I was drawn into doing research on cold, rainy weather conditions possibly causing cystitis in cats including indoor cats. If the cause of cystitis is cold weather but the connection is not made, veterinarians would call it idiopathic cystitis (cystitis without a known cause).
Today, on Yahoo! News there is an article about the mystery behind the causes of cystitis in domestic cats. But the article states something rather interesting which is that veterinarians in the UK have seen a sudden upturn in the number of cats presenting with cystitis and urinary tract problems. This is happening during January and February, two notoriously miserable and cold months.
They think it might be a coincidence but veterinarians around the country are seeing this which points to a definitive underlying cause.
And therefore, there is a belief by the author of this article, Alice Moore, a veterinarian at Castle Veterinary Clinic, Dorchester and Weymouth that the poor weather conditions may be causing cystitis in more than the usual number of domestic cats.
I decided to research this because it had never occurred to me before. I know that cystitis is often caused by stress. Of course, there are many reasons why a cat might be stressed. Might it be that domestic cats become stressed when they are cold? That’s a possibility but there is a more scientific connection between cold weather and a bladder infection (cystitis).
The Today’s Veterinary Practice website states that feline idiopathic cystitis might be caused by decreased physical activity due to cold weather or osteoarthritis. And there we have a link between cold weather and cystitis. Cold weather can cause decreased activity which in turn can cause decreased urine volume and urination frequency. I presume that this can result in static urine inside the urinary tract including the bladder which assists in the growth of bacteria and the bacteria causes inflammation and cystitis. Ironically, cystitis gives the impression to the cat’s owner that the cat is urinating more frequently as the symptom is drops of blood, sometimes bloody, on the carpet and in the bath.
I would like to turn to humans at this point because there is an interesting connection between cats and humans in this discussion. It is stated on the iD website that winter can cause urinary tract infections in people. In fact, they state that many studies have established a link between UTIs and cold weather. They call it cold-induced diuresis. The word “diuresis” means an increase or excessive production of urine.
The theory behind this is as follows. When the weather is cold the blood vessels near the skin constrict to preserve heat. There is extra blood flow to the internal organs. More blood flows to the kidneys. They end up producing more urine than normal. This creates an urge to urinate when it is cold. If you don’t hydrate through drinking more the kidneys won’t have enough fluids to filter waste. And therefore, the waste stays longer in the urinary tract system which can result in a bladder infection which is cystitis.
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To conclude, on this page I have described two possible reasons why cold weather can cause cystitis in both cats and people. The anatomy of cats and people is very similar and therefore it is perfectly valid to discuss humans and cats in respect of the same health condition. In both instances cold weather reduces the amount of urine passing through the bladder which then creates a medium in which bacteria can proliferate.
There is another point to make here. The price of gas and electricity in the UK is about to go up about 50%. This is a massive price hike and it is going to lead to people turning down the thermostat and keeping their homes colder to preserve gas. This may be the reason why there has been this sudden uptick in the number of cats presenting to veterinarians in the UK with cystitis.