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Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Your cat has lower urinary tract signs (straining to urinate, frequent urination, blood in the urine). The majority (>60%) of cats with lower urinary tract signs have Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC; also known as FUS), which is a disorder that causes inflammation in the bladder and urethra. The second most common cause of lower urinary tract signs is a stone in the urinary tract. The least common cause in young or middle-aged cats is a bacterial urinary tract infection.


Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is diagnosed by ruling out other causes of lower urinary tract signs, usually by performing an ultrasound or X-ray of the abdomen to rule out stones, as well as a urinalysis and urine culture to rule out infection. Once these other causes have been ruled out, you can begin treatment for FIC by following the recommendations below.


1. INCREASE WATER CONSUMPTION: This is the primary treatment for FIC. Offer a canned diet instead of dry food; slowly   transition to the new food over 3-4 days. Buy a circulating water fountain (available at many pet stores or online). You can also put a small amount of tuna juice in the cat’s water bowl to encourage drinking.


2. ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT: Provide a “house of plenty” by offering multiple food bowls, water bowls, and litter boxes (a general guideline is number of cats in house + 1). Provide many places to hide and sleep. Provide window seats so your cat can look outside. Schedule regular interaction with your cat on a daily basis. Try to identify and resolve any inter-cat conflict or other stressful things in your household. Some cats respond well to pheromones (Feliway). A good online resource for environmental enrichment is


3. MEDICATIONS: Some cats with FIC require the use of medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants or drugs that decrease urethral tone.


Some cats with FIC can develop urethral obstructions from inflammatory debris. This is a life-threatening problem because electrolyte imbalances, cardiac arrhythmias, and death can occur. If you notice any of the following signs in your cat please contact a veterinarian immediately:


  • Straining to urinate without producing any urine

  • No urination for greater than 24 hours

  • Vocalization/crying

  • Lethargy

  • Decreased appetite

  • Vomiting

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