FLUTD: Urinary Problems in Male Cats

This weekend, I decided to sleep late. Louie came into the room and gave me some snuggles. I got up, cleaned the litter boxes, and watched Louie be the first to use the big one, not uncommon for him to want to be the primo pee-er after a scooping. Then he used the kitchen one. Then he went back to the big one. This was concerning.

The Louie in question.

I crept up on him and saw that he was only getting a few drops of urine out at a time. I’ve seen Pinkle do this, but Pinkle is a female and there is less risk of blockage (though I do still call the vet and treat her when it occurs). In male cats, it may only be a few hours before their urethra gets blocked and they go into kidney failure. I called my vet.

Since it was Saturday, both vets I keep on hand were closing soon. Neither would see him. They said it might turn out to be a hospitalization and he was going to have to go to the ER. And so, we packed the little guy up (me and “the dude”) and drove him to the ER in Indiana. Slightly farther but better care. (This is where I discovered the Humane Indiana Resale shop I wrote about in my minimalism post)

After a brief exam (his bladder was small and not hard), they concluded that he was not yet blocked, but that he did have blood in his urine and was at risk of blocking in the next few weeks.

Señor Pantalones has been stressing Louie out with his extra energy, high-speed attacks, so I needed to minimize this since stress could be a cause of idiopathic FLUTD in young cats (Idiopathic being there is no known cause). I was told to keep Louie stress-free (a tall order for a former feral) and hydrated.

Knowing that my blogger friend Connie over at Tails from the Foster Kittens has had this experience several times with her similarly-furred friend Jack, I reached out to her to find some possible solutions. She asked him what his urine pH was. Well, I had no idea so I called the emergency vet. They said it was 5. Normal is 6.0 – 6.5. So, too acidic. It seems that could have been caused by diet, except Louie is on a raw diet, high in protein, which should balance his urine pH appropriately. I did notice his fur was a bit flaky lately and Connie mentioned it could also be caused by dehydration. I noted that I had given him some extra dry food the last two days in a row. Perhaps that was it, since that seemed to be what caused it for Pinkle on her last occurrence. Connie also suggested Corn Silk, something I hadn’t heard of prior. Upon some research, it seems it is used to calm irritated bladders, as a mild diuretic, and to stop dogs from wetting the bed. I grabbed some from Amazon for a few dollars. The vet also recommended Cosequin, also available from Amazon, for slightly more dollars.

So far, Louie seems to be doing ok. He did not want to be sequestered, but I did keep Pants away from him while I wasn’t there to supervise. He’s been getting his corn silk and soup for meals (I like Honest Kitchen Prowl with extra water added) and making me feed him by hand. I am also giving him extra helpings of Answers raw Goat’s Milk. It’s their favorite.

The vet told me to look for signs of blockage that include yowling, pain, lying on his side, lethargy, or a hard bladder. Seeing as he’s been playing tag with he laser pointer, I’ll assume he is OK for now.

And, per usual, my favorite vet Dr. C. called us on Tuesday to make sure Louie is ok and doesn’t need further help. (If you find a vet like this, keep her.)

If your cats, male or female, are showing signs of distress in the litter box and it has never happened before, it’s worth a call to your vet, especially if your cat is a male. It could be a serious emergency. I am not a vet and do not play one on TV, either. Please always consult your vet about anything you read here before trying it out on your pets.

Love and Healthy Pee,

Alana.

Further reading:

Tails from the Foster Kitten’s piece of Jack and struvite blockage

AVMA article on FLUTD

An Honest Kitchen piece on natural urinary remedies

(This article was not sponsored by anyone. Any brands mentioned here are mentioned because we use and like them.)

Minimalism, Pets, and Finding Freedom

You Guys!

Mom is giving away all our stuff! Please help. I need my stuff.

Love,

Mrs. Peabody

Just kidding. Mrs. Peabody didn’t say that because I don’t know of any cat that “needs” stuff. Sure, we have some really cute toys here: reindeer from Christmas, a little lobster that Louie doesn’t play with much anymore, a blanket made by my grandma to keep Mrs. P warm when she was a baby. How many of these emotions placed upon these items, though, are the cats’? And how many are just mine?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the things I have in my life. I look around at my house and, though it’s tidy, I sometimes feel weighed down by the number of objects that are in it. Every object requires care, even if I don’t really care about it. I add water to my piano humidifier system (five minutes), I dust the shelves but have to move fifteen knick knacks first and then put them back (fours minutes), I need to vacuum but have to move the screen that’s on the carpet to shield the twenty cat toys on the rug (45 seconds). The more I started realizing that items are not just passive things that sit around, but that they require monetary investment followed by time, upkeep, and energy, the more I wanted to pare down. I want to keep only the items that are worth my time.

