cbd oil for cystitis in cats

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis – Can a Full-Spectrum CBD Extract Help?

As more people turn to CBD for a safe alternative to their 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.

For example, studies have shown that CBD can decrease seizure frequency in epileptic dogs, decrease pain in dogs suffering from arthritis, and reduce the severity of symptoms related to various skin conditions. What’s more, strong anecdotal evidence from dog and cat owners suggests CBD may help pets in numerous other ways, including decreasing inflammation, decreasing pain derived from other conditions outside of osteoarthritis, reducing the feeling of nausea, and reducing anxiety. Recently, we’ve had cat parents asking us, can CBD help feline idiopathic cystitis?

Table of Contents

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 treatment 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

Final Thoughts

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.

If you need more information on adding a CBD supplement for your pet, you can also book a one-on-one consultation with myself and CBD Dog Health founder, Angela Ardolino, and get a full health plan for your pet’s specific needs today!

Dr. Zac Pilossoph

Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a Long Island, NY born, nationally recognized veterinary medical professional, a top graduate of Tufts University Veterinary School of Medicine with post-graduate focused training in E/CC and Neurology/Neurosurgery at two of the most recognized programs in the country, and a young multidimensional serial entrepreneur, has rapidly and collaboratively helped promote a new wave of global evolution and individual empowerment in more ways than one. In addition to developing and launching several novel platforms in the veterinary and mental health fields, he is now quickly joining some of the most reputable leaders in the cannabis education and innovation space. Dr. Pilossoph is determined to synergize with colleagues, allowing evidence-based information to fuel a rapidly expanding industry. As one of the world’s most proactive cannabis-focused experts in his respective industry, Dr. Pilossoph provides tremendous value by delivering non-bias, harm reduction education, via both large-scale speaking engagements and individualized consultations, to the global cannabis pet and vet industry. Further, he is a Certified CBD Professional Educator through the CBD Training Academy and has started a nationally influential multi-tiered cannabis brokerage firm titled Excelsior Honour Associates. Lastly, he acts as a consultant for the CBD product space in order to impart as much quality, control, and consistency across the industry as much as possible. Ultimately, through candid education, fierce collaboration, and constructive evolution, Dr. Pilossoph is reversing stigmas and advancing the safe and effective consideration of cannabis into society, for all creatures on Earth.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease Diet & Home Treatment

To many of us in the field of veterinary medicine, the fact that cats (and dogs) are experiencing an increasing variety and frequency of chronic illnesses with each generation has become very troubling. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD – formerly known as Feline Urinary Syndrome, FUS) is one such disorder. This month’s newsletter is devoted to our feline friends as we are receiving an unprecedented amount of inquiries about what to feed a cat that has experienced one or more episodes of FLUTD.

You can find detailed information about the diagnoses and symptoms associated with FLUTD, by Wendy C. Brooks DVM, DABVP on VeterinaryPartner.com. To quote from the article:

“Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, is the term that describes the following group of clinical signs:

  • Bloody urine
  • Straining to urinate (can easily be mistaken for straining to defecate)
  • Urinating in unusual places
  • Urinary blockage (almost exclusively a male cat problem)
  • Licking the urinary opening (usually due to pain)

Some veterinarians may still be using the older term feline urologic syndrome, or FUS, or simply cystitis (meaning literally inflamed bladder). Because the syndrome can have many possible causes, it was renamed to discourage the perception that the clinical signs seen represent one disease with one cause. It was becoming too simple for medical professionals to diagnose FUS, prescribe a treatment, and look no further for a diagnosis, writing off recurrence to the classical course of the syndrome. Even less accurately, this condition is frequently referred to as a bladder infection, which it usually is not, in an attempt to simplify its description.”

Diagnosis is important, as there are various treatments and remedies to help with specific causes. Regardless of the cause of FLUTD, however, the basic remedies are the same for every cat: diet and hydration.

The Best Diet for Cats with FLUTD

Traditional veterinary treatment will often include prescription diets, many of which contain preservatives, fillers and insufficient nutrition. No cat should eat dry food as a large part of their diet, but for cats with FLUTD or who have had an episode of FLUTD, avoiding dry kibble becomes essential.

Cats eating a dry food diet have more concentrated urine and do not drink enough to compensate for the lack of moisture in their food. In addition, dry kibble contains too much grain and cats do not typically utilize the nutrients in grains well. Cats are carnivores — their systems are designed to digest and assimilate small prey like mice or birds – meat and organs, lots of moisture (about 70% – 90% water), and no grains except what is in those tiny little stomachs and digestive tracts. Mice are 40% protein, 50% fat and only 3% carbohydrate (grains are carbohydrates). A cat’s main protein source needs to be meat. Raw meat is ideal since this is the cat’s natural diet and their systems are uniquely designed to digest and assimilate the nutrients in a raw meat diet. Chewing chunks of raw meat also helps clean a cat’s teeth; contrary to what you may have heard, crunching dry kibble DOES NOT clean a cats teeth. Kibble breaks into small chunks that lodge between the teeth and create decay. (View raw meat diets for cats available at Only Natural Pet).

Some guardians are not comfortable with or cannot practically feed raw food. A high quality canned food will at least provide a meat based diet. Read the label carefully to determine that the food is mainly meat (see the article “What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Food”) and contains no fillers or meat by-products. You may be advised to look for a food low in ash or magnesium. Most all high quality canned foods qualify, including all of those sold at Only Natural Pet (View wet diets for cats available at Only Natural Pet).

Cats may become addicted to dry kibble and may resist the change to a canned or raw food diet. Go slowly – if your cat is used to “grazing” at will with a bowl of dry food left out all day, then start by feeding the kibble only two times per day, left out for an hour at the most. Next add a small amount of canned food to his dry food at each meal. Yes, you may have to try over a dozen varieties and flavors to get him started, but once a cat becomes more accustomed to eating canned he may become less finicky. Increase the amount of canned and/or raw gradually until dry kibble is a very small part of his diet. It is OK if he gets a little hungry during this transition period. Losing up to 5% of his body weight is not going to hurt him. If he loses up to 10%, then it is time to try another approach.

“No cat should eat dry food as a large part of their diet, but for cats with FLUTD or who have had an episode of FLUTD, avoiding dry kibble becomes essential..”

Hydrationfor Cats with FLUTD

The first step in increasing your cat’s hydration is changing from dry to raw or canned food. In addition to this it is important to encourage her to drink water. Cats are quite unique and individual in their preferences, so experiment and see what she prefers. Use different sizes and shapes of bowls in different locations – some like deeper bowls, some shallower, and some cats prefer not to drink near their food, etc. Many cats like running water. One of my own cats used to drink best out of the bathroom faucet left on at a fast drip. We finally bought him one of the kitty drinking fountains and put it on the counter next to the sink. He switched to the fountain over the course of a week or so and then we moved the fountain to a less obtrusive location.

If your cat remains stubborn about not drinking water, you can bribe her with a bit of unsalted broth or clam juice (not tuna) if need be and dilute it over time until she will drink water. Bottled or filtered water is best and will likely taste better to your cat as well.

Holistic & Home Treatment for Cats with FLUTD

In addition to diet and hydration, a variety of other holistic treatments can be helpful in treating FLUTD. Chinese herbs, western herbal combinations, nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies and acupuncture can be beneficial for FLUTD, depending on the cause and specific symptoms. Some of these are available at Only Natural Pet Store as listed below. Please ask for assistance in choosing supplements if you do not have the guidance of a holistically trained veterinarian.