Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

So, what is FLUTD? FLUTD describes a variety of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra of cats. Here are a few of the symptoms:

  1. Urinating outside the litter box.

  2. Crying out while urinating.

  3. Excessive licking of the genital area.

  4. Straining to urinate.

  5. Blood in urine

  6. Frequent and/or prolonged attempts to urinate.

Your cat may show all or only a few of the above symptoms if they are suffering from FLUTD.

Carson had a full blown urethral obstruction. If your cat has a urethral obstruction they will show the above symptoms but will pass little or no urine and will become increasingly distressed. A urethral obstruction is an absolute emergency, requiring immediate veterinary treatment. In just a short time an untreated urethral obstruction will lead to acute renal failure & death.

Did you know outside of routine care, FLUTD is the number one reason pet owners take their cat to the veterinarian? Inappropriate urination is also the number one behavioral reason why cats are banished to shelters.

Carson had been showing a few symptoms of a UTI, but of course I was not educated on this condition and did not think anything was wrong with him. It started with frequent potty breaks and frequent cleaning of his genitals. I had actually been joking with my Mom about the frequency of his genital licking.

A few days later I caught him urinating on a towel. This was odd. The next day I caught him doing the same thing and straining. I thought he was constipated, but then he showed me he wasn't. So, the next morning he came and woke me up. He jumped on my stomach and if I'd move he'd scream. He slowly got off the bed and stretched out on his side and then his back on the floor. He was breathing hard, his body was trembling and he was in excruciating pain. I realized he needed help, and fast. It was a Sunday morning (of course) and the vets were closed so I called the emergency number and met a vet at the clinic. She immediately knew Carson had a blockage. When she felt his bladder she said it was the size of a plum. She told me she'd have to keep him there and insert a urinary catheter.

The next day the vet removed the catheter and kept him for observation. Carson was also placed on a prescription diet to help dissolve crystals that remained in his bladder. Carson will be on this food for the rest of his life to maintain his pH levels.

The next few days the vet would call with updates. Carson was experiencing bladder & genital spasms and was still having difficulty urinating. By Thursday I was told Carson was ready to come home.

I brought Carson home and he was still in a lot of pain. The next few days he didn't have much of an appetite but he was very thirsty--which I thought was a great sign! Cats with FLUTD need to drink a lot of water to continue to flush out their bladder. When Carson would try to urinate he would scream. Carson was also leaking fluid. I thought his bladder was just really weak. The day after I brought him home he vomited. I called the vet because I knew this was a bad sign. However, they put him on anti-vomit medicine. If your cat is suffering from FLUTD and is vomiting...TAKE THEM TO THE VET!

Easter came that Sunday and Carson did not move all day. I felt his ears and they were freezing. I tried to get him to walk but he was so weak his hind end would waver and he looked as though he was going to topple over. I knew Carson was going down hill quick. I called the emergency number again and rushed Carson to the vet.

The vet felt Carson's bladder and this time it was larger than a baseball. He had reblocked. He was also hypothermic and severely dehydrated. The vet believed there was a good chance Carson's kidney's had been compromised. He told me a catheter needed to be reinserted and the entire process Carson had undergone the week before would have to be performed again, which meant another $650. Going through the process again gave us no guarantee's, in fact the vet believed Carson's condition to be grave. Our other option--euthanizing him.

Well, euthanizing our baby just wasn't an option. We told the vet to do what he needed to do. He told us he would do blood work to determine the extent of damage done to Carson's kidney's and he would call us in a few hours.

A few hours passed and my phone rang, it was the doctor. The blood tests came back and the results were very poor. Carson's BUN level was off the charts. Science says that when a cat's BUN level gets that high at least 70% of their kidney function has already been lost. I was devastated. The vet said he would leave the catheter in until Tuesday and keep pumping fluids into Carson to try and get his kidneys functioning. On Tuesday he would redo the blood work to see if the results would improve at all.

Monday and Tuesday morning were some of the worst days of my life. My heart was broken at the thought of losing Carson. I was sick with anxiety waiting for the vet to call and tell me the fate of my friend. Either the results would improve and say Carson had a chance (by miracle) or he would tell me Carson's kidney's were ruined and he'd need to be put to sleep.

Finally---the phone rang. It was the doctor. The blood tests came back and Carson's results were absolutely NORMAL. What? Did he say normal? I'm not sure I'd ever been so happy in my life! Carson had a healthy appetite, was urinating on his own, drinking water and his kidney's worked! I had sent a hundred prayers up to God begging him to spare time with him couldn't be up. We had too many memories left to make with each other, too many lessons to learn from each other. My family, friends...people I'd never met all banned together to pray for this little spirit. And God answered the prayers. It was an absolute miracle.

Carson stayed at the vet until Thursday-again. That evening I picked him up, took him home and tried the whole thing over again. I watched him like a hawk! If he went to the litter box, I went to the litter box. Everyday he and I take field trips there and he shows me that he can still potty with no problem. The first day or two he still had discomfort while he urinated, and vocalized it. But each day he showed improvement. One day after the next he'd get more active.

Today, one week after he had come home the 2nd time, Carson has made what I believe to be almost a 100% recovery. He has a strong urine flow, strong appetite, he is back to jumping on the counters and being overly curious and active again.

So, what is Carson's prognosis? Cat's with FLUTD have a higher risk of recurrence and it is potentially a lifelong disease. However, I will do what I can to prevent it in the future. Possible prevention methods are:

  1. Increase water consumption — make sure the water is clean, fresh and available at all times

  2. Add low-sodium broth to food to increase fluid intake

  3. Feed several small meals during the day instead of 1 or 2 larger meals

  4. Decrease stress in the environment — provide scratching posts or kitty condos, as wells as schedule time during the day to play with your cat

  5. Have an adequate number of litter boxes (one more litter box than the number of cats) in the home, located away from noisy appliances

I believe Carson making it through this ordeal was a miracle. Science said his condition was grave--but when God is involved anything is possible and overcomeable. Miracles happen around us everyday...I am just aware of this one, and I am so grateful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


My name is Becka, I am pictured above with my feline friend, Carson. Carson is my inspiration for this blog.

Carson has been with my Husband and I for a year and a half now, though truly I believe he and I have been connected for much longer than that. Have you ever met someone and although you've only known each other for a brief time you feel like you've known them your entire life? This is how I describe my relationship with Carson.

In-spi-ra-tion: Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.

So, why is Carson my inspiration? The simplest reason is because of his unfaltering spirit. Can you imagine if humans were more like cats? The patience, confidence, dignity, persistence and absolute emotional honesty. We as humans are taught to hold back certain emotions or thoughts, so often lack patience and confidence and give up on things that seem too far from reach. Cats could teach us endless lessons if only we knew to watch and reflect upon what they demonstrate.

Recently, Carson has gone through quite the trial. He became very ill and had to be taken to the vet clinic after hours on the weekend. When the doctor told my Husband and I the condition Carson had I immediately started educating myself on the Internet. I can tell you that what I read did not give me relief. The information I read was terrifying and did not offer much hope. I read so many people's stories--and the outcome for Carson seemed grave. Now that Carson has made almost a 100% recovery I thought I should do my part and post Carson's story, so that he might cast a light of hope for another experiencing the same frightening situation.

My next post will tell Carson's battle with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), formerly known as feline urologic syndrome (FUS).