This minimalism concept has been growing in my thoughts for awhile. Recently, I was offered a job in Los Angeles. A dream job, really, but for several reasons, I turned it down. One of those reasons was that I had no idea how I would fit me, six animals, and all my stuff into a small enough place that I could actually afford. And right then, the seed of “why” was planted. Shortly after I made that decision, I watched a documentary called “The Minimalists,” about two friends who gave up their high-paying jobs, put all their things in boxes, and kept what they needed. Going forward, they brought into their lives only what had value, whether that be a necessary tool for their craft (a laptop) or more time with their loved ones. Searching further, I found their website and read more about their journey and ideas. I recommend spending some time there, if you have it.

In their account, they decided to pack up everything they owned and only keep what they used in ten days. I will admit that I’m not going to go that far, but I am looking at everything and asking “why?” Why am I keeping this? Why do I need this? I’m also wondering “Can this benefit someone else?” and “Can this do more good elsewhere?”

Louie taking advantage of the donation box.

So, I started small. I found a pair of earrings I never wear, given to me as a gift by a student over a decade ago. I gave them to a current student who recently had her ears pierced and the smile on her face was absolutely worth it. Then I tackled the five boxes of books in my attic. I used to have a room full of shelves. I called it my library and I dreamt of the day I would have that again. But now, it doesn’t suit my lifestyle. I opened the boxes and pulled out just the books I loved, ones I have read more than once and may read again. I kept those. The others went into the neighborhood library box on my street, some will be sold, and many I will donate. I find that it’s easier to donate when you have a good cause. Since my cause is almost always animal-related, I’ve decided to donate to the Humane Indiana Resale shop. Everything they sell benefits their rescue work for homeless pets. Suddenly, giving away that rarely used panini press doesn’t seem so painful.

Thus far, I have thrown out one full trash bag and one full recycling bin, given away roughly fifty other items, and have two full boxes ready to donate. Clearly, I will NOT be giving away my animals, but I CAN give myself permission to give away a few of their unnecessary items.  Giving feels good. It’s lightening my burden and making me nicer to people. I already see some of the benefits and I’m not even halfway finished with part one.

With Love,

Alana.

P.S. As I was writing this, I heard the sounds of Pinkle opening the pet toy drawer behind the couch.  She crawled in, and out of all the thirty or so toys in that drawer, she found the one little wooly ball that she loves best, and she brought it to me to play. And that is the one we will keep.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Feral Cats Warm: The Saga of “Fish Tank Cat”

Dear Readers,

While I haven’t written extensively about it yet, I have set up a feral cat sanctuary in my little city barn. It’s old, it has windows I can leave open yet secure, and with its loft space and lots of hiding places, I figured it would be ideal for cats. I had two come live with me, one of which found another spot to hang out down the block and is only here part time (See: Calliope) and another that found my couch (See: Senor Pantalones)

The lazy quitter.

The hard worker still doing her job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During winter prep of the backyard, I moved the yard furniture into the barn and rearranged a few things. I have an old fishtank in there that got left behind. Since it was doing nothing, I opened up the lid and stuffed in a blanket in case Calliope wanted to nap. Recently, I came into the barn and, upon looking into the fish tank, noted a pair of yellow eyes looking back at me. It seems that another cat picked up on the scent of “Cats Welcome” emanating from the barn and, during the extremely low temps we’ve had the last few weeks here in Chicago, decided to seek warmth in the fish tank. He is now known as “Fish Tank Cat.”

While fish tanks are not known as the best of feral cat shelters, I figured that it would be easier to amend his current situation rather than oust him entirely if that’s what he liked. There are feral shelters in the barn but he seemed to gravitate toward the fish tank, clearly because cats love fish (or so they would have us believe).

A home only a cat could love. Look REALLY close and you’ll see Fish Tank Cat in the window.

I noticed, upon further inspection while he was away, that his little breath was creating an icy fog on the inside of the tank. In order to help him stay warm in the negative temps, I ordered some emergency mylar blankets from Amazon. Sadly, they did not arrive quick enough to thwart the ever dropping temps, so I improvised. I found some mylar shiny wrapping paper in the attic and lined the tank with that. Festive, crinkly, warm. Next, I stuffed his comforter back in and lined the sides with additional bed sheets I have set aside for needy cats (as opposed to the self-made cats who have it all). Finally, I put a thick rug over the top halfway to help him keep in some heat yet let him enter and exit with ease. Voila: A makeshift cat shelter.

Now, if you want to actually make a cat shelter, you can get one of those thick Rubbermaid Tubs with a lid. Line that bad boy with some foam board insulation from the hardware store and stuff it with straw (not hay) and, after cutting a door on the front, you now have a cozy feral home. Alley Cat Allies also shows you a variety of homes, both purchased and homemade here.

One of my feral tubs. TOASTY!

Fish Tank Cat comes and goes like a wraith. He only allows me to approach on my knees, bearing the gifts of water and wet food. I can’t get a good look at him because he prefers to wait outside the window while his waitstaff services his accommodations, so he may need some TNR in the future. For now, I’ll just keep him warm and fed.

 

Love,

Alana.