Congratulations to Charcoal, our February Pet of the Month! Charcoal is a handsome,4 ½ year old domestic shorthair. Until this past summer, Charcoal was one of those fortunate cats that only had to come to the veterinarian once a year for vaccines, but due to some 4th of July fireworks celebrations all of that unfortunately changed.
Charcoal came in towards the end of July in 2013 because his owner noticed that he had been visiting the litter box frequently, growling as he left the box, and drinking much more water than normal. We always worry about male cats with these types of symptoms because in some cases they can get a urethral obstruction, which prevents them from urinating and can be life threatening. After a thorough exam, Dr. Sappington determined he did not have an obstruction. We ran several tests to try and determine the cause of Charcoal’s distress. A urinalysis was done first to check for signs of infection and crystals in the urine. Crystals can form in the bladder and are very irritating, but no crystals were found in Charcoals urine. There were also no signs of infection, but the urine was bloody which let us know something was definitely amiss. The next step was to do x-rays to check for bladder stones that could be irritating the bladder, but this was not the case. At this point, Dr. Sappington prescribed a pain medication to help alleviate any discomfort and to relax him. A change in diet was also prescribed, a canned prescription diet called c/d, to help increase his fluid intake and to dissolve any “struvite” stones or crystals that may not have been visible. Dr. Sappington also discussed other ways for Charcoal’s owner to increase his fluid intake to help flush out his bladder and asked him to monitor his urine output.
Charcoal’s condition was diagnosed as FLUTD or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. This diagnosis is made when all other possible causes of the symptoms have been ruled out. Many times FLUTD is brought on by stress and in Charcoal’s case, the neighbors’ fireworks celebrations were a definite trigger.
Within just a few days, Charcoal’s owner had to take him to the University of Missouri Veterinary Hospital on emergency because Charcoal’s symptoms seemed to be worsening and his owner was concerned that Charcoal’s urethra had been blocked. Luckily, Charcoal had not blocked, but the University did send Charcoal home another medication to help relax his urethra and let him urinate more easily. Over the next month Charcoal seemed to be doing much better, but towards the end of August Charcoal’s symptoms had returned due to some nearby construction noise that had caused him to become stressed again. After a couple rounds of pain medication and continued canned c/d, Charcoal did well until January 2014 when Charcoal had another relapse after having a stressful holiday season with many guests in and out of the house. This time Charcoal’s owner brought him in because he could no longer pass urine due to a urethral obstruction. We immediately took Charcoal into surgery to remove the obstruction and kept him on IV Fluids to help flush out his bladder during and after the surgery. We kept Charcoal for several days to make sure he could urinate on his own when he returned home. During this time we also ran blood panels to check his kidney function. When a cat has a urethral obstruction, pressure in the over-filled bladder pushes urine back to the kidneys, causing damage. Time and IV Fluids can help to reverse some of the damage to the kidneys, but if the urethral obstruction is not caught soon enough this damage can be permanent. Charcoal was sent home again with pain medication, a urethral relaxer, and some sedative to help keep him relaxed once he returned home. We also discussed the use of Feliway- a feel good synthetic pheromone to help decrease his chance of having another episode in the future.
We are happy to say that after lots of patience, dedication from Charcoal’s owner, continued use of Charcoal’s prescription c/d cat food, and with aide of the Feliway pheromone Charcoal seems to be back to normal! He is currently off all of his medications and we are hoping he will stay healthy (and stress free) in the future! Congratulations Charcoal!