Every morning as I'm leaving for work, I give the cats, Bruce and Amelia, a kitty treat which keeps them from following me to the door. They look forward to it and on weekends often try to get me out of bed at 5:00 am so they can have their treat. Yesterday, when treat time came, only Amelia showed up. No Bruce. I thought perhaps he was playing in the living room, but a quick check showed that wasn't the case. I checked the bathroom and found him standing motionless in the litterbox. I waited a bit and he didn't move. Finally he turned and hopped out and ran into the kitchen to get his treat.
I could have chalked it up to weird cat behavior, but something about his posture troubled me, so I went to work, but all the way there I was thinking about Bruce's behavior and I decided it looked as if he was trying to urinate and couldn't. If that was the case I knew that would be bad, so when I got to work I ran a couple of google searches before clocking in. I kept coming up with the same thing, a condition called FLUTD, or feline lower urinary tract disease. Knowing how unreliable the internet can be, I checked several sites, but all seemed to agree. And all mentioned that the condition could be life threatening because the kidneys would, of course, eventually shut down if the cat couldn't process urine.
So I told my manager I was concerned about my cat and I took a half day of vacation and went home at 10:00. (I go in at 6:00). Bruce was dashing around the apartment like his usual crazy self, so I wondered if perhaps I was overreacting. Still I cleaned the litter box so I would be able to tell if he'd had any success using it. Several times over the next hour he attempted to use the litter box and couldn't. That was enough for me.
I called the vet and gave them his symptoms and they said, "How fast can you get him here?" I replied that I could leave as soon as I put down the phone. And I did.
They took Bruce in as soon as I got there and the doctor examined him and told me that his bladder was indeed very full and that they would have to use a catheter to drain it. Then she asked If I'd heard of FLUTD and I said, "Yes, crystalline formations in the urethra."
She told me that was exactly right and that they needed to get the urethra unblocked as quickly as possible. I told them to do whatever they needed to do. They took Bruce back to one of the operating rooms immediately, and while I filled out some paperwork, the doctor quizzed me on how I had noticed Bruce's symptoms. I told her basically what you've just read and she complimented me on being an observant and quick thinking pet owner. Vets tend to like people who are concerned about their pets. She also said that I'd caught it early and there wouldn't likely be any permanent damage, so Bruce's prognosis was very good. I didn't mention that at least part of my observation and deduction could probably be attributed to reading too much Sherlock Holmes.
Anyway, the 'unplugging' operation went fine, and Bruce was resting comfortably as of last night. He'll probably have to stay at the vet a couple of days while they make sure everything is working properly, so fingers crossed. I'll call the vet once they're open this morning and check on him. FLUTD is fairly common among male cats who have been neutered so hopefully Bruce will be fine, though I'll probably have to change his diet. I'll keep you posted.