Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cat Crystals

The day we brought them home

We have two cats, which I was very hesitant to get.  My daughter wanted a kitten for quite some time, so we started thinking about getting one.  DH and I had cats when we were newly married.  I love cats, but I was not willing to deal with litter, vet bills, and such.  My daughter agreed to take care of the litter and I figured cats are somewhat low maintenance, so maybe we would get one.  It's a mistake to "just look" at kittens.  You will more than likely end up going home with one or two.

A kitten for a Christmas gift, we went to the animal shelter. One kitten stood out for the rest of the family;  a black and white female who would lick their fingers when they pet her.  But another kitten stood out for me and he was a little black one.  I never thought I would ever get a black cat, but he was so adorable I started thinking we should get two.  He just wanted to be held in my arms and would gnaw on my shiny jacket zipper.  When the female was put in her box, her paperwork was set on top of it.  The black kitten decided to jump onto her paperwork and start shredding it with his teeth.  We took it as a sign, he wanted to come home with us, too. :)  So that's how we ended up with two kittens.  One for each child, technically.  The funny thing is, humans may choose which cat they want, but the cats choose which human they like best.  My daughter named the female Chloe and my son named the male Enzo, after the ferrari.

A little over a year later.  Enzo reminds us of
Toothless on How to Train a Dragon

So now we have had these cats for a little over a year and even though we love them dearly, it has come at a cost, literally, with a year of good health in between.  I thought the cats would be low maintenance, but apparently my two have been quite costly.  First of all, we got the kittens from a shelter ($100 each) and were given a coupon for a free vet check and vaccinations for the first visit.  That first visit actually cost a couple hundred dollars because the vet said they needed this, that, and the other.  I think I was too shocked to say "no."  Two weeks after having the kittens, Chloe gets an infected eye, and back to the vet we go.  Several hundred dollars later, she has conjunctivitis and needs medicines.  It takes two months to heal and she doesn't like us too well because we are torturing her with  chasing her down, holding her tight, and putting gunk in her eyes.  Fortunately, she has forgiven us and is very sweet and affectionate.  She still doesn't like to be held too long for fear of getting something put in her eyes.  We are not sure what caused the conjunctivitis.  Maybe her eye got scratched when the cats were fighting. It also happened at the time  we changed the litter brand.  We started off with pellets, Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box System.  I don't recommend it.  Although, the urine passed through the pellets onto a pad, the stool doesn't get covered up very well and sticks to the pellets and their paws.  Plus, the stink is horrendous and I can smell it all the way downstairs from the upstairs bathroom.  Our classroom is right next to the bathroom as well, so we needed fresh air to breathe.  The pellets and the urine liners are pricey and constantly need to be replaced.  Washing the pellets doesn't work either, it's gross.  So we switched to Tidy Cats, which was very fragrant and dusty.  We wondered if that was possibly irritating her eyes, because they kept getting reinfected shortly after healing.  So more medicine!  We tried pellets again because they don't cause dust or irritation.  We used Feline Pine and it was fine for quite awhile.  We still had the issue of the stool sitting on top and not getting covered properly and the smell was not completely absorbed.  Some friends of ours hired DD to take care of their cats while they were away and I noticed the litter didn't smell bad.  They use Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Litter, so we decided to give it a try and see if Chloe's eyes would be affected.  This litter is a winner!!!  (They are not paying me to say that. :))  You do have to deal with the litter scattering all over the floor, like other litters.  (The pellets weren't too bad in that department)  But it clumps very well, does not bring up a cloud of dust, and most importantly, we don't smell the litter.  Chloe's eyes have been healthy for over a year now, although she gets dark gunk in the corner of her eyes every now and then.

