Cause of Interstitial Cystitis
We do not really know what causes interstitial cystitis. The current theory is that some cats can have a problem with the protective lining on their bladder. Then, if a cat is under "stress" the bladder wall can become inflamed. The process is very similar to having a stomach ulcer.
How can you tell if your cat is stressed? We sometimes do not know what is causing the stress but a few possible reasons include:
- Moving to a new home
- New people visiting in the house
- New pets in the house
- When the owner is under stress
- Renovations in the house
Then, there are some cats that just get this problem and absolutely no cause can be found.
Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis
- training to urinate
- frequent trips to the litter box
- blood in urine
- urinating in unusual places
If you have a male cat with these symptoms you should also consider the possibility of a much more serious problem called FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease).
Diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis
If your cat has any of the above symptoms your vet will want to do a urinalysis. The most common sign of interstitial cystitis is blood in the urine with no bacteria or crystals present. Unfortunately the only way to be certain of the diagnosis is to do a biopsy or endoscopic exam of the bladder wall. But, in most cases seeing blood microscopically can be enough to diagnose a cat with interstitial cystitis.
Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis
Unfortunately there is no treatment that works consistently in cats, but there are several different types of products that we will often prescribe.
In many cases if we can reduce the inflammation for a few days the cat will recover. Anti-inflammatory drugs that are often used are Metacam or Tolfedine. Your vet will only use these medications if there is no evidence of a kidney problem.
For many cats, interstitial cystitis can be a recurring problem. For these cats we can use anti-inflammatory medications more often. Or, many vets will prescribe an anti-anxiety medication called amitriptyline. Amitriptyline is generally safe and tolerated well. However, it does need to be given every day. It comes in a pill form and most cats do not like the taste of the pill. It also comes in a transdermal formulation that you apply to the inside of the ear. But, the absorption of the transdermal medication is variable and it is not recommended to use this approach.
Another product I often suggest to use is Feliway. Feliway is a feline pheromone which is a chemical that is released into the air that is proven to reduce stress levels. It comes in a plug in diffuser or a spray. This article has a great discussion on research that indicates that Felieway really works .
Another thing that helps these cats is to increase the amount of water that they are taking in. This can be done by adding a water fountain. The fountain keeps the water circulating which makes it more attractive to cats.
Your vet may also recommend a food such as Royal Canin s / o canned food or Hill's c / d multi canned food. These foods work well to increase the amount of moisture going through the bladder. They also help to keep the pH of your cat's urine at a level that is recommended to reduce inflammation.
Interstitial cystitis can be a recurring problem, but with good observation and close communication with your vet, most animals can be controlled well.