Posted By: Sarah - Vet

Cats and Cystitis: Decoding Feline Stressors for a Happier, Healthier Pet

At Shepton and Wells Vets, we understand the subtle complexities of feline health, a topic underscored by our recent encounters with cats facing bladder problems. While our feline companions often appear to lead carefree lives, delving into their world reveals intricacies we might overlook. Bladder issues, especially cystitis, can be more than just physical ailments; they are often triggered by stressors we may not fully comprehend.

I have seen a few cats with bladder problems recently. Cystitis is fairly common in cats, and it can be quite a complicated issue. Bacterial infections in young and middle-aged cats are rare, and it is often an issue that can be associated with stress acting as a trigger. 

Now, we may think that our feline companions live a stress-free life with food and attention on tap, but if we look at life from a cats-eye view, there may be issues we hadn’t considered.  

Cats like to be in charge of their environment, and while most of them can cope with a few changes, others may suffer an inappropriate stress reaction which leads to bladder pain and inflammation. As animals originally adapted to live in desert conditions, they tend to produce a highly concentrated urine which can then be irritant to an inflamed bladder wall.  

We then see the typical signs of cystitis, with a cat who is on and off the litter tray or keeps popping out of the cat flap, squatting and straining to produce a few drops of urine which may be blood-stained. Treatment with anti-inflammatories can be very effective but understanding the underlying issues and putting a few measures in place can be helpful.   

Prevention, of course is better than cure and there are some things we can do which give a nod to a cats’ wild ancestry. Firstly, space food and water bowls apart from each other. A cat in the wild will not drink from a watercourse where it has killed and eaten as the water will be contaminated. If dry food is offered, consider leaving a bowl available so the cat can graze – a wild cat will spend a lot of time hunting and may eat 10-20 small meals per day. Cats enjoy play and are most likely to be playful before mealtimes mimicking hunting behaviour. They can also have dry food in activity feeders which further stimulates their hunting instinct and gives them mental stimulation.  

Encourage drinking – multiple water bowls are a good idea. Cats tend to like fresh water, hence why they may drink from your glass of water, a dripping tap or even a freshly flushed toilet! Special cat fountains are available which some really like. Some wet food is a good idea as it increases their total fluid intake. 

Make sure food and water bowls and litter trays are positioned away from places where another cat may overlook them from outdoors. If there is more than one cat in the house, there should be enough bowls, so they do not have to share and as many litter trays as cats +1.  

Then there are changes to the environment which can be stressful, such as a new kitten/puppy/baby. Having work done in the house can case disturbance, and of course a new cat on the block, particularly if they come into the house. I have come across all of these triggering attacks. While we cannot always avoid these issues, try to provide a safe place for your cat. Make sure they have quiet places to hide and rest, put food and water in their favourite room and consider a pheromone diffuser.   

Hopefully, a bit of ‘cattitude’ may help, but always see us if your cat is showing any signs which worry you that they may have cystitis.  

- Vet Sarah

Incorporating a touch of 'cattitude' into our understanding, we advocate for a holistic approach in feline care. By recognizing their natural instincts and minimizing stressors, we can create environments where our cats thrive. If you ever notice concerning signs or behavior in your feline friend, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Your cat's well-being is our priority, and together, we can ensure they lead healthy, stress-free lives.


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