It’s a distressing discovery when you come upon a bedsheet, a favorite shirt, or even a spot on the rug that your cat has peed on. Why is your cat missing the litter box? Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is one of the most common causes of inappropriate urination. What is it, and how is it treated? 

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:

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

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:

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

Is your cat going outside of the litter box? Contact us to schedule an appointment.