What is wrong with my cat's whiz factory?
March 2, 2011 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Cat filter: My cat has idiopathic cystitis and I would love some advice on how to help her feel better.

My cat Prufrock has been having urinary tract issues since just before Christmas. (She had a UTI in the summer of 2009, but didn't have any problems between then and now. I have an earlier question here on Ask about her from then.) She has had blood tests, multiple urine tests, and even x-rays to see if she has bladder stones. Everything is negative. She doesn't have stones or any signs of infection, and her blood work is normal, so the vet diagnosed her with idiopathic cystitis.

In December the vet put her on Dasuquin, a glucosamine and chondroiton supplement that is supposed to help with feline bladder issues, which she has been eating on her food since then. She also has had a couple of rounds of antibiotics, but isn't on any right now. After everything was ruled out, the vet recommended Royal Canin Urinary SO canned food, which I have been trying to get her to eat. She has been eating that for less than a week, and sometimes she ignores it, sometimes she gobbles it up.

I'm worried right now because since yesterday she has had quite a bit of blood in her urine. I check the litter box and there are droplets of bright red in it. She also seems to be straining. The vet said I should bring her back in a week if it is still happening, but I want to know if there is anything else I could do to help her out before then. She drinks a lot of water, and always has since she was a kitten, and eats some wet food but mostly dry. She doesn't eat very much at all, really. She doesn't seem dehydrated like she did in December.

Does anyone have any experience with mysterious bladder issues in female cats? Most of the information I have been able to find is on male cats, which she isn't, obviously. Are there other diagnoses I can suggest my vet check for? Is there anything else I can try to give her some relief? Pru and I would love your advice.
posted by apricot to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If it's okay with your vet, I'd recommend finding another high quality wet food for Prufrock. The fact that she drinks a great deal of water makes me wonder if she's still dehydrated; cats are built to get most of their moisture from the food they eat, so if they're eating mostly dry they can easily go through life chronically dehydrated. Since Prufrock seems to have at best an on-again, off-again romance with the Royal Canin maybe you can alternate it with a tastier canned food?

You'd probably want to avoid fish-based recipes since fish contains a great deal of phosphorous and magnesium, which can stress out senior cats and cats with kidney problems.

If she really loves her some dry food you might want to check out something like First Mate's nummy blueberry formula since the blueberries promote a healthy urinary tract. (Except, wait, there's fish in that one--might not be a great choice. Hmm.)

Not sure what to suggest the vet look for with further testing. Good luck, though. She's a beautiful cat. How old is she?
posted by Neofelis at 12:28 AM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: I didn't know that about fish! Yikes!

I'll ask about other food options. The last time I talked to the vet she seemed to enjoy the Royal Canin. She and her sister usually share a pouch of Whiskas twice a day, but she only eats about 1/3 of it and her sister eats the rest. She's so picky, and not that interested in food. Maybe any wet food is better than no wet food, even though I would rather she eat something better than Whiskas!

Thanks for the advice! Pru is very pretty. She turns 4 in a couple of weeks, so pretty young for these problems!
posted by apricot at 5:28 AM on March 3, 2011

Best answer: My sweet kitty has the same problem! We are now on Hills Science Diet c/d dry and wet food. She loves the dry, and is on again-off again with the wet. When she was having symptoms the vet put her on kitty amytriptaline. Supposedly that chilled her out enough to keep her from straining and I think helped with the pain. Her last episode was well over a year ago now. I think the food has been keeping her urine pH level enough to keep symptoms at bay.

Good luck with this! I know it's hard to watch them be in pain and not be able to explain that straining to pee makes it worse and to just relax.
posted by MultiFaceted at 5:35 AM on March 3, 2011

Best answer: My cat, Eeyore, (the root of all evil referenced in an earlier post of mine-I still love her even if she is diabolically evil) has this issue. She gets prednisone every other day, which seems to help, as well as Science diet c/d. Another option that I thought about trying is a therapeutic laser. The clinic that I work at has one, and it has had (surprisingly) good results on other conditions, so I may give it a try (and it won't cost me anything-big sell!). Try googling it, I have read cases of it being used on cats with cystitis, maybe it will work.

