Errands, With a Cat (FLUTD)

We have two orange tabby cats in the house. Collins and Colby are brothers, the only two kittens in the litter. They're the same color, but they are very different. Colby is afraid of his own shadow and will hide under the couch for two days when we have company. Collins is king of the house, he's grumpy and he's FAT.

Symptoms of feline urinary tract infections.

He's significantly bigger than any of my cats, both indoors and outdoors. He rivals Garfield of comic-strip fame. I think he gets fat on air. He, Colby and Tink eat a quality dry cat food. I can't really cut down on Collins' food amounts because Colby and Tink have to eat too.

Over the weekend I realized that Collins was spending a lot of time in the litter box. I cleaned the box and kept an eye on things for the rest of the day. Not much was "happening". Monday morning I found urine tinged with blood in the bathtub.

I've had a lot of cats in my life, and I've done a lot of research on this particular topic over the years for articles for cat magazines; these are classic signs of a cat with a urinary tract infection.

Symptoms of feline urinary tract infections
Collins often investigates my projects; you've seen him in many photos.

Monday morning I called my vet and was given an appointment later in the day. I had errands that had to be done. There wouldn't be enough time to do those and come home for the cat before his appointment, so he went with me. We did an abbreviated version of the errands so that he didn't have to stay in the car alone, and arrived at the vet's office during their lunch break. I put the carrier under a tree and sat next to him to wait.

When the vet and his assistants returned from lunch, Collins was diagnosed with a UTI, just as I suspected. I'm supposed to give him half a pill every day. The vet warned me that the drug makes cats drool, and yes, it does. He also warned me that Collins will hate me before it's over, but Collins has never really been fond of me anyway.

This drug comes in both pills and liquid, and the vet said "pills are usually easier". I beg to differ. I wish I'd followed my gut instinct and asked for the liquid. Cats have teeth and don't like it when you try to push a bitter pill down their throats. After Collins spit it out twice the next morning, bloodied my hand with a claw and bit my fingers, I crushed the pill into a powder, added a bit of water, and syringed it into his mouth while containing the sharp parts of him in a bath towel. That was fun.

Symptoms of feline urinary tract infections
The original Grumpy Cat.

The vet asked me if we have rural water at home, if it's high in calcium, and if we drink it ourselves. I said I don't know if the calcium level is high, and that we filter the water that we drink. He suggested that we filter the cats' drinking water too. Calcium oxalate is one of the two most common minerals that cause feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

Although some cats show no symptoms, the usual signs of FLUTD are difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency, and blood in the urine. Some cats will urinate outside the litter box and often prefer a cool, smooth surface such as a tile floor or bathtub.

FLUTD occurs most often in middle-aged, overweight cats that get little exercise, use a litter box, have little or no access to the outdoors, and eat a dry diet. That describes Collins to a T.

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