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August 5th, 2010 [17 Comments]

The sweet sound of a peeing cat

by | Category: Feline Health

Dibbles, my loveThere’s a hierarchy of beautiful sounds.

It goes a little something like this: Andrea Bocelli’s voice, a golden harp strummed with expert skill, U2, a purring cat…and, at the pinnacle of auditory bliss, the sound of a cat peeing.

Dibbles my darlingAt least, that’s the my ears are loving today.

I don’t often write here about my own cats (well, other than Webster). But last night’s personal drama offered a lesson – and some beautiful “music” – that just might save another cat. In fact, if you only have a minute, please skip to the section in red below.

Central NJ, 7:00 pm: Gushy fud time for the unsinkable Dibbles, heart of my heart, tabby of my soul. With his Tender Chicken Feast successfully inhaled, Dibbles gets in his litter box. A few futile scratches and a brief squat later, he hops out.

8:30 pm: Dibbles and his sister, Pippa “Seven Pounds of Dynamite” Townsend, agree: it’s time to annihilate the feathery wand toy thing. But the hunt is brief, ’cause it’s time for Dibby to go back to the litter box and produce…nothing. I am now officially concerned.

Dibbles my heart10:00 pm: Why aren’t Dibs and Pippa and I watching Anderson Cooper as usual? Because Dibbles keeps going to that blasted litter box, then licking his posterior. I know what to do, but, being a Big Giant Dork, I decide to look on the internet for confirmation. Note: NEVER A GOOD IDEA. I decide, based on internet, that Dibbles is having a stroke, dying of Ebola and possibly also marrying Lindsay Lohan on Sarah Palin’s back porch hop over to this web-site.

Route 22 East, 11:00 pm: There’s a profusion of cops out snagging speeders tonight, but none of their sirens can compete with the wail of Dibbles. In the 40 minute ride to the emergency vet, my furious prayers do nothing to still his howls…or my own pounding heart.

Emergency vet, 12:00 am: Dr. NiceVet confirms The Scariness: Dibbles is blocked.

Depiction of a dangerously blocked male cat's urethra

Depiction of a dangerously blocked male cat's urethra

12:35 am: I just barely restrain myself from kissing Dr. NiceVet when he tells me he’s gotten Dibbles unblocked. His vet tech eagerly shows me a tube of Dibbles’ urine, pointing out the crystals that make it “look like a snow globe.” Crystals in earrings, goooood. Crystals in cat urine, not so much. I learn that Dibbles’ Fancy Feast days are over, but he can live long, happy and crystalless on a prescription diet.

Route 22 East, 1:15 am: Homeward bound. All the lights are green, all the songs on the radio are good, and all the saints and angels are singing in heaven, because Dibbles is OK.

Central NJ, 1:45 am: Forget saints and angels for a moment, because the real heavenly music has just begun: Dibbles is peeing freely. I thank my Mom, Jonathan, Danielle, and all my praying friends. I thank Dr. NiceVet. I thank the brilliant people who invented the prescription diet that will keep my love alive. I thank God with all my heart.

My baby Dibbles

Today I am a grateful, exhausted girl. But through it all, I’ve been haunted by the thought: what if I didn’t work at Tabby’s Place?

I wouldn’t know that an in-and-out-of-the-box cat was a Very Bad Thing.

I wouldn’t know that a non-peeing cat may mean a blocked cat.

And there’s a very real chance that I wouldn’t have my tabby angel alive and well today.

My beloved boy

So I write this saga as a sort of public service announcement. If a cat near you shows the following symptoms, please: do not stop, do not pass “go,” do not collect $200, go directly to the emergency vet:

  • Getting in and out of the litter box, with no urine produced
  • Straining to urinate (which may seem like straining to defecate)
  • Excessive licking of the urinary opening

These were Dibbles’ only symptoms. Before my tenure at Tabby’s Place, I would have just assumed my boy was constipated, and given him a gentle tummy rub to keep things moving. That wouldn’t have saved his life.

Knowledge is life-saving power – and, under the right circumstances, a peeing cat is a symphony. Here’s to many, many years of unblocked bliss for every cat we love.

Dibbles forever

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17 Responses to “The sweet sound of a peeing cat”

  1. Irene says:

    Along with all of the other wonderful qualities of Tabby’s Place, it is also a learning place for all that work or volunteer there. Thank goodness you knew how to help Dibbles. Give him a few scritches from our furmily.

  2. Bonnie says:

    Ooooooooo, Angela! Been there, done that (the emergency thing). Not fun. Poor beautiful Dibbles, if only we could teach people to speak cat! Word to the wise (which you ARE beyond your years), remember to collect that $200 (you’ll need it for Dr. NiceVet or to invest in pet health insurance), put your flashers on en route to the emergency vet’s and ALWAYS carry your U2 CDs with you – why take a chance on “bad” music! Long live Dibbles, Pippa, Webster (and all the TP 2 and 4-legged personnel) and Momma Townsend!

  3. Karen says:

    Oh, the wonderful-ness of happy endings — especially for this very special cat and his angelic Momma!!! Thank you, Angela, for educating all of us and most of all, for loving this exceptional boy…and under dire circumstances, still being able to write with your one-of-a-kind loving and entertaining style. And most of all — thank you, Dibbles, for not marrying Lindsay Lohan!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. mishale70 says:

    Thank God that Dibbles is okay!!!! You’re such a good momma to your fur babies. I’m glad you knew exactly what to do. Much love to you and Dibbles both!! Kiss him and Pippa and Webster for me.

