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Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

Posted May 01, 2015 in Cat Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is also referred to as feline interstitial cystitis. It is one of several medical issues that fall under the umbrella term of feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). FIC is a sterile inflammatory condition affecting the urinary bladder. This feline disease, in some ways, resembles the disorder referred to as interstitial cystitis in humans.

Cat hidingCause of feline idiopathic cystitis
The exact cause(s) of FIC remain uncertain. One theory suggests that the combination of decreased water intake, along with increased permeability of the bladder wall (which allows irritants to penetrate the lining of the bladder) set the stage for FIC to develop. Some examples of FIC triggers include:

Symptoms of feline idiopathic cystitis
Many cats with FIC have recurrent, or waxing and waning symptoms. The most common symptom observed is increased frequency of urination (pollakiuria). The most common symptom observed is increased frequency of urination (pollakiuria). The inflammatory process causes affected cats to repeatedly hop in and out of the litter box, while producing only a small amount of urine.

If the frequent attempts to void are producing no urine, it is important to consult with a veterinarian immediately. Some cats with inflammatory bladder disease produce crystals and other debris capable of forming an obstructive plug within the urethra (the narrow tube that leads from the bladder to the outside world). Other cats seems to display only functional obstruction, with pain and spasm, but no crystals or debris. A urethral obstruction causes an inability to pass urine and represents a true medical emergency. The longer and narrower urethral plumbing in male cats renders them more susceptible than females to an obstruction.

In addition to increased frequency of urination, symptoms associated with FIC often include:

  • Restlessness
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive licking at the penis or vulva
  • Urination in inappropriate places (outside of the litter box)
  • Vocalizing while urinating
Related symptoms: 

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Nancy has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified veterinary specialist in internal medicine as well as a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2014.