Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

Overview of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) literally means an inflammation of the urinary bladder in cats of unknown origin. It is also called feline idiopathic lower urinary tract disease (FiLUTD), painful bladder syndrmoe (PBS) or feline urologic syndrome (FUS). FIC has been estimated to affect up to 1% of the cat population.

Despite many years of research, the cause of FIC remains unknown. Factors that may play a role in the development of FIC include viruses, type of diet fed (especially dry food diets with high mineral content), stress, confinement to a strictly indoor environment, and genetic factors (longhaired cats, for example, seem to be more commonly affected). Treatment often involves a change in diet from a dry food to a canned food and attempts to minimize stress in the animals environment.

It’s believed that accumulated inflammatory debris and mineral crystals may form a plug that obstructs the urethra of male cats resulting in a life-threatening medical emergency. FIC affects both male and female cats, but female cats rarely develop urinary tract obstruction because their urethra is shorter and wider than the urethra of male cats.

What To Watch For

These symptoms can be mistaken for constipation. Frequent unsuccessful attempts to urinate, distressed meowing while attempting to urinate, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and reluctance to move are symptoms that may signal urinary obstruction in a male cat and may constitute a medical emergency. Call your veterinarian immediately if you think your cat is showing these symptoms. Complete urinary obstruction can develop into a life-threatening emergency with 48 hours.

Veterinary Care

Diagnostic tests are needed to identify FIC and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

Additional diagnostic tests may be necessary to distinguish FIC from other diseases that cause lower urinary tract symptoms in cats such as bacterial urinary tract infection (rare in young to middle-aged cats), stones (also called calculi or uroliths), and tumors (rare in cats).

Additional tests may include

Treatment for FIC may include one or more of the following:

Home Care

At home, it is important that you allow free access to fresh clean water and provide a fresh, clean litterbox at all times. You should administer as directed any medications prescribed by your veterinarian and follow-up with your veterinarian for examinations and urinalysis.

If your pet does not respond to initial treatments, additional diagnostic evaluation and treatment is indicated.

Preventative Care

Since the exact cause of FIC is unknown, it may be difficult to prevent. However, you can do some of the following:

In-depth Information on Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in FIC. These conditions should be excluded before establishing a diagnosis of FIC.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm a diagnosis of FIC and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. The following diagnostic tests are often recommended:

Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests to exclude or diagnose other conditions that may cause urinary tract symptoms and to better understand the impact of FIC on your pet. These tests ensure optimal medical care and are selected on a case-by-case basis.

Additional Tests

Treatment In-depth

Treatment of FIC must be individualized based on the severity of the condition and other factors that must be analyzed by your veterinarian. Treatments may include:

Home Care of Cats with Idiopathic Cystitis

Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be crucial and includes the following: