practice manager) Amy live with Chi and Tigger their adopted Rex cats and Vanya their rescued Standard Poodle.

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  • Comment Link Dr. Jeff Thursday, 05 April 2012 04:01 posted by Dr. Jeff

    Sorry for the slow reply Rowena. I tend to monitor the Pet Chat forum closer than the articles (for faster replies).

    In such a young cat, I'd strongly advise being as proactive as possible. I'd advise a full workup including an ultrasound of his bladder and kidneys. Have you been to a specialist yet? Is this related to stress? What do you feed?

    I'd also advise homeopathic therapeutics to try and get to the root of the problem. Rather than just cover up symptoms with drugs, supplements, etc.

    Please let me know how it goes.

  • Comment Link rowena finch Monday, 02 April 2012 02:09 posted by rowena finch

    We have a 1 year old Siamese cat with a bleeding problem. every two weeks or so, he has a bleed from his urethra, there is never any blood in the litter box, we always find the blood where he has been sleeping, it looks to be about a half teaspoon full, vets cant seem to pinpoint the problem after numerous xrays/scans do you have an idea what might be causing this he is otherwise very healthy.

  • Comment Link Dr. Jeff Friday, 30 March 2012 03:19 posted by Dr. Jeff

    Hi Mary and Karen. Mary, I'd need a lot more info in order to help. Please post on my forum (Pet Chat) medical folder: http://www.homevet.com/pet-chat/medical-problems

    Karen, diet is very important in management of feline urinary problems and hopefully the new owner's vet will address it fully. Most important in management of most feline urinary issues is sufficient water. Ask them to avoid dry food. Promote fluid consumption.

  • Comment Link Karen Thursday, 29 March 2012 13:04 posted by Karen

    my husband rescued a starving cat last thursday - we immediately brought him to the vet. he's declawed and neutered. only weighed 4.8lbs. we kept him until sunday when a friend took him home to her house (i have a dog and can't keep him). the vet gave us medicated food, a shot of antibiotics, a shot of fluids, and vitamins to give the kitty. all of this we were doing when kitty was with us - he is in new home and eatting what her kitties eat and not the medicated food. received call from doctor last night that in the urine test they found cyrstals, doctor stressed how important it is to get kitty on a certain diet. i'm scared that it will be too difficult in his new home and i feel so responsible for this little guy. he's so loving and sweet. the new owner doesn't seem as worried as me. am i over reacting? what do i do?

  • Comment Link Mary Tahtinen Thursday, 29 March 2012 05:20 posted by Mary Tahtinen

    I have a male cat he is about 11 or 12 yrs o;d he is weak he stopped eating and drinking water I had an alful time getting him to eat one side of his nose seems to be full and i have to clean it regularly he sneezes numerous times one after the other he has no lower teeth and he was always on dry food but now he has been eating canned he used his litter pan to urinate and after he came out and laid down he screeched as if in pain lasted only a few seconds but then he woudnt eat or drink for a few days today he went potty and screeched out agian i am disabled and on a very fixed income but i cant stand to see him like this cant afford a vet what can i do for him to make him better? is there a home remedy or pills for this? i have him eating and drinking agian,but he holds his urine as long as he can cause he hurts after he goes, im treating him for fleas and worms, i just lost my dog last year and he is all i have left i dont want to lose him can you hel me?

  • Comment Link Dr. Jeff Tuesday, 13 March 2012 01:42 posted by Dr. Jeff

    Homeopathic treatment can help cats with cystitis Patricia. I believe however that you mean holistic treatment. Not homeopathic.

    Homeopathy needs to be individualized for every patient. Therefore, one cat with cystitis may be treated with a totally different homeopathic remedy than another with cystitis.

    The specific symptoms that manifest before and during the bout with cystitis are the clues that guide us to the best treatment (and prevention).

    General guidelines are discussed in this article and in the medical issues folder at the forum (there are at least 29 cystitis posts at http://www.homevet.com/pet-chat/medical-problems ) Stop dry food. Increase fluid consumption. Consider cranberry extract and acidifying the urine. The composition of the crystals is also important. Rarely there may even be bacteria associated with the cystitis. Often vitamin C, other immune boosters, glycosaminoglycans, etc., can also help.

    It is also very important to try and decrease environmental stress.

    Feel free to post any follow-up info or questions here or on the forum.

    Be well.

    Dr. Jeff

  • Comment Link Patricia Ripplinger Sunday, 11 March 2012 17:42 posted by Patricia Ripplinger

    Pleasse advise if there are any homeopathic treatments for this condition. The emergency vet sent me home with antibiotic and pain medication.
    My cat was trying to urinate unsuccessfully and I got him to the vet within the hour. His PH is high and there are crystals. He is doing well today. Waiting to see how urination goes.
    He did urinate about midnight last night when we got home but not since. Can you suggest any homeopathic treatment to deal with crystal formation?

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