Feline Idiopathic Cystitis – Can a Full-Spectrum CBD Extract Help?
As more people turn to CBD for a safe alternative to their own medical issues, many pet parents are wondering whether CBD could help their pets as well. We get questions from pet parents every day, asking how CBD can help their pet, and we love sharing how CBD has the potential to help pets with many ailments! In fact, several studies in animals have shown that CBD does have a potentially important and diverse role in the veterinary office. Recently, we’ve had cat parents asking us, can CBD help feline idiopathic cystitis?
What is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis?
Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is the most common cause of feline lower urinary tract syndrome (FLUTS) in cats between the ages of 1 and 10. Although the disease process is not totally understood, what’s interesting is that the primary underlying stimulus for the disease is the internal feeling of stress or anxiety. This stress can be initiated by almost anything in a cat’s environment, but whatever the cause, this stress then leads to localized inflammation of the urinary tract, resulting in disruption of the normal protective barriers that exist there. The consequence of this is that urine and its waste contents have the opportunity to irritate the less protected bladder wall, resulting in pain, discomfort, and changes to urination behaviors.
How is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis Diagnosed?
It’s important to first note that FIC is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that all other potential causes for FLUTS must first be ruled out via diagnostic tests. Nonetheless, the most common signs pet parents may see at home with a cat developing a urinary tract condition include:
- Bloody urine
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating in inappropriate places
- Licking the urethra
- Vocalizing while urinating
- Complete inability to urinate (referred to as aurinary blockage) which is almost exclusively a male cat problem, but is always considered a medical emergency
Since FIC is a diagnosis of exclusion, it is always recommended to see your veterinarian when any of these signs are witnessed for 24 hours or longer. Your vet may then suggest to perform one or more diagnostics, including abdominal X-rays, a urinalysis, and in some cases, an abdominal ultrasound.in order to screen for and rule out other urinary tract conditions.
How is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis Treated?
Once your vet has come to the conclusion that FIC is the cause for a cat’s urinary tract signs, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms until the episode passes, and implementing ways in which the cat’s current lifestyle may be able to be altered in order to reduce the chances of future recurrence. HOWEVER, if you believe your cat has not urinated in a 24-hour period or longer, the one and only recommendation is to contact your veterinarian immediately, as this is considered a medical emergency.
Classically, antispasmodics, anti-inflammatories, and/or pain relievers have been the prescriptions of choice for this condition, meant to reduce discomfort and muscle spasms within the cat’s bladder and urethra.
However, a full-spectrum CBD extract may have the potential to address all of these symptoms and more, by reducing inflammation at the source, and enacting a balanced anxiolytic effect. Thus, CBD could be considered a safe addition to an FIC plan in the short-term, either alone or in conjunction with pharmaceuticals.
How Else Can I Help My Cat With FIC?
In addition, as mentioned above, the second component of FIC management is analyzing and adapting the cat’s environment in order to address stressful variables and eliminate them as best as possible. Some general recommendations to prevent future episodes include:
Decreasing stress —
Cats affected by FIC are thought to be extra sensitive to changes around them, so keep their environment as predictable as possible. Common FIC triggers include:
- Stress among the humans in the home
- A person or another pet (cat or dog) moving in or out
- Construction in or around the home
- New furniture or chemical fragrances
- Food changes
- Household schedule changes
- Visualization of other cats in the neighborhood
Environmental Enrichment —
Provide choices for your cat in terms of areas to play, rest, eat, and eliminate. Ways to manage your cat’s stress include:
- Hiding places — Cats need places where they can hide, to feel calm and secure. A cardboard box or a paper bag that will help them feel invisible will suffice.
- Playtime — In addition to providing exercise, playing with your cat releases beneficial neurotransmitters, which can keep them calm and happy. Try to have at least two play sessions per day.
- Food puzzle toys — Using a food puzzle toy to give your cat a meal or a treat will exercise their natural hunting skills, and keep them mentally engaged.
- Vertical territory — Cats enjoy viewing their environment from an elevated position. Providing adequate cat trees and perches will help ease tension, especially in a multi-cat environment.
- Litter box hygiene — Litter boxes should be cleaned frequently and placed in convenient locations. Provide at least one litter box per cat and one additional box, and ensure your cat can easily move around inside the box.
Diet modification —
One of the most important elements to address is your cat’s diet and water intake. Consistent hydration is crucial for cats with FIC, as dehydration results in more concentrated and caustic urine. Making sure cats are well hydrated throughout the day can be accomplished both through the diet and providing access to fresh water. Most whole food (raw or lightly cooked) diets have significantly higher normal amounts of water as compared to kibble. Kibble is a dehydrated, pro-inflammatory, carbohydrate rich food, all of which are less ideal for a cat with FIC.
In comparison, a trustworthy feline whole food diet should contain quality sources of meat which are kept as close to their natural form as possible, along with other natural added ingredients. If possible, try to offer your cat small amounts of one or several types of whole food diets, and see which one they start to enjoy. Once you find a diet they like, begin to gradually phase out the original processed diet over a period of 7-10 days. In addition, make sure your cat always has access to a fresh water source. Cat fountains of all shapes and sizes are quite common now and are a great option.
Supplementing with one or several additional compounds may further help reduce the chances of FIC recurrence. Some of these include:
- CBD – Full-spectrum CBD for cats is safe both short and long term when working with a reputable product, and may help alleviate the severity of daily stressors on your cat, some of which may remain unknown to us humans! CBD has been known to aid with both stress and inflammation, two root causes of FIC.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: omega-3s are long chain fatty acids which act as building blocks for the body to generate its own anti-inflammatory molecules. A healthy omega 3:6 ratio to aim for is 1:4 or lower
- Feliway pheromone products: Feliway is a company that creates products which are meant to help alleviate stress in cats. The products are sold as diffusers and sprays, and have been thought to be well-tolerated by cats and beneficial to reducing stress
So, Can CBD Help Feline Idiopathic Cystitis? Yes, the multitude of potentially positive properties a full-spectrum CBD extract offers makes it a highly viable option for feline idiopathic cystitis. When considering that the root causes for this condition are stress and inflammation, a properly vetted CBD product has the ability to attack this condition at the source, and could be hugely beneficial both in the immediate situation and consistently long-term.
As always, please be sure to first discuss this information with your primary care holistic or integrative veterinarian, as to make sure your cat is definitively thought to have FIC, and to propose any questions regarding the current treatment plan and the potential inclusion of CBD.
Related: The Benefits of CBD Oil for Cats