Monday 14 May 2012

Feline Cystitis Warning

There should be a warning about feline cystitis and its association with stress. What I mean is we should look at stress in our cat if she has cystitis. Cystitis is a feline urinary tract disease and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are one the most common feline diseases. It makes you think actually because there may be more stress problems in the domestic cat than we think. We know that cats don't openly show their distress. Our cat can't communicate with us on the issue of stress. We have to look for signs. One possible sign is cystitis. It might not be the only cause - another could be a diet of dry cat food - but being sensitive to the possibility that your cat might be stressed should be a consideration.

It appears that stress aggravates symptoms of cystitis rather than being a single direct cause. A scientific study by Cameron and associates in 2004 found that "several stress factors were found to be associated with FIC" (feline idiopathic cystitis -- cystitis with no obvious cause). It was concluded that the outstanding stressor or stress factor was a cat living with another cat or cats with which there was some form of conflict. People managing multi-cat households should probably look at how their cats get on and whether anything can be done to alleviate compatibility problems between cats. Also the "lack of adequate provision for normal feline behaviors" should be assessed1. In multi-cat households there may be competition for litter trays, food and water. The competition should be reduced because someone is losing the competition regularly. Also if a cat has limited access to water due to the presence of a dominant cat the submissive cat may develop a UTI. A safe area for submissive cats might help.

On a personal level my experience informs me that another stress factor can be separation anxiety for a single cat whose only companion is the human caretaker. This does not have to be for long individual periods of separation. To put that in different terms, a cat left alone all day, every weekday, in a flat while the owner goes out to make a living and comes back late having left early can cause stress. Day after day of that may greatly exacerbate urinary tract problems leading to cystitis.

Normally, you won't know your cat is stressed until you see spots of bloody urine on the carpet in the corners. This form of inappropriate elimination can be caused by your cat forming an association between the pain of urination and the litter tray driving her to go elsewhere. Or perhaps and in addition your cat simply has to go anywhere. Cystitis creates a strong urge to go to the toilet.

You might be able to detect stress through separation anxiety by the behavior of your cat on your return. Was she by the front door when you opened it?  Sometimes cat with FIC will over-groom in the area of the lower abdomen and thighs. This is probably due to the discomfort felt in those areas.

Note: 1 page 111 The Welfare of Cats ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1 - excellent book. Buy it on Amazon for the best price.

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