A few weeks ago, in the midst of this crazy COVID quarantine, I had three kitties from different households all present with similar symptoms. Their owners brought them in because they all had cats with bloody urine, quite visibly.
One of these cats was named Marley, a 9-year-old male black domestic shorthair. He had never had any issues with his urinary tract before, so this was quite concerning. His mother, who is normally out of the house, was working from home, which was quite the change but certainly expected right now.
Marley’s physical exam was unremarkable. I took Xrays of his bladder which didn’t show any bladder stones, and with the assistance of ultrasound, I collected a urine sample and I sent the sample out for analysis, but I had a hunch I knew what it was.
How does a cat get blood in his urine for seemingly no reason?
There are other reasons for cats with bloody urine including bladder stones, infection, and even cancer but I was suspicious of a condition known commonly as sterile cystitis because it is not caused by a bacterial infection. This condition falls under an umbrella term of FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease.)
Marley’s urine sample, as well as the urine samples from the other two cats I saw that day, came back with some abnormalities that were consistent with inflammation, which can cause bloody urine.
We know that stress can cause or exacerbate inflammatory conditions in humans. When we get stressed, we might feel that as tension or a nervous stomach. For a lot of cats, this stress can affect their urinary tracts.
Cats don’t react well to change.
With all of us shifting our routines because of COVID19, our changes actually cause cats stress. Of course, we would all like to think that our pets are happier that we are home with them more, but because they are such creatures of habit it actually causes them a great deal of anxiety. I have also been seeing more cats with intestinal problems, and I believe this is another manifestation of stress affecting their digestive systems.
In this time of shifting routines or really any time there is any environmental change such as moving, vacation, adding to, or removing another person from the household, you may notice your own cat showing signs of illness or even behavioral changes. If this is the case, it is important to address those concerns with your veterinarian.
The happy ending
These kinds of changes can cause stress to your cat which then can incite an inflammatory reaction. If this happens with any regularity, you can supplement your cat’s diet with something to lower his anxiety level daily, as well as giving him more time to engage with you and providing toys that will stimulate his mind, something we call enrichment.
Based on my diagnosis of sterile cystitis, I treated Marley and the other two kitties with pain meds and anti-inflammatories and they were all back to normal within a few days. All three are doing very well since their episodes, and hopefully, they are adjusting to their new routines with their moms and dads.
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