Now, for the main point of this post.  Crystal in cat urine!!  Enzo has been a healthy cat this entire time, but now it's his turn to go to the vet.  One day my DD wanted to take a shower but the cat would not get out of his litter box.  We laughed at that thinking he just likes his litter and didn't think anything of it at that time.  The next day we saw him sitting funny on a guitar bag on the floor.  He looked like he was peeing, then laid down for a little bit like he wouldn't or couldn't move.  When he finally got up, I saw some drops of urine, but not a soggy spot.  I wondered if neutered cats spray.  Shortly, after that, my daughter comes downstairs to tell us we need to take Enzo to the vet.  She said, he is constantly in the litter box and looks like he's straining to pee.  Then I notice, he's been trying to pee in other spots. Gross!  Not on the carpet or floor directly, but if paper or cloth or something is on the floor, he will try to pee on that.  That's a sign of a possible uterine infection. He also likes to shred paper and cardboard and has also taken to shredding a pink foam noodle (for swimming pool).  My DD has found pink stuff in his stool.  So then I worried he might be clogged up with pink foam.  Time to throw that thing away!!


The vet says Enzo has crystals in his urine.  Crystals in a cat can be fatal.  It's almost like having stones in his bladder that if left untreated, would clog up his urethra.  Not only that, but it's very painful for the cat to try to pee.  I wanted to cry, I felt so bad for him.  But he's a tough little guy and never cried out.  I wish he would have though, so we would have know sooner.  As it is now, I don't know how long he has been suffering.  Probably just a few days, but a few days too long.  This vet visit cost us almost $300.  Not only that, but the vet says we need to feed him special food, which is way more costly than normal cat food.  At this point, I'm wondering if we can afford to keep the cat, but we love him too much and as a member of our family, we need to do what is best for him.  He'll probably need supplements or something for the rest of his life to keep the crystals from forming.  It just so happens that 1% of cats get this.  Our cat included!  And it's most common with neutered males.  Our cat included!

We dearly love our pets!  They bring us so much joy, but they can also be an unexpected expense.  You will definitely want to be sure, you can handle those expenses before deciding to get a pet.  It would be nice if we can include them in our health insurance plan.  They are family members aren't they???  At one time, my son said he wanted to be a vet and charge a low rate, so everyone  could afford to take care of their animals.  He's so sweet!!  Now he says he want to be a demolisher.  Go figure!

The signs to look for in a sick cat:
-frequently going to the litter box
-frequently licking their genital area-yuck
-peeing somewhere other than the litter box
-they might or might not cry out in pain (my cat didn't)
-blood in urine (my cat didn't)

Immediately take the cat to the vet.  If you wait too long, the crystals might become too big to expel, and surgery may be required.  Hopefully, Enzo won't need surgery.  We've been feeding them dry food, but now we have to feed them canned food because it's wetter and can prevent dehydration.  This will also help with the ph/alkalinity in their urine to help prevent crystals from forming.  I have also found a natural remedy, which I might try.  UTI-free  and Kidney Support  It's for animals with bladder problems and then some.  The vet says he needs to eat a certain brand of food, Hill's Prescription Diet, which is very costly.  Once we find out what kind of crystals Enzo has, then we can change the cat food to something cheaper.  Hopefully!  He is only a year and a half, so I don't know if he'll always have this problem or if something caused it, like the cat food we've been feeding him.

*Update-4-23:  My cat can pee now!!!  I can't believe I'm excited about cat pee.  Actually, he started feeling better a couple of days ago.  The only thing we've been doing for him right now is feeding him Hill's Prescription Diet C/D canned food and adding Cosequin to the food.  Cosequin is a supplement for joint support, but it also helps the bladder with coating the lining so the crystals don't hurt when they scrape against the bladder.  Cosequin on Amazon is more than half the cost from the vet, if you want it for maintenance.  He is also taking an antibiotic.  This is all we've done, it has helped him tremendously.  I'm looking into other canned foods because Hill's is pricey, but my cats love it.  A lot of people aren't happy with the ingredients though.

Hopefully, you have healthy pets and never need to worry about these things.   But if you have had these issues with your pets, what did you do to help them?

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