Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Pet Self Diagnosis

Kitty Lover Art Print by nidhi

You may remember from a few months back the terrible urinary tract infection my cat Meeko suffered. It took a couple months to cure and even then I wasn't sure he was alright. By December I noticed the fur on his lower belly was getting thinner. I wasn't sure if this was a normal sign of aging or another health problem. This is the first cat I've had for more than a couple years so everything is a new experience for me.

By January the fur on my cat's belly was so thinned out I started to notice rough looking red spots where it was obvious he had been over licking. His hind legs were almost bare and the underside of his tail was flat too. I Googled his symptom and found it to be a common problem, though the cause isn't always the same. I decided I better take him to the vet to make sure he doesn't have some underlying heath issue related to the urinary tract infection, such as kidney stones. Yikes!

Apparently pet health care in a small town is pretty much undependable. The vet made me hold up my cat and used a flashlight so he could see his belly. He spent maybe 30 seconds looking at him and said, "It's probably allergies or stress related". I asked multiple times, "Are you sure it's not related to his urinary tract infection that he just got over?" 

"No, it's either stress or allergies. I'll give him an antihistamine. Do you want (named a stress relieving med that starts with V. I swear he said Valium though) to calm his stress?" 

I hesitantly allowed the doctor to give him a shot of antihistamine to see if it really was allergy related. I originally thought it might be since I bought what I thought was a natural cat litter and it turned out to be very highly scented, which can sometimes trigger an allergy, causing the excessive licking. The antihistamine would last 3 weeks which would rule out any possible allergy problem. I normally buy Swheat Scoop. That litter was Arm and Hammer with either corn or wheat.

And NO, I do not want to give my cat a stress reliever. He never had a problem before with stress so why would he now? 

The Self Diagnosis
I waited out the 3 weeks and saw no changes in his excessive licking. Knowing I'd be wasting my time and money taking him back to the local vet I did a little more research on urinary tract infections and found a holistic vet who offered a world of information on how to treat it. I learned urinary tract and bladder stones often lead to infection. The acidity of his urine would indicate if the conditions are right for either Struvite or Calcium Oxilate (CaO) Stones. So I went to Amazon and bought some urine pH test strips. You can test your cat using the spoon method used in the video Dr. Pierson has on her website

The first test I took I only got maybe 2 drops and he had blood in his urine, a major sign of stones. The second test I got enough to use a test strip and there was no sign of blood, however he wasn't peeing in a consistent stream. I got results in the very alkaline range of 7.5, indicating the conditions were right for Struvite Crystals and stones. If it were acidic I'd be worried because CaO stones can only be removed through surgery. Cats normally should be between 6.0-6.6, but normal depends on the cat and could be outside that range a little bit. A vet should be able to tell you what your cat's pH should be, but obviously I don't have that option.

Knowing his pH I was now able to properly treat the problem. I found a really helpful holistic website, Only Natural Pet, that lets you find products based on condition. I found 2 products with great reviews:

Tract-Ease Herbal Formula

Tract-Ease is great if your cat starts developing urinary tract infection symptoms. The reviewers noticed the bleeding had stopped almost immediately after using this product and cleared up the infection. I decided to buy this product just in case. Since I noticed blood in his urine I was afraid of having another infection scare.

Cranberry Wellness

Cranberry Wellness Powder raises the acidity of the urine to help dissolve stones. A little scoop is provided to measure the proper amount. One scoop is added to canned food twice a day for not more than 3 weeks and then no more than twice a week after that for maintenance.

I had been giving Meeko the Cranberry Wellness mixed in with a can of Wellness Canned Cat Food. I chose Wellness for its price and its claims for urinary tract health. It's also made with human grade meat and is grain free. Grains tend to mess with the natural pH if the urine, so I avoid those. Also, it is extremely important not feed your cat any fish based products when there are urinary tract issues. The high levels of phosphorous will only make a urinary tract infection worse.

I completed the 3 weeks of the treatment and I've noticed a huge improvement.  His fur is growing back and no longer feels rough where he had been licking. When he pees it's in a constant stream now. I will continue to give him the Cranberry Wellness twice a week until I'm sure his stones are cleared up. As much as I would like to give him canned food twice a day it is just too expensive for us right now so hopefully going back to dry won't be a problem (besides the twice a week powder treatment mixed with canned food).

For now at least I have a very happy kitty.

Fat Cat Original Illustration by MiKa

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you figured it out. I don't think I'd go back to that vet again.


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