Interstitial Cystitis in Cats, Feline Interstitial Cystitis (FIC)
Feline interstitial cystitis, sometimes called feline idiopathic cystitis or FIC, is an inflammation of the bladder that causes symptoms of lower urinary tract disease. However, in the case of interstitial cystitis, a definitive cause for the disease cannot be identified.
Feline interstitial cystitis can occur in both female and male cats. It is a chronic disease that can be difficult to treat and frustrating for cats and cat owners alike.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms associated with interstitial cystitis include:
- Frequent attempts to urinate
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating in inappropriate places in the house
- Crying out during attempts to urinate
- Blood-tinged urine
Though the cause of feline interstitial cystitis is not fully understood, stress and the changes inherent in the body as a result of stress are thought to play a large part in interstitial cystitis. Some researchers believe that interstitial cystitis is only one of the manifestations seen in cats suffering from stress and may only be the “tip of iceberg” in terms of symptoms that may be caused by stress. Abnormalities have also been found in the nervous, endocrine and cardiovascular systems of cats in addition to the urinary system. It remains unknown why some cats develop symptoms of FIC and others do not.
Diagnosis relies on ruling out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms, such as urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and other bladder abnormalities in cats. Testing that is frequently performed include:
- A blood screen, including a complete blood cell count (which examines the different types of cells circulating in the blood stream, such as red blood cells and white blood cells) and chemistry profile (which is useful in evaluating the function of major organs such as the liver and kidneys)
- A urinalysis, which checks for abnormalities in the urine, including blood, crystals, protein and other abnormal substances as well as testing the pH (which determines how acidic the urine is), and the urine specific gravity (which determines whether the urine is concentrated or not)
- An abdominal X-ray and/or an ultrasound exam of the bladder to rule out stones and other abnormal structures in the bladder