  5. Pat Z says:

    Miracle #1: the true, fine love shared between mommy and baby – to insincitvely know when “something isn’t right” and to act quickly. Miracle #2: Getting in and out of the emergency vet in two hours 😮 You surely had the very good, top shelf, cat mojo on your side that night! And we all thank God it turned out the way it did. Thank you, Angela for sharing your story and reminding us how quickly things can turn – and how important it is to know what to do when they do. Blessings to you Mom, Dibbles, Pippa, Webs and all of the fortunate kitties that have the opportunity in this life to be loved and cherished – as they all should rightly be!

  6. nik11676 says:

    Yay Dibbles!!! 🙂 Glad you’re ok and in my humble opinion, I think you can do way better than Lindsay Lohan!! 🙂

    Thanks Angela for sharing this story!!! I have a kitty who often strains himself to poop and the vet suggested sprinkling the clear, non-flavored Metamucil in his food. No more straining 🙂

    How does a cat get crystals in his urine, and why does it mean no more Fancy Feast???

    • Angela says:

      LOL Nikki – I am in full agreement that Dibbles and Ms. Lohan are not a purrfect match. I do believe the nuptials are off for now. I’m grateful you and your vet have found such a great solution for your boy. I can just see the new tagline: Metamucil: Loved by cats and grandpas everywhere.

      As for your questions: I would highly recommend Franny Syufy’s excellent overview of FLUTD at http://cats.about.com/cs/healthissues/a/flutd.htm.

      Another good article can be found at http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2142&aid=2729.

      Also, Dr. Collins spoke to FLUTD with much more expertise than I’ll ever have in a previous Tabby’s Place newsletter – see page five at http://www.tabbysplace.org/newsletter/Newsletter-6.1.pdf.

      Crystals are also sometimes referred to as uroliths or bladder stones. Dibbles had struvite crystals, although there are other forms (such as oxalite). It’s my understanding that the major factors contributing to FLUTD with struvite crystals are urine PH level and water consumption. An alkaline urine is more likely to develop struvites, which can lead to a blocked cat.

      Alas, I don’t know that there’s any way to prevent the crystals from developing in the first place. I like to believe that, if ever a cat “should” have been spared such a diagnosis, it would have been Dibbles. I’ve fed him about 95% premium, holistic food, with the stuff at the “kitty crack” end of the spectrum just as a treat. His life has been low in stress and high in hugs, and he’s always seemed to get adequate water intake. It seems, based on my massive amounts of research and neurotic conversations with vets in the last two days, that two cats can have exactly the same food and water intake, habits, stress levels and lifestyle, and one will develop crystals while the other will not. Sigh. Just like people, so with cats, Special Needs generally emerge uninvited.

      As for the food question: Dibbles (or any cat with FLUTD) requires a special diet to discourage the formation of crystals, while also boosting water consumption. As akatklein pointed out, there may be non-prescription options. Based on my vet’s recommendation, I’m feeding Dibbles a prescription food that’s been designed to optimize his urine’s PH level and control his consumption of magnesium (one of the major building-blocks of those stupid struvites). This food has been clinically shown to reduce the recurrence of crystals. To help ensure that Dibbles is getting enough water, my vet has recommended that I feed him exclusively the canned variety, and mixing it with a bit of warm water (to make an “oatmeal” consistency). This is not to say that other cat foods (Fancy Feast etc.) are dangerous – just that they’re not doing Dibbles any favors in terms of preventing future blockages. Special FLUTD diets are designed to do just that.

      And, because I have to say this: I am not a vet, yadda yadda, and if anyone in the Felis Catus family has any concerns about your cat’s health, you should not take anything on this blog as a substitute for seeing your vet, stat. 🙂

  7. akatklein says:

    Woohooo! Glad Dibbles is OK Angela! PHEW!!! Good thing he has a smart fast acting Mom!
    (Side note on prescription diet – there are natural foods that can do the same things without using those “big company” ones. I started using one after my cat blocked, it’s has a lot of blueberries (I think that’s what it is) that is helpful with this situation. It’s Evolve, maintenance formula. I can’t say it’s the food for sure, but Gunner has never blocked again and that was 5 years ago. Ask around – I hate to support those “big company” foods with all that bad stuff in them 🙂

    • Angela says:

      Long live Gunner and his beautiful blueberries. 🙂 Thanks for the tip about Evolve, Kathryn. (And, I most definitely do understand your worries about “big company” foods.)

  8. beccamutt says:

    …and people think I’m crazy for watching my cats use the litter box! 🙂 I’m glad Dibbles is ok and I’m glad that there are cat mommies out there like you.

  9. Angela says:

    Dear ones, I can’t possibly thank you enough for all your support and love and Comments of Wonderfulness. My heart is overflowing with gratitude. I hope you know how much I love each of you. Rest assured that I have given Dibbles 80,000 skritches/kisses/hugs for each of you.

  10. jb says:

    I only had my cat a few months and he got UTI. I didn’t want to fed him Science Diet Prerscription Cat food. So I just bought low ash natural cat canned–2.0 and under. Also fed him Wysong Uretic Dry Cat food. He had the problem 3 times in the almost 9 years I had him. Today, someone suggested maybe the medication the vet gave my cat for his UTI caused him to develop cancer, I hope that person was wrong.

  11. mina says:

    We are so glad Dibbles is ok now! The Cat Who Came Before, Mina, had a lifelong problem with cystitis and needed the special food. Thankfully we only had one blocked issue.

  12. SuzanneD says:

    I’m very glad to hear Dibbles is better. What a gorgeous boy he is! In my opinion, there are few things scarier than an emergency vet visit.

  13. Carolina Cat Lover says:

    Angela, glad that your Dibbles is OK. As a cat owner I know that emergency vet visits are always feared. Many happy years together for the two of you.

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