Friday, October 17, 2014

A Medical Emergency (FLUTD): Caring for Critters

Many of you know that Carmine is a special needs kitty with several chronic health conditions.  Today, we are participating in the Caring for Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like A Dog.  Throughout this round robin, pet owners have been sharing their experiences of injury, illness, and other health concerns.

A Medical Emergency

On April 12, 2009, I was getting ready to go to a friend's home to enjoy Easter dinner.  While I was getting ready, I noticed Carmine go into his litter box.  I didn't think anything of it, of course.

However, over the course of the next 15 to 20 minutes, I kept hearing Carmine get in and out of the litter box, so I decided it was time to go investigate what he was doing.  I watched as he got into his litter box, squatted, and noting came out.  He got out of his box again, walked around for a minute, and then got back into the box again.  He squatted again, and nothing came out.  I watched him do this a few more times and became very worried about him.  I knew this was a very bad situation.

When my friend showed up a few minutes later, I told her what Carmine had been doing.  I called the emergency vet and let them know that Carmine couldn't urinate.  The only question they asked me was if Carmine was a male cat.  I told them he was, and they replied that I needed to bring him in right away as this situation was a life-threatening medical emergency.

So we got Carmine into a carrier and headed off to the nearest veterinary hospital.  I was really anxious and worried about my baby.  Carmine was 4 years old at the time, and I was afraid I was going to lose him that day.

After what seemed like an eternity, the vet came out to the waiting room and told me that Carmine's bladder was inflamed, but he did not have a urethral obstruction.  She also let me know that he probably had a urinary tract infection.  She told me they were going to collect blood and urine from him to determine what medications to put him on.  At this point, I could breathe a little easier knowing that my kitty would probably be okay.  It's the urethral obstruction that is the most dangerous in these situations.  When a urethral obstruction occurs, the kidneys can't maintain an appropriate balance of electrolytes and fluids in the body or remove toxins from the blood.  Sadly, if the urethra isn't unblocked in time, the kitty will lose consciousness and pass away.

Diagnosis & Treatment

After about another hour, the vet came back out to talk to me again.  She said that Carmine has Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).  She told me they had found struvite (magnesium phosphate) crystals in his bladder.  The plan was to treat Carmine with the antibiotic, Clavamox, for his possible urinary tract infection and an anti-inflammatory pain killer to reduce the inflammation and pain in his urinary tract.  She told me that I'd need to see my regular vet for a long-term treatment plan.

When we got home, I immediately started researching to find out how I could best help my precious baby.  I read that many kitties with FLUTD begin urinating outside the litter box because they associate the litter box with pain, so I began praising Carmine every time he urinated in his box.

For the next two days, I watched Carmine like a hawk.  Every single time he went to the litter box, I followed him to make sure he was able to urinate.  The pain medication the emergency vet gave him made him very sleepy.  Carmine hid under my dresser much of the time for the next few days, and I checked on him often.

When our vet opened on Tuesday (our vet is only open Tuesdays through Fridays), I called them to see what the next step was.  They told me I needed to pick up some special food and more medication for Carmine.

On Wednesday, I went to the vet's office where they gave me more pain medication in case Carmine had any recurrences.  They also gave me Hill's Prescription c/d dry and canned food.  The vet tech told me that Carmine would need to eat this prescription diet for the rest of his life; the diet dissolves struvite crystals and helps prevent recurrences of FLUTD symptoms.

Carmine enjoyed his prescription c/d dry food, but he refused to eat the canned version.  In addition to his prescription dry food, Carmine has been eating canned Friskies Special Diet (for urinary tract health) and Pro Plan Urinary Tract formula for the past five years.

Approximately a year ago, Carmine developed Irritable Bowel Disease and was losing a lot of weight as a result.  Our vet and I decided to switch Carmine's prescription diet to Royal Canin SO because it is tastier for kitties, and we wanted to encourage him to eat more.  Carmine loves the prescription Royal Canin dry food, and he was even willing to eat the canned version.  However, he began getting red dots on his head, so we think he may be allergic to the canned food (we started the dry and canned foods several months apart and he had no reaction to the dry food).

Water intake is an essential part of managing FLUTD.  Unfortunately, Carmine has never been much of a drinker.  I began mixing a little extra water into his wet food daily to increase his water intake.  About a year ago, when I adopted Jewel, I bought a fountain for her to enjoy.  Carmine definitely likes drinking out of the fountain!  I wish I had bought one much sooner.

Stress can lead to recurrences of FLUTD symptoms, so I've had to work hard at keeping my home as stress-free as possible.  Carmine is a very sensitive mancat, and his connection to me is very strong.  Therefore, I have to work hard at keeping my life stress-free as well.  For approximately the past year, I've been using Sentry calming collars on Carmine, which really seem to help his stress levels, too.

Where Is He Now?

Carmine has done very well on his urinary tract diet for the past five years.  Though he has developed other chronic conditions, he has had no recurrences of FLUTD, and I'm very happy and thankful for that.  

Thank you for allowing me to share Carmine's story with you.  You can see all Caring for Critters posts on the Community Page HERE.  Please join Cascadian Nomads on Tuesday October 21st for another Caring for Critters post!


  1. We all love you Carmine and hope all is well with you pal!

  2. We were so happy to hear Carmine hasn't had FLUTD for quite a while and hope he remains free from it.
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

  3. We have followed along with a few good friends who have the same FLUTD that Carmine has suffered from - and so we understand the pain and fear and frustration a human can have for their babies as they go through this. We're so very glad Carmine hasn't had to deal with that again! And oh boy do we know IBD, too. Hugs to you, and thanks so much for sharing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this post helped another cat owner recognize the FLUTD symptoms? Well worth your time to share and write about it!!

  4. That was very interesting! As I am a kitty that does his business outside, the human can't always tell if I have problems! She watches me like a hawk! I am so glad Carmine is doing so well xox

  5. Its good you caught carmines symptoms early,I wonder how many others would have,its the with people how have Bunnies most don't realise their bunny is sick as they tend to keep them outside,where if you keep them indoors but let them have running around time outside you pick up on these things more quickly,xx Rachel

  6. What a good thing you caught Carmine's FLUTD problem so quickly! We are all female cats here, and this is something that is not as prevalent with us girls... not that my human doesn't keep an eye on us!

  7. It is so good you got him to the ER vet right away. Good move on your part. What a beautiful boy he is too. Hope all goes well with him.,

  8. We haven't evfur had issues like that...but its good to know what to be watchful about.

    Glad Carmine is doing so well.

  9. Oh Carmine you're so lucky your Mom is so "tuned into" you and saw your problem and got help for you right away. Let's hope all of those painful times are behind you - you're eating good food to manage your medical issues and you've got Mom on your side too! Stay healthy Carmine.......sending hugs.


  10. We're glad Carmine is doing well ; he's lucky that you were quick to catch his problem ! Purrs

  11. Carmine, we are so happy to hear that you are doing so well. It must have been very scary for your mommy when she first found out you were sick. We are sorry you all had to go through that, but are so thankful you got through it and that you are happy and successfully managing your condition. Sending lots of love!

  12. I was very interested in reading this. Our very first kitty had this back before they had all these special foods and we had to give him medication everyday. We are feeding Hill's Feline C/D now due to problems Lisbeth has had. Now the entire gang turns their nose up at any other dry food. I too use calming collars on the more anxious of the cats and find they keep disagreements between the cats to a minimum. Right now we are having peeing outside the box and will pretty much have to have everybody checked out as we don't know who it is. The joys of a multicast household! Thanks for this post. Hugs, Janet