Urinary issues seem to plague cats, and once they start, your cat can suffer future flare-ups. One of cats’ most common urinary problems is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). A condition that has no known cause, FIC can lead to your cat developing a host of uncomfortable clinical signs. Straining to urinate, blood-tinged urine, vocalizing while urinating, inappropriate elimination, and frequently urinating small amounts are typical signs of FIC, along with many other conditions that make up feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).
While you cannot minimize some of your cat’s FLUTD risks—such as anatomical defects and neoplasia—you can take steps to help them avoid urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and urethral plugs. Our Southwest Vet team explains how you can promote your cat’s urinary health, and help prevent FLUTD issues.
#1: Improve your cat’s home environment
Indoor cats may seem like they have the perfect life, but days filled with lounging around, always-available food, and countless cat naps can be endless and boring. Your cat needs environmental enrichment that fulfills their natural instincts, or they can become bored, stressed, and anxious, which are major FIC triggers. Reduce the potential for urinary issues by adding variety and activity to your cat’s daily routine by:
- Switching to interactive feeders — Your domesticated cat’s ancestors hunted multiple times each day, unlike your furry feline who gulps down a couple of large meals per day. To satisfy your cat’s natural hunting instincts, put their food in a puzzle feeder that encourages them to think about how to get to their food. Robotic mice, rubber Kongs, rubber mats, and other stuffable food puzzles help prevent overeating, while allowing your cat to emulate instinctual feline behaviors.
- Engaging in training sessions — Although training a cat is quite different from training a dog, your feline friend can benefit from the mental and physical stimulation regular training sessions provide. Keep each session brief, and use plenty of positive reinforcement to encourage your cat to spin, jump, and give a high five.
- Installing more scratching surfaces — Cats need to scratch for a multitude of reasons, so provide appropriate outlets to satisfy that urge. Add vertical and horizontal scratching posts and pads in various textures to determine your cat’s favorite.
- Utilizing vertical space — Cats want to be up high to observe their territory, and you can help your cat keep lookout by installing cat shelving, climbing towers, and other lofty perches. Having an elevated hideout can help your cat feel safer and more secure in their environment.
- Diffusing soothing pheromones — Cats are highly sensitive to change, and disruptions to their environment or daily routine can cause anxiety and aggressive behavior. However, you can mitigate the negative energy by using calming pheromones. Diffuse these natural chemicals—which promote relaxation—in the room where your cat spends most of their time. Pheromones are particularly useful in multicat households where tensions can run high.
#2: Change your cat’s diet
Domesticated cats’ ancestors were desert-dwellers who adapted to having little available drinking water. However, inadequate hydration, paired with a dry diet that causes an imbalanced pH, can lead to urinary crystal development. If left uncorrected, urinary crystals can form bladder stones that may require surgical removal, cause urinary tract infections, or result in a urethral obstruction—a life-threatening condition. A urethral obstruction is generally caused by a mucous plug, urinary crystals, and other debris that forms in the narrow tube that passes urine from the bladder. Once the urethra is blocked, the body’s toxin-filtering system fails, and can cause your cat’s death within 24 to 48 hours.
Feeding your cat a proper diet that cultivates the correct urinary pH is essential for preventing crystal formation and more serious issues. Some cats require a prescription food to optimize their urinary health, so ask your Southwest Vet veterinarian which diet is best for your cat. Also, ensure your cat always has plenty of clean, fresh water available to prevent dehydration. Boost your cat’s water intake by purchasing a pet drinking fountain, and adding canned food to their normal diet.
#3: Keep your cat’s litter box clean
Not only does a clean litter box encourage your cat to stay within its confines, you can monitor their urinary health when you scoop the box twice a day, giving you an opportunity to see the amount your furry friend is urinating, and whether they have switched from a few puddles to small, frequent amounts. You may also observe blood-tinged litter—a sign of urinary tract infection, FIC, or other issues. In addition to being able to monitor your cat’s urinary habits, you can minimize their stress—an important FIC trigger—by keeping their litter box clean.
Many factors contribute to your cat’s urinary health. If your cat is exhibiting FLUTD signs, consult your veterinarian right away to prevent them from developing a life-threatening condition. To maintain their urinary health, schedule your cat’s regular low-stress, feline-friendly wellness exam, so our Southwest Vet team can monitor their kidney and urinary health, and discuss how you can improve your furry friend’s home environment to help prevent FIC. Give our Southwest Vet team a call to schedule your cat’s appointment, and learn how to improve your feline companion’s urinary health.