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Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), formerly known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, is a serious disease that affects a cat's urinary bladder and sometimes the urethra (the tube-like structure that carries urine out of the bladder). FIC is thought to result when the normally protective bladder lining changes to become less protective, allowing urine to irritate the underlying bladder tissue. Ultimately, the bladder becomes painful. Veterinarians also believe that stress from environmental, nutritional, and/or familial changes plays a role in the development of FIC.


Your cat may have FIC if she squats or strains excessively in or out of the litter box and produces very little or no urine. She may also urinate frequently, urinate outside the litter box, meow or howl while urinating, frequently lick her genital area, or have blood in her urine. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, see your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will rule out other conditions such as kidney disease, urinary tract infections, cancer, bladder stones, or (potentially fatal) blockage of the urethra with a physical exam, urinalysis, blood tests, and/or X-rays.


If your cat has FIC, reduce stress in her environment. Keep a normal routine, maintain her diet (if possible), keep your home quiet, interact with her regularly, and offer toys, scratching posts, and spacious cat furniture. Also, provide sufficient litter boxes and separate spaces to prevent conflict between other pets. A calming cat pheromone product such as Feliway® may also help. Your veterinarian may also recommend a cat fountain to boost water intake. Additionally, since FIC is extremely painful, your veterinarian may prescribe a pain reliever and even a tranquilizer to optimize your cat's comfort.

While FIC symptoms often resolve within a week, the disease tends to recur. Keep your cat's stress level low to minimize her risk of additional episodes.

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