When I first realized Spike the Cat was coming to live back in 2008, I did what any self-respecting nerd does, which is I went to the library and tracked down a book on cats put out by the humane society. I like to be a good Girl Scout and be prepared should the worst happen, so I skimmed through the fuzzy warm chapters and took great pains to familiarize myself with the chapters on mishaps and medical emergencies.
So when I saw my cat straining and straining and straining in the litter box Tuesday afternoon I did not wait around, but called my vet who referred me to an emergency clinic. And our acquaintance with Feline Lower Uniary Tract Disease began.
FLUTD is a fairly common, potentially deadly thing that occurs when little crystals form in the bladder. These crystals can become stones, which can cause blockage or rupture of tubes, renal failure, total system collapse, et cetera. Cats aren’t very big, and the tubes in question are very small, so the distance between “normal cat” and “death” seems frighteningly small, in some cases maybe only a few days.
The crystals themselves probably don’t occur in every cat. From what I’ve gathered they seem to be caused by any number of things, but stress is a major trigger. And if your cat is the sort that gets a little worried when a pillow from the couch is knocked onto the floor and stays there for a day or two, (what?! Why is this like this? Will it be like this forever? What else has changed? Do all of the existing rules still stand? I’ll have to test each rule, one by one, to reestablish order,) you can see how removing the DESK and SCANNER and other ART STUDIO THINGS — items the primary cat-care-giver uses at all times of the day — leaves a giant hole in the tiny apartment. And in the mind of my cat.
Add to this my sudden routine change of being at home all hours of the day to spending hardly any time at home at all. From the cat’s point of view we may as well have moved EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE HOUSE into another building, and start living with STRANGERS, and TWO OTHER CATS. I shudder to think what happens when we really do that, here at the end of July.
FLUTD has no cure, but is mitigated through keeping the neurotic creature calm, keeping him under close surveillance, keeping him indoors, and putting him on special crystal-busting food.
I paid the vet a month’s wages to find all this out, and then armed with medications and the new food, we headed home for the Operation Monitor Urination phase of his illness. This turned out to be very, very trying.
Okay, that’s putting it mildly. It was hellish. It was utter futility and anguish. It was a cat who seemed to be dribbling pee no matter where he sat. On the furniture, on the wood floor, on the paper bag filled with paper to be recycled (?), on the bed, on his own bed, in front of the food bowl, in the laundry basket, and later on ME when he was trying to get some snuggle-comfort.
Misery was yesterday. In a dark apartment, on a hot day, stinking of cat’s urine, trying to pile objects onto the couch, chairs, and bed to dissuade him from being on them. Face swollen shut from hay fever (unrelated to all this, but an inconvenient nuisance, as on a bleak day this would be enough to make a person feel awful.) A bathtub filled with all the items that had been soiled and needed to be washed using the following formula:
[1/4 c of cider vinegar] + [regular detergent] = [no pee smell, clean items].
At once worried my cat might be near death, and trying to keep myself from wringing his foul neck with each new squat. Trying to work out WHERE on earth I was going to fold the laundry lest I risk further contamination. Hours and hours of this. All the while keeping the litter box as pristine as possible, as every other potty break was IN the proper receptacle, and we needed to see how much was being deposited.
Dawn is breaking on this our third day of Operation Monitor Urination, and it looks as though our vigilance has lead to victory. To my knowledge there has been no pee outside of the box since yesterday, so while we have not conquered it once and for all (for alas, it cannot be,) it is at least contained, and we are aware of it, and I am a little ashamed to have spent an entire blog entry just talking about cat’s urine, but that’s how it is with cat’s urine. It’s a rancid, foul thing that seeps into every crevice and has a way of lingering long after you thought you’d taken care of it. Let’s hope the same cannot be said of Spike’s overall health.