I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, quite a while. I have 4 cats and a dog. Two of my cats are neutered males. One weekend when my oldest male was about a year old (he’s 5 now), started straining at the litter box and he would lick his privates after trying to urinate. I stood him up on his hind legs and found that his bladder was hard as a rock. I had recently gotten my youngest cat Tom. My older cat Pop was having an emotional crisis over it, he was sad. I called my vet and he met me at his office. He said that it was his bladder that I felt and his urine had crystalized. He had a blockage and had to catheterize him and drain his bladder. We found out that he could have died pretty quickly if we hadn’t got him there.
Fast forward 5 years. Last month we experienced a winter storm. Being in Deep East Texas, we only experience snow that sticks about once ever 7 years, so not often at all. It just never gets cold enough here for it to stick. This year we’ve experienced it twice. Once in January and then in February. We had just experienced our second snow about a week earlier. We went from beautiful snow to the temperature dropping in the teens and everything freezing. We had lost electricity for 8 days and water for about 6 of those days during that freeze. The lowest that it got in the house was about 43. So needless to say, it was stressful on the animals as well. When everything froze, trees started snapping. That’s one of the scariest things. My youngest cat, Tom, started displaying the same symptoms that Pop had experienced 5 years earlier. It was on a Sunday that I’d started noticing him straining at the litter box. I had changed vets about a year earlier for no good reason even though I’d been perfectly happy with my previous vet. Anyway, I called my new vet the next day, Monday, and told them that my cat had a urinary blockage so they told me bring him in. That morning, he was very responsive, non-lethargic, just uncomfortable and his bladder was still soft.
The vet ran some blood tests on him and called me to say that he had a blockage. I already knew that. They wanted to keep him for 3 days and give him the ‘best’ of treatment. They went from giving me a quote of $300 to almost $800. I about fell out. Having just gone through a winter storm and unable to work during that time because no one had electricity, I wasn’t getting an income for the previous week. The vet didn’t care. They weren’t willing to work with me, they just wanted money and they wanted most of it up front. They told me he was critical and they needed the money. I told them he was fine that morning, that my older cat had been through this previously and his bladder was like a rock, but this baby’s wasn’t that morning. The vet said it was when they examined him and he was now critical and they needed me to pay so they could start on him. Big red flag. I told them to just let me know how much my bill currently was and I’d pick my cat up. They charged me over $400 for the blood tests and they gave him a steroid shot. I didn’t think anything about the steroid shot at the time. I figured, they’re a vets office, they know what they’re doing. It was already in the late afternoon when I picked up my cat. They’d also told me that I should have him put down, that if he didn’t get better overnight to bring him back and put him down. I decided at that point that I’d never use them again. I called my former vet’s office since they’d previously treated Pop for the same thing. They told me that all of the vets were already gone for the day, but to bring him first thing the next morning.
It was a rough night, not knowing if my sweet boy was going to make it through the night. He was lethargic at that point. The next morning, he was sitting in the kitchen, not real responsive, but he was alive. I rushed him to my previous vet’s office and dropped him off. My former vet called me that morning and asked if the other vet had done blood tests on him, I told him they had so he got his blood tests from the other vet. He said his temp had been so low that it wouldn’t even register on the thermometer. They had to put him on a warmer to get his temp up to normal. He went ahead and ran a blood test on him and called me again. He asked why the other vet had given him a steroid shot. I had no idea, but he explained that Tom’s white blood cell count was skyrocketing along with his kidney levels which were way too high. He said he was very dehydrated so he started him on fluids and put a catheter in to drain his bladder. I told him that the previous vet had told me they didn’t completely drain his bladder, that they did leave some sludge in there.
My vet told me he needed to keep Tom on fluids and see if he could get his levels back down. He said he was very concerned about the steroids he’d been given. It was a long acting steroid and it took him several days to get it out of his system. I’d told my vet that the other vet had wanted to put Tom down. He said he wanted to try to actually help him and make sure he did what he could for him before we went that route. That was more of a last resort. He said he was very sick, but he wanted to help him. I knew he was in good hands. He ended up staying a week on an IV and catheter. The bill was only a couple of hundred dollars more than what the new vet had wanted to charge me for 3 days. My vet sent him home and said he was concerned about him blocking again, but he was doing much better. This was on a Friday when I picked him up.
That Sunday, I’d noticed that his tummy was so big that he looked like he was pregnant. I called my vet and he met me at his office. He said he was concerned about his bladder being ruptured, which he’d previously told me that it was a possibility, but wasn’t able to tell because Tom had so much swelling around his bladder. He checked Tom’s kidney levels and they were elevated again. He put him back on fluids because Tom hadn’t been eating or drinking and said he’d run a contrast on his bladder in the morning to check for a rupture. Sure enough, the next morning, he found a rupture and gave me the option of surgery, which would be the quickest recovery time and cheapest, or we could keep him on an IV and evaluate. I went with the surgery. He performed surgery on him the next day, he did find some dead tissue, but said cat’s bladders tend to heal pretty quick. He was concerned about the dead tissue because it was close to the neck of his bladder. Luckily, it took a few days, but he recovered. He was able to use the litter box once he took him off the catheter. I took him home and noticed that he still wasn’t eating or drinking.
I called my vet the next day and brought him in once more. My vet gave him a shot of vitamins that would make him thirsty and hungry. Luckily, he wasn’t dehydrated and sent him home. This was on a Friday. I got him home and Tom immediately started eating and then went to his water bowl afterwards. I was so relieved. He went in that Monday to have his stitches removed and then came in for a checkup 3 days later, he still didn’t have a steady stream when he’d urinate, just a fast drip. My vet put a catheter in and gave him some anti-spasm meds to help relax his urethra. So far so good, he’s got a stream when he urinates and has full mobility and a good amount of energy.
My point to all of this is that when choosing a vet, an internet search is not enough. You have to ask for recommendations from others as well. Had I done that, I would have found that many people had very bad experiences with the new vet I’d originally taken Tom to. They almost killed him. Luckily, my former, now permanent vet saved his life. My other point is to be prepared for urinary blockage as a possibility in male cats, especially neutered males. I still recommend neutering or spaying your cat if you don’t want kittens, but just be prepared. Urinary blockages are a lot more common than you’d think. Bottom line, find a reliable vet, one that you can trust and that actually cares about their patients and the care they receive and that don’t just care about the money.