Preventing Bladder Disease in Cats

Without a doubt, one of the most common problems cats have is bladder disease. Cats are often presented at the veterinary hospital for not using the litter box. What cats can’t tell their owners is that they hurt! Some of these unfortunate cats have owners that skip the veterinarian and go right to the shelter or worse.

I’ve been around for more than a few years now. I’ve seen the evolution of causes and names of bladder disease in cats from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease to Feline Interstitial Cystitis, from high ash diet to environmental stress. Honestly, nobody has a complete answer to the question of why cats so commonly suffer from this problem. But, there are some things we DO know.

First, we know that cats rarely have urinary infections. That doesn’t mean it never happens; it’s just unusual. Most cats with straining and pain when they urinate, bloody urine and even crystals in their urine, have sterile urine. Antibiotics may be used to treat these cats “just in case”.

One of the things we can control in cats with bladder disease is diet. Modern day cats are often fed a dry food diet for convenience and economy. The problem is……cats do not drink enough to compensate for the dry food. This leads to irritation in the bladder. I recommend all cats be fed either an entirely canned diet or at least some canned food daily to help with water intake as canned food contains so much liquid. Even watering down food can be of help.

One of the most recent findings in feline medicine is the role stress plays in this disease. We have taken this domestic animal and changed its ingrained way of living to suit our needs. They go potty in a box with a substrate and location that is convenient for us. They live in a house with little access to the activities their ancestors took part in. Their lives revolve around activities with their busy humans, coexistence with other pets that may not be friends, and just plain boredom.

Some cats can handle adverse situations with no problems. Some cats can’t. A handy analogy I use is some people get stressed and have a predisposition to blood pressure elevation. The next person gets stressed, but the BP stays in a normal range. So, it’s our job as pet people to make the environment our cats live in as cat friendly as possible. A great web site to help with this is http://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/.

To keep your cat’s bladder healthy, keep the stresses down and the diet fluid!

photo at top courtesy of Jennifer via Flickr