As far as what else your vet can look for...Eeyore has calcifications on the interior aspect of her kidney, something that can only be imaged with an ultrasound or CT. This is the probable cause of her chronic bladder irritation. Having this information in hand doesn't change much, though, because it is still a maintenance issue.

Good luck!
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:58 AM on March 3, 2011

Best answer: I had similar issues with my (male) cat. At the time, he was eating a combination of dry and wet food. I tried switching his dry to a special urinary formula (I believe it was Wellness Indoor Health), but that seemed to make the problem worse. When I took him off dry food completely, the problem disappeared and never returned at all in the three years since. I would strongly suggest that you try feeding Prufrock a wet-only diet for a while and see if that helps. You may even want to sprinkle a little bit of water on the food for extra hydration, as I do with my guy's food.

My second piece of advice would be to actually not give her a food specifically formulated for cystitis/urinary tract health; often these foods are extra acidic in order to prevent crystals from developing in the bladder. The problem with this is that there are two types of crystals: one type thrives in an alkaline environment, and the other thrives in an acidic environment. If your cat has the second type of crystals, then special urinary food may actually be making the problem worse.

I encourage you to take a look at catinfo.org, and specifically at the section on urinary tract help. There is also information on the site about transitioning cats who are reluctant to eat wet food away from dry food. Good luck with your super cute kitty girl!
posted by kitty teeth at 7:31 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The next step diagnostically is probably referral to an Internal Medicine specialist and an ultrasound. You can probably get a consult and an ultrasound for $500ish, and then depending on the results, the specialist should be willing to discuss the costs/benefits of further testing and/or procedures. With urinary issues, there is a lot of stuff that is not going to be apparent in an x-ray -- ultrasound is much more effective.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:44 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since this is possibly related to something I've been reading about lately, I'll self-link to a post about MEMO (Multimodal Environmental Modification) and FIC — basically, some cats react to stress with inflammations of the bladder (and/or other problems, or exacerbations of other health problems), and MEMO is an approach for reducing those stressors.

I see that Prufrock's earlier UTI problem came at a stressful period (travelling and exposure to unfriendly strange cat), so I'm thinking that this might be an issue. Maybe you can ask your Vet about some sort of analgesic for pain in the short term?

Good luck! Let us know what you learn. I hope Prufrock is feeling better soon!
posted by taz at 4:40 AM on March 4, 2011

Response by poster: Wow! Thank you for all this fantastic information!

Pru has less blood in her urine now, and she doesn't seem to be straining in her box. I think I'll ask my vet for analgesics to keep on hand for the future.

I'm going to start switching her to a wet food diet, and I bought a Drinkwell fountain, so we'll see if that helps. She's not really a foodie so it's hard to entice her to get more moisture through her food.

I'll ask my vet about an ultrasound, which we should probably do if she keeps having flare-ups. I know he has a therapeutic laser, so I'll ask him about that too.

Pru says thanks too!
posted by apricot at 9:05 PM on March 4, 2011

Just some advice about Drinkwell fountains - they are fantastic, really help, but try to stay on top of the cleaning, as they can get rather grimy - bottle cleaning brushes will help. Also, you may need to play around with the flow output - some cats get freaked out if the flow is too heavy/slow/fast etc..
posted by analog at 8:51 AM on March 6, 2011

Response by poster: Just in case anyone checks this again...

Pru kept having problems with blood in her urine, so she had an ultrasound on Wednesday. They found a stone! She is going in for surgery next week. She seems more relaxed since then, as if she can sense that we figured out the problem and it's going to get fixed. Poor little bun.

She is still scared of the Drinkwell--and hasn't been drinking out of it at all!--but has been eating more wet food.
posted by apricot at 8:22 AM on March 25, 2011

The Drinkwell flow is adjustable - you could try making the flow less heavy to see if it scares her less. Hope she does well with the surgery!
posted by analog at 4:04 PM on March 26, 2011

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