Feline Cystitis: When Trouble at the Litter Box Is Serious

Feline cystitis refers to bladder inflammation. Sometimes, an underlying cause, such as an infection or bladder stones, leads to cystitis. More than 50% of cases, however, have no identifiable cause. These cases are called idiopathic cystitis. Although the cause of idiopathic cystitis is unknown, stress is thought to be a major contributing factor.

Although your cat’s life might appear blissful and stress-free, cats can experience anxiety for a number of unexpected reasons, including;

  • competition with housemates for resources (food, water, litter box and perches)
  • too few opportunities to express natural predatory behavior
  • inconsistencies (traveling parents, new pets or frequent house guests)
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What to Look for: Signs of Cystitis

Noticeable signs of cystitis occur when cats attempt to urinate. Cats with cystitis:

  • have difficulty urinating
  • strain to urinate
  • make frequent trips to the litter box
  • urinate in small volumes
  • have blood in urine

Cats with cystitis also might urinate outside of the litter box. This is often the first or only sign a pet parent will notice.

In male cats, cystitis can progress to create a complete blockage of the urinary tract. Blockages are painful, causing cats to vocalize and become lethargic. A completely blocked urinary tract is a medical emergency and can be fatal if left untreated.

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Treatment Options

Cystitis, especially in cases where patients become completely blocked, is extremely serious and can be fatal. Cats straining to urinate need immediate treatment.

In the cases when an underlying cause of cystitis is diagnosed, we treat the primary medical condition. For example, a urinary tract infection requires antibiotics and urinary stones often require surgical removal. In more frequent cases of idiopathic cystitis, treatment varies and focuses on reducing anxiety by removing potential stress factors and enriching your cat’s environment with:

  • increased access to perches and private spaces
  • additional litter boxes
  • increased playtime and interaction with pet parents
  • increased hydration from wet food and attractive water sources, such as fountains

Every cat is different and will respond differently to his or her environment and housemates. Depending on the patient, medications might also be prescribed to lessen the severity of side effects, including pain, inflammation, bladder and/or urethral spasms and to calm anxiety. If you notice any changes in your cat’s litter box habits, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a Pet Health veterinarian right away.


– Missie A.

Pet Health Hospital is a life saver. My poor cat was attacked by another cat and developed a terrible abscess on her little head. Dr. Pizzillo was the attending veterinarian who treated my BabyGir!!. She was able to get the situation under control before it became more serious. Dr. Pizzillo is compassionate and caring. She has a very calming way about her and put my worries at ease. The entire staff is very professional and welcoming. I am going to recommend Pet Health Hospital to anyone needing an excellent veterinarian. Thank you to all of you!!!!

– Jennifer C.

Pet Health has been a wonderful health care service for our baby – Gracie.  She has a very serious health issue arise – and Dr. Lewis texted on a regular basis to check on her, to see how things were progressing and to see if we needed any help.   I am very grateful for their genuine love and concern for our dog.  thank you!

– Mee F.

Love this vet! Clean and high tech! The entire staff was friendly and so loving to my dog! First time here and I have already recommended this place to all my friends! The vet even followed up with us as she said she would on the urine test.

– Adrian W.

Great place. We’ve been to many vets throughout our dogs 7 years life span. This is the best place we’ve been to so far. Dr. Renee Lewis has a great presence and our dog was surprisingly extremely calm around her (he like every other dog, don’t like vets..).

This clinic is not very pushy wanting to do ‘extra’ work to create a larger bill. 

Dr. Lewis also showed that she really cared and took her time to get to know our dog, and explaining everything after the surgery. 

I’m done with Veterinaries that only cares about profit and rush through the consultation because they’re overbooked!

The staff here are also very friendly and helpful. They made us feel welcome!

I highly recommend this place!


– Sarah W.

Pet Health Animal Hospital is simply amazing. We found Dr. B and his team shortly after adopting our first dog. Being new to the area, we were concerned with finding the right vet that cared about our dog as much as we did. Lucky enough, we walked right into the perfect vet. From overnight stays to surgeries, Dr B and his team make us feel so comfortable, put any concern at ease, and are masters of communication. There is never a question left unanswered, or an update left undelivered. The whole team knows our dogs when we walk in, and our dogs are always excited and sprinting to get into the vet to see them. I tell people all the time that my favorite part of living in Las Vegas is Pet Health Animal Hospital!

– Andrew G.

The doctors and assistants do an amazing job here. I wasn’t sure what to do with my Sasha so I brought her in fearing the worst. Dr. Jessica Pizzillo was simply the best. She was able to remove the growth the same day and at a fraction of the cost of other estimates I had received, all while putting my Sasha through the least amount of trauma possible.

The front desk staff was also very kind and understanding when it comes to stressful situations like this. Stephanie and the rest of the staff made me feel comfortable and were very professional.

– Scott H.

Absolutely incredible vet! The level of service and attention is the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere.