Monday, November 22, 2010

UTIs and How to Help Your Cat

Myrna as a playful kitten
 I mentioned earlier that one of Myrna's siblings, Bette Davis, had a UTI back in October. All the sisters (four of them) were exhibiting the same strange symptoms as Bette prior to Bette actually becoming sick. UTIs are not contagious so when all the cats begin to exhibit the same strange symptoms, there must be something that is external that is affecting them all.  When a patient with HCM is exhibiting symptoms of a UTI, it needs to be prevented before it blows up to where they might need medication. Medications for UTIs often include steroids, something an HCM patient cannot receive. 

We had been feeding them wet and dry food in the a.m., lunchtime, and evening, with dry food before bedtime.  We had also taken Jimmy Stewart to have his plaque laden teeth professionally cleaned (he doesn't eat dry food and that may have contributed to his plaque buildup as the others did not have plaque) and the doctor suggested we feed them Hills Prescription t/d, a dry cat food of large, round, dry pellets formulated to rub against the teeth and rub off the plaque. We began feeding it to them in July.  We weren't feeding them solely t/d but gave them about 4 pellets each with their dry Hills c/d cat food. Because some cats are dieting, in late September we decided to change their diets and to delete the wet food at lunch and to give them only dry food. 

Shortly after the diet change, we began to notice that all the girl siblings began to go to a litter box, sniff it and leave or get into it, walk around, and leave.  Eventually, they would go. We thought it was the litter. At that time, we had litter box issues with Jimmy and we weren't sure if there was anyone else involved. Now we weren't sure if the litter, which would smell after about a week or so (this even after three times a day cleaning-the actual litter would begin to smell) was turning them off or what was going on. We began to notice the boxes would from time to time be walked in (paw prints) but not being used. What was going on?

Then, October 15, as I was cleaning boxes in the a.m. just after we woke up, I noticed Bette going from box to box but not going.  She would sit for a couple of minutes but have no output. Well, I knew that was a UTI. We went to the vet and they put her on Clavamox but it didn't work. By Sunday night, she was frantically going on the floors and elsewhere. So, 9 p.m., off to the ER we went. They gave her Baytril, pain meds, and a sedative. By the next day, she was much improved and took her medication for the next ten days. There's been no recurrence.

So, again, what does this have to do with Myrna and HCM?  While discussing what had happened the previous weeks, the changes to the diet, the other cat's strange behavior, we hypothesized with the doctor that perhaps the introduction of t/d added too much dry food to their diet (I'm not sure of the t/d formulation and what about it could cause a UTI) when at the same time, we decreased the amount of wet food they were receiving.  Bette could also have inherited her mother's bladder cystisis (although it has not been officially diagnosed) which would make her susceptible to dietary changes which would affect the bladder.  Because all the girls were exhibiting the same strange behavior, and to avoid UTIs in all of them, and their output was getting smaller, the doctor recommended cutting out dry food for a week, feeding only wet, and feeding only Hills c/d wet to those who would eat it, and introducing more water into their wet food as well as by mouth.  I used a 3 cc syringe (sans needle) to give 3 ccs of water twice a day to the other six cats and 1 cc twice a day to Myrna.  Because she has HCM, she cannot receive too much fluid and not being sure how much she could receive and handle and how much would be necessary to flush out her system if she were indeed about to get a UTI, we thought 1 cc would suffice. I also added only a couple drops of water to her wet food for a couple of days while adding more than that to the wet food fed to the other six cats. 

This worked well.  After a couple of days, Myrna and the other girls began to exhibit less sniffing and walking in the boxes without going.  Their output eventually returned to normal.  After a week, all seemed normal. Bette's medications helped her recover.  After a week, we slowly reintroduced dry food. I now only use t/d as treats twice a day.

Lesson learned: HCM isn't the only illness that Myrna can get and all cats must be carefully monitored for UTIs. Any illness could affect Myrna negatively, causing stress to her body and necessitating the administration of medications that might adversely affect her condition.  Careful introduction of a bit of extra fluid helped her body flush out bacteria from her urinary tract. But just how much was difficult to say but being cautious and giving only a small amount was the best choice.

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