Ask any cat, and they’ll swear they wouldn’t wish urinary tract disease on their worst Boston Terrier – or even bathtub, if you want to get personal. Urinary tract disease is when painful inflammation occurs in your feline’s lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and the urethra (the thin tube from the bladder). This can cause big changes in Bandit’s behaviour:
- Problems in toilet town.
- Licking his bottom a lot.
- Not a nibble of his food.
- Crying or seemingly grumpy, when you pick him up.
If you think it sounds a bit more serious than a hissy-fit, you’ve nailed it right there. But don’t worry, we’re going to give you the full cat-n-caboodle on urinary tract disease and what you can do about it.
Read on, kitties.
The scoop on Feline Idiopathic Cystitis.
Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) – which means ‘bladder inflammation’ where the cause is unknown – is the most common diagnosis in kitties with urinary tract disease. Basically, this means your cat will experience the same symptoms as other urinary tract problems, but when urine tests, and blood tests and X-rays are done, no underlying cause is found. (Cue cat in detective outfit.)
So, the cause of FIC is still a mystery, even with the litter of research that’s been done. However, it does appear that stress plays a biiiiig role, likely by stimulating the nerves that trigger inflammation of the bladder wall. Studies show the most popular stresser for cats is living with, or near a another feline that he just doesn’t fancy. But your Shorthair may be shaken by other factors as well. So, if you can find these and send them on their catty way, you can actually reduce the recurrence and severity of urinary tract problems.
Other important research folks have found that, in some cats, the layer that coats and protects the bladder wall is thin, with less glucosaminoglycan (GAG) than normal. In this case, GAG supplements may be useful to treat these cats with urinary tract problems.
Urethral obstruction blocks Buddy’s health.
Urethral obstruction, or ‘blocked bladder’, is a life-threatening condition that you’ll really want to keep a cat’s eye on – especially if your cat is male or has been neutered. These kitties are at a greater risk for urethral obstruction because their urethras are longer and narrower than other cats’. What happens is, the urethra becomes blocked by a ‘plug’ of protein and cells from the inflamed bladder wall, and sometimes this plug also contains crystals. (And trust us, they’re not for good luck.) Think of crystals as fine grains of sand that really irritate poor Bella’s bladder.
If your cat has a blocked urethra, he’ll behave like any other cat with a urinary tract disease, but as time goes on, will become increasingly distressed. So, definitely try to nip this for your bud, because once the urethra is fully blocked, his kidneys won’t be able to remove toxins from the blood. And without immediate treatment, the condition is unfortunately fatal. Hisssssssss.
Putting the cat-bash on urinary tract disease (or reducing it).
Your first step to getting urinary tract disease on a short leash is taking your favourite feline to the vet.
Now remember, even though cats with urinary tract disease show similar signs, there are many different causes – blockage, FIC, infection, urinary stones, cancer, and so forth. So, your vet will give your cat a full physical examination and run urine tests, to find out what it is. If the cause isn’t found the first time around, he or she may recommend other tests such as a urine culture, bloods and x-rays.
Whatever is found to be causing your cat’s problem, your vet will work out a plan to solve it.
Kitty steps may include:
Changing to canned food or moistening dry food.
The single most important, or top-cat thing you can do to reduce urinary tract disease, is to dilute the urine of your cat. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to feed him a canned or sachet diet. Particularly if your vet discovers lots of crystals and/or bladder stones, a prescription canned diet may be recommended. You’ll want to feed him small meals on a frequent basis, as this will keep his urine pH constant. And if you can have plenty of water available for your feline, and encourage him to drink – cat-tastic.
Making sure the litterbox is welcoming, not stressful.
If your kitty uses a litterbox, make sure there is at least one for him and his brother, Peaches. This will make things less tense for your Turkish Angora, as will keeping the box clean, using litter he likes, and placing the box in a safe, quiet area of your home.
Reducing stress altogether.
If you uncover what your Siamese is stressing about, and then scratch that off his list, go forth, pet-lover! As we alluded to earlier, stress factors can include new cats in the house or neighbourhood; and changes in the household, family or environment, in general. On one paw, you can stop neighbourhood cats from coming into your house with a magnetic cat door. Or you can get your feline a litterbox so he doesn’t need to go outside if he’s feeling a bit scaredy-cat. Feliway (a cat pheromone, available as a plug-in diffuser or spray) can also help chill your Chausie, not to mention reduce anxiety.
Repairing the protective GAG layer.
Therapy to replace the GAG layer in the bladder could also help your kitty by reducing pain and inflammation. This is still not fully proven, but GAG supplements (by injection or added in his food) have been known to see success, as well. Me-WOW.
Trying other medications.
Your compawdre may need additional pain-relief medications when they have an episode of Urinary Tract Disease of Our Lives. For example, your cat may need drugs to stop urethral spasms and swelling. Don’t worry – your vet will give you the whole ball of string.
So you see, urinary tract disease is serious, but it’s also seriously treatable. By pouncing on the symptoms early on, you can still give your whiskered wonder the quality of life he deserves. Mew, mew!