Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kitty Update and Thanks

Hi Guys,

OK, first of all I wanted to thank everybody for all of your kind comments on my last post. Sorry I didn't respond individually - I was a bit overwhelmed.

Long story short, Jasper managed to avoid surgery for his urinary blockage - but just by the skin of his little pee-pee. He ended up spending a total of about 10 days in the kitty hospital, and while he's not back to normal yet, he's been home for about three weeks, and is much improved. He's still sporting a crazy haircut from where they shaved him for IVs and blood draws, but he's getting back to his normal little self.

The whole process was somewhat nerve-wracking because his status just kept changing from hour to hour. It would look like he was getting better, then he'd take a turn for the worse. They had surgery scheduled three different times, but then each time about an hour before the surgery he'd manage to pass a bit of urine and they'd call it off again. It didn't help that he kept chewing his way out of both IVs and catheters despite the cone of shame, and each time they'd call me (usually at around 3 in the morning) for permission to re-insert whatever he'd pulled out. I can't help but think that all of those re-insertions of the catheter helped to add to the cycle of inflammation that's made it so hard for him to recover.

They ended up breaking that cycle by putting him on a whole slew of drugs - anti spasmodics, muscle relaxants, and pain killers. When they finally decided it was safe to send him home with careful monitoring, he was so doped up that he could hardly walk, and I seriously thought that I might lose him simply from all of the downers he was on. I was soooo thankful when he was finally off of all the drugs.

So we still have a litter box in the middle of the living room - which I'm not thrilled about.

But it does make it easier to monitor his peeing, plus it did prevent him from having any accidents on the rugs or furniture. Hopefully as he continues to improve, we'll be able to move it out of the living room and eventually get back to normal with all the litter boxes in the basement.

The other part of this little adventure that we've been dealing with is diet. The vets want him on a prescription diet. Now, I know there are mixed opinions out there on these sorts of diets - some folks say that since the prescription foods contain byproducts, it's better to just feed them an all wet food diet of premium canned and raw foods. But, since that's basically the diet he was on (except for a small amount of his brother's dry food which he'd eat if I let his bowl get empty) when all of this started, I'm following the vets' advice and going prescription. It took a while to find one that he would eat (Science Diet is blick, according to Jasper) but fortunately he likes the Royal Canin Urinary SO (but only the paté - the chunks are yucky.)

The more challenging aspect of feeding has actually been Jasper's brother Smoky. The vets said it would be fine for Smoky to eat the prescription food, but he won't go anywhere near the stuff. Have I mentioned that the Smokster is the pickiest eater on the planet? It's virtually impossible to get him to eat anything but dry food, and even there he's ridiculously picky. In fairness to the little guy, I think he has some dietary sensitivities, because when I offer him something new he usually eats it happily and then barfs it all up a few hours later.

Sooo… this is sort complicated, but Smoky's favorite brand, Evo, recently was discontinued and we'd been searching around for a replacement. The one he decided he'd eat was Blue Buffalo. That's all well and good EXCEPT that when the vets interviewed me about Jasper's diet they said they'd seen a huge incidence of urinary blockages in cats eating... you guessed it, Blue Buffalo! Oy!!!

So I had decided to take Smoky off of the Blue Buffalo since I didn't want to risk any more problems - and we'd found another brand that he would eat... which was working OK while Jasper was at the hospital. But as soon as Jasper came home, instead of being happy to see his brother, Smoky became utterly convinced that Jasper had been replaced with some evil zombified replica, and he refused to go anywhere near him.

And of course, I couldn't leave Smoky's food out because I couldn't risk Jasper eating any of it. So the little Smokster was decidedly unhappy about the situation, and he basically went on a 4 day hunger strike. Seriously, I could not get that boy to eat ANYTHING, even solid white albacore, which is his favorite treat. I was really starting to worry that I might have to haul him off to the vet too. So finally, in desperation, I tried (you guessed it) Blue Buffalo, and he happily started eating again. Whew.

But... the situation was still really difficult because Smoky is a nibbler, and every time he'd get hungry he'd have to cry for me to put food out, and then I'd have to stand there and watch him eat, and take the food up as soon as he was done... and this was like every 2-3 hours including throughout the night. Oy.

Then CatMan found a brilliant techno-solution. Believe it or not, there's a company called Sure Petcare that makes feeders for this exact situation. It's actually rather amazing, but they have this contraption that scans the cat's microchip, and will only open the bowl for approved pets. I really didn't think it would work, but amazingly it did!

Here's Smoky happily eating out of his feeder.

He still won't put his front paws on the little mat where they're supposed to go, but he doesn't seem to mind stretching a bit to get to his food. The thing wasn't cheap, but compared to the $8000 we just spent on Jasper's hospital stay, it was a bargain!

So.... my plan is to slowly start adding small amounts of a vet approved brand of dry food to Smoky's Blue Buffalo and see how he tolerates it. I'm really thankful that he's not the one that has to be on a prescription diet, because that would be almost impossible.

Anyhow, that's the news from the funny farm. Hope you're all happy and well, and enjoying the waning days of summer.


  1. I'm assuming that Jasper had some kind of blockage. We went through that with our cat, Lucky. I can't remember all of the details, but he was only in the hospital for a couple of days but then was on a lot of meds like you describe until things settled down. He was on the same food that you picture and is actually still on it. I didn't have the fancy feeder, so I was feeding Lucky in one room and the other three in another room. They were always trying to sneak to get the other's food. It took a lot of effort to make it all work.

    Advance several years, Lucky was doing great and I got more lax about the feeding and pretended not to see as they were sneaking each other's food. Then it happened again. Lucky got a blockage and was back in surgery to resolve it. After that, they all got the same food and luckily, they would eat it.

    Now Lucky is a very skinny, 18 year old cat. We know that his health is failing, but he is still demanding and likes to purr on our laps. He seems happy with life and we are enjoying every day that we get with him. I hope Jasper lives as long and as happy as Lucky.

    BTW, in my area, I have found that Petsmart is cheaper than the vet's office for the food and occasionally they will have $5-10 off the next purchase. However, Chewy is usually cheaper than Petsmart, but you have to order a certain amount to get free shipping. There's not great variation in price, so sometimes I go with what is convenient.

    1. You are correct, Jasper had a urinary blockage. I suppose I should have clarified - just assuming the whole world is as wrapped up in my problems as I am!

      It's good to hear that cats can be problem free with the right diet, and I really hope it works out that way for Jasper. It's all a little bit odd though, because they never really found any evidence of crystals in his urine, and my vet says it's highly unusual for this problem to suddenly appear at age 9. I dunno… maybe he was eating more of Smoky's Blue Buffalo than I realized and that caused it?

      Anyhow, thanks for the tips on buying the food. I got the first few cans from the vet and then bought some on Amazon - which was actually really expensive, but there were some issues getting a prescription that PetSmart would accept, so it was the only option since the vet was low on supply. But now I've got it sorted out to buy the food at PetSmart. (My browser keeps capitalizing the S and I can't make it stop!!!) I'll have to check out Chewy and see how their prices compare.

      I got a few bags of the prescription dry food (both the Science Diet and Royal Canin) - which Jasