Monday, June 18, 2007

Litter Bug

I hardly slept last night because every time I heard anything that sounded remotely like a cat scratching in a litter box, I sprang to my feet and crept stealthily into the bathroom to see if Chico was having a recurrence. Once it turned out to be Ashley, once it was a cat on the scratching post, and twice it was Chico.

Then the two times that it was Chico, I had to see if he were producing a normal amount, and the way he's squeezing the muscles at the base of his that what he normally does or is he straining?

My paranoia is fueled by the discharge instructions from the animal hospital and the information on every web site I've been to saying if a male cat is blocked for more than a day he will explode from uremic poisoning. And it's further charged by the fact that I have to be at work and won't be back to check up on Chico until around six this evening.

My neighbor is home and she has a set of our keys, and I'm sure she'd be happy to check on him, but she would have to catch him at the exact moment that he's in the litter box having the problem. And it's not as if Chico can call me here at work and say "Get the vet! My teeth are singing Anchors Aweigh!"

So with no control over the situation, I've been resorting to the same superstitions I've used when I'm waiting for the results of a scan or a test. This afternoon I had to restrain myself from telling the cashier at Staples, "Wait! I have to put all my change back facing in the same direction or the cat will die!"

At any rate, I'm a careful owner and also, I'm not about to leave town for a day or two, so even if I caught him in the act this evening, there would be plenty of time to bring him back to the animal hospital. And Chico's a healthy cat--this is a condition, not a disease. As a last resort, there's an operation they can give him that, as the vet put it, "would turn him into a girl." It's not a pleasant thought, but it's there.

But no matter what they do to his plumbing, Chico will always be all lad.

I've had two male cats that had that operation, as a last resort. It's major surgery, but it does solve the problem once and for all.

Do they still do urinary acidifiers? A little 250-mg Vitamin C tablet a day will suffice. I don't know if it's still state-of-the-art.
They don't do the acidifiers anymore. They prescribe Hills C/D, and I brought home a few cans over the weekend. The vet wants him on it at least until his recheck in a few weeks.

We gave C/D to Phoebe for crystals back in 1998 and it made her all grey and snarly, so we tried a pinch of vitamin C powder added to her food. She never had another ocurrence. So I'll try it with Chico after I bring him in for his recheck.
I think they all prescribe those special foods because they get kickbacks. Cats hate them.

I just started using brands that stated their (low) percentage of magnesium and their awareness, at least, of "urinary tract health" on the label. Max Cat dry, for instance, has corn gluten in it, but they swear it's home-grown, not from China and that it's one of the ingredients that helps acidify the urine [??]. Cats LOVE it.

Naturally, any brand savvy enough to list magnesium content, canned or dry, is more expensive.
I was feeding them a very good food, Innova Evo. It's low magnesium and the label says, "When you can't feed raw, feed Evo." Very high in protein, no grains.

What I think may have caused the crystals is, I was mixing slippery elm bark powder into Ashley's food because she's always had a sensitive stomach, and eats enough hair when she's grooming to weave another entire cat no matter how much I brush her. And she hates Petromalt and Laxatone.

Chico started eating Ashley's food and I figured, slippery elm bark is pretty benign, couldn't hurt, so I started giving him some, too.

But I think I remember reading somewhere that it's mildly alkalizing, and Chico often pushes Ashley out of the way to eat her food as well as his, so slippery elm bark may not agree with him for some reason.

I asked my vet if this could be the cause, and she really didn't know very much about slippery elm bark. The young vet at the emergency hospital chirped "I don't know anything about Eastern medicine," as if I were mixing wing of bat and eye of newt in a cauldron.

Maybe I should find a way to get in touch with a vet we used several years ago who moved out of town. He had a good knowledge of herbal as well as allopathic remedies without being a granola head.
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