Cats, and Christmas
Tis the season to deck the halls and it’s a wonderful time to be a mobile vet and take a peek at all the beautiful decorations our clients have in their homes.
Everywhere we go there are sparkly lights and Christmas trees and tinsel, with the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Lovely.
However, there is a well-known consequence in the veterinary world to all this seasonal decorating and it primarily affects our cats. It is a phenomenon known as stress cystitis; although it does occur throughout the year we see a surprising uptick in cases around Christmas.
Symptoms include straining to pass urine, going in and out of the litter tray without producing much urine or blood in the urine. Also over-grooming around the lower abdomen, and hiding away or crying in pain. Some cats even look as if they have been hit by a car, not using their hind legs.
In the most severe cases, and mostly in male cats, the bladder can become totally blocked and unable to pass urine. This is a medical emergency, extremely painful and needs immediate attention from your vet.
The triggers for stress cystitis at this time of year seem to coincide with the Christmas decorations going up, but can also occur at other times such as when the home is repainted, new furniture arrives or when a new baby is introduced, for example.
I’m not suggesting we should all stop decorating for the holidays – that’s not very festive – but there are a few things that can help your kitty to adjust to the holiday cheer.
Increase the amount of water your cat is having by adding a little to their meals. If your cat usually eats dry food only, add in some wet food around the Christmas period to help increase water intake. Make sure the litter trays are very clean, and empty waste products at least once daily. Keep an eye on the amount of urine your cat is producing daily and take note if it drops off at all. Plug a Feliway diffuser in to the room your tree is going in for at least one week before getting the tree, to help transition your cat. This will help to relax him and make the room more inviting.
If you are concerned at all, call your vet and talk through the symptoms of stress cystitis. If your cat is prone to cystitis, there are preventive medications that can be given to help reduce the occurrence. Have a happy and healthy holiday season from all of us at CedarTree Vets.
Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda