Last week’s Thursday photography post was derailed by my favourite model tabby cat Toulouse. Drama and a trip to the vet followed because the darned cat got a UTI!
I hope this post will be helpful for beginner cat owners and those whose cat has never been diagnosed with a Urinary Tract Infection known as a UTI for short. This was a learning exerience for me as the worst we have coped with recently, as a cat family, have been flea allergies, abcesses and scratches.
Know Your Cat’s ‘Normal’
I heard this suggestion from a vet at a cat health seminar here in New Zealand several years ago. He suggested that if you know what your cat’s day to day, normal life and habits are then any change in this will make you sit up and take notice. It was this that made me realise that we had a problem on our hands.
You know, better than anyone, your cat’s moods and behaviour. You quickly learn their likes and dislikes. We can all identify with responses like ‘That expensive cat food? No thanks…’ or ‘All I want is one more Churu pleeeeeze’. Without you realising it, over time your cat’s actions and reactions, foibles and quirks become part of your daily life. They are your cat’s ‘normal’ when life is good.
It’s when things deviate from this ‘normal’ baseline you have a valuable (and free) indication that something might be wrong. Let me relate this to our boy Toulouse to give you an idea of how a change might feel and look.
A bladder infection (often called a UTI or cystitis), is a bacterial infection inside the bladder. Bladder infections are usually occur if there is another medical problem present affecting the urinary tract (i.e. bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, etc.,). They rarely develop without an underlying cause and for this reason, if your cat develops a UTI your vet will check for other problems as well.
Realising Something is Wrong
For us, Toulouse has never yowled in the night. Scampers and zoomies yes, sad cries definitely not happened before. Another indicator was his listless behaviour. Our tabby is usually a vibrant and sparky pesonality who chatters, which is his own ‘normal’. Yowls are definitely out of character.
I saw Toulouse sat in the litter tray as I walked into the room. I thought nothing of it until I realised five minutes later that he was stlll there. A faint alarm bell rang but he seemed OK hopping out of the little tray leaving a very small damp patch. He then hurried out into the garden ready to play with his best friend who lives next door, or so I thought.
Later I spotted him in a corner of the garden squatting, again for too long, before getting up and walking a short distance. He flopped down looking glum and subdued. A second alarm bell and I began to be a bit concerned, thinking Toulouse might be constipated, or have a tummy upset.
He came in for a treat which gave me the chance to do a quick body check, running my hands along his body for anything unusual like a swelling, a bite mark or scratch but found nothing.
If one or several of the organs in your cat’s digestive tract become inflamed, they will experience digestive discomfort and their food could be irritating their system….. [Common Cat Digestive Problems)
Toulouse seemed to be happy in himself as the day went on, he wanted supper and enjoyed a few treats before bedtime.
But things became a little more serious overnight.
Twice during the night Toulouse yowled rather sadly and I gave him one of his favourite Puree Kisses with .4 of Meloxicam. At this point cat dad and I decided we needed to call the vet when they opened the following morning. This was very out of character.
- For anyone who has not dealt with an unfamiliar infection of any kind, working out what is wrong with expert help is essential.
Cats Hide Their Symptoms
For less experienced cat owners, remember cats are great at pretending they are well, even if they are in pain.
Cats are resilient and astonishingly good at hiding any kind of discomfort. This is a cause of frustration for every cat lover not just new cat families .
Something is Wrong But What?
I rang the veterinary surgery and explained Toulouse’s symptoms and behaviour. They immediately asked us to bring him down and leave him at the surgery for the day for observation and treatment.
I realised that Toulouse was not well but I had no idea what was wrong and, at this early stage, it could have been a bladder infection or ‘poop’ issue. I have included a quote/link on basic digestive issues, in case your cat goes the ‘poop route’, as well as a link from a trusted British site that briefly outlines urinary problems in cats.
- TIP If you are in any doubt about your cat’s health, don’t Google symptoms and panic about what you might read. Contact your vet for advice you can trust and a diagnosis you can work with.
A Vet Visit and Toulouse Diagnosis
As with our visit, yours will begin with an examination of your cat and the vet will take note of any thing you can report. If worries about ‘what’ and ‘when’ details vanish from your mind make a note or add it to a smartphone note app like I did for Toulouse:
- cat spent a long time in the litter tray – Thu
- not sure if its a pee or poop thing
- can’t feel and bumps or scratches
- Unhappy yowling in night – Thu night
It turned out that Toulouse was blocked and could not pee. He was sedated and the blockage removed. After the very quick surgery he was put on a drip to hydrate him.
Toulouse was collected later in the afternoon by cat dad and brought home. He was happy to be back in familiar surroundings but did not really settle until I arrived home from teaching a student and made a gentle fuss on our ‘poor boy’.
To help recovery, the vet recommend that Toulouse be put on a restricted diet of urinary food (Royal Canin and Hill’s) for at least the next six weeks when he has his next check up. From here we only have to convince him that urinary food is the world’s best cat food….
If you are in any doubt about your cat and a possible health issue contact your veterinarian. If we’d have left Toulouse a day or more his discomfort would have got much worse. Imagine not being able to go to the toilet, much as you wanted to,
Never dismiss a niggling worry about something new or unfamiliar. Your cat will thank you, even if they hate going to the vet.
Cat Health Online Support
If your diagnosis is something more challenging than Toulouse’s bladder problems you will find that there are established groups and web sites online. Never be afraid to ask for help.
Some are whole web sites devoted to feline medical conditions as well as Facebook (FB) groups. FB groups have a lot of cat owners who pool knowledge, experience and support.