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Feline Idiopathic Cystitis – Symptoms & Treatment

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

What Is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis?

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) is a common and frustrating condition in cats that can cause discomfort, pain, and even death if left untreated.

It is a non-infectious inflammation of the bladder and urinary tract that is often seen in middle-aged and older cats.

This condition is known as idiopathic because there is no known underlying cause for the inflammation.

Clinical Signs Of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

The symptoms of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis can be vague and may come and go.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Licking around the genital area
  • Crying out while urinating
  • Urine with a strong odor
  • Weakness
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Hiding

These symptoms can also indicate other conditions such as urinary tract infections or bladder stones, so it is essential to take your cat to the vet for a proper diagnosis.

Treatment Options For Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

The treatment of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis varies depending on the severity of the symptoms.

The goal of treatment is to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent a recurrence of the condition.

The following treatments may be recommended by your vet:

  • Fluid therapy: Your vet may recommend fluid therapy to help flush out the bladder and urinary tract, and to keep your cat hydrated.
  • Pain medication: Pain medication may be prescribed to relieve the discomfort and pain associated with FIC.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the bladder and urinary tract.
  • Environmental modifications: Modifying your cat's environment can help reduce stress and anxiety. This can include providing a quiet and safe place for your cat to rest, adding more litter boxes, and creating a consistent routine.
  • Dietary changes: Your vet may recommend a special diet that is high in moisture and low in carbohydrates to help manage FIC. Wet food may be recommended over dry food, as it provides more moisture and can help prevent dehydration.

Home Remedies For Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Some home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of feline idiopathic cystitis include:

  • Increased water intake: Encouraging your cat to drink more water can help to flush out bacteria and reduce inflammation in the bladder. Try offering fresh water in different locations throughout the house or adding water to wet food.
  • Litter box management: Ensure that your cat has easy access to a clean litter box at all times. This will encourage your cat to urinate regularly and reduce the risk of bladder irritation. Consider using a larger litter box to give your cat more space.
  • Stress reduction: Since stress is a major trigger for feline idiopathic cystitis, reducing your cat's stress levels can help to prevent flare-ups. This can include providing a calm and consistent home environment, regular playtime, and providing hiding spots and perches for your cat to retreat to.
  • Nutritional support: Feeding your cat a high-quality diet can help to support their immune system and promote bladder health. Look for foods that are low in magnesium and phosphorus and high in moisture content.
  • Herbal remedies: Some natural remedies, such as cranberry and marshmallow root, may help to soothe the bladder and reduce inflammation. However, always check with your vet before administering any herbal remedies to ensure they are safe for your cat.

How To Prevent Feline Idiopathic Cystitis?

Preventing feline idiopathic cystitis can be challenging since the exact cause of the condition is unknown.

However, there are several steps that cat owners can take to reduce their cat's risk of developing the condition.

These include:

  • Providing plenty of fresh, clean water: Encouraging cats to drink plenty of water can help prevent the formation of bladder crystals and stones, which can lead to inflammation and urinary tract issues.
  • Feeding a high-quality diet: A diet that is high in moisture and low in carbohydrates can help maintain urinary tract health and prevent the development of bladder issues.
  • Reducing stress: Stress can trigger feline idiopathic cystitis in some cats, so reducing stress levels in the home environment can help prevent the condition. This may include providing plenty of hiding places, providing regular play and exercise, and minimizing disruptions to the cat's routine.
  • Providing a clean litter box: A clean litter box can help prevent urinary tract infections and inflammation. Cat owners should scoop the litter box daily and clean it thoroughly at least once a week.

Affected Cat Breeds Of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Feline idiopathic cystitis can occur in any breed of cat. However, it is more common in female cats, overweight cats, and middle-aged cats.

Causes For Feline Idiopathic Cystitis


The exact cause of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is unknown.

However, several factors are believed to contribute to the development of this condition, including:

  • Stress: Cats that are stressed or anxious are more likely to develop FIC. Changes in their environment, such as moving or the introduction of a new pet or family member, can trigger stress and lead to FIC.
  • Diet: A diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in moisture can cause dehydration and contribute to the development of FIC. Dry cat food can also irritate the bladder and urinary tract, leading to inflammation.
  • Dehydration: Cats that do not drink enough water can become dehydrated, leading to the development of FIC.
  • Obesity: Overweight cats are more prone to developing FIC.
  • Inactivity: Cats that are not physically active are more likely to develop FIC.

When To See A Vet For Feline Idiopathic Cystitis?

If a cat is exhibiting any signs of feline idiopathic cystitis, such as straining to urinate, urinating outside of the litter box, or blood in the urine, it is important to see a veterinarian right away.

The veterinarian will perform a physical exam and may recommend additional tests, such as a urinalysis or bloodwork, to diagnose the condition.

If a cat has been diagnosed with feline idiopathic cystitis, it is important to follow the veterinarian's recommended treatment plan and follow up with regular check-ups to monitor the cat's condition.

If the cat's symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop, it is important to contact the veterinarian right away.

Food Suggestions For Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Diet can play a role in preventing feline idiopathic cystitis. Feeding your cat a high-quality, balanced diet can help prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for the condition.

Feeding your cat a diet that is low in magnesium and promotes urinary health can also be beneficial. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your cat.


Feline idiopathic cystitis is a common and often frustrating condition for cat owners. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek veterinary care promptly to prevent complications.

Prevention through maintaining a healthy weight, providing fresh water, and promoting urinary health through diet can be helpful.

With proper treatment and management, most cats with feline idiopathic cystitis can live normal, healthy lives.

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