If your cat is going outside of the litter box, it may signal a health issue. They could be suffering from feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), one of the main causes of inappropriate urination. 

Feline idiopathic cystitis signs

FIC can develop without any obvious underlying cause, and more than one unidentified, underlying condition that leads to FIC is possible. Cats with FIC will show signs that indicate an issue with their lower urinary tract system, including:

  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Urinating outside the litter box or in unusual places
  • Increased irritation or aggression
  • Overgrooming because of bladder pain

If you notice your cat struggling to urinate, contact us immediately. Male cats—and occasionally female cats—can develop a life-threatening urinary blockage.   

Feline idiopathic cystitis diagnosis

Since no diagnostic test can confirm that your cat is suffering from FIC, the diagnosis is made by ruling out other potential urinary conditions. To do that, we will examine a urine sample for the presence of red, white, and abnormal blood cells, bacteria, or crystals, and take X-rays to rule out urinary tract stones and bladder masses. An ultrasound of the entire urinary tract may also be indicated. Blood work is necessary to check kidney function and to search for other potential causes of urinary issues. 

Feline idiopathic cystitis treatment

With no definitive cause of FIC, treatment is challenging and focuses on encouraging frequent drinking and urination, reducing stress, and stimulating your pet mentally. Management measures include:

  • Investigating prescription urinary diets
  • Adding more litter boxes in various quiet places in your home
  • Providing a drinking fountain instead of a water dish
  • Switching from dry to canned food to increase water intake
  • Offering more drinking stations throughout your home
  • Reducing stress by:
    • Diffusing the Feliway pheromone in areas where your cat spends most of her time
    • Allowing daily outdoor activity in an enclosed run to provide mental stimulation
    • Offering scratching posts and climbing towers
    • Playing with your cat daily
    • Creating elevated perches for napping and observing
    • Avoiding household inter-cat conflict

Contact us if your cat is having litter box difficulties. We’re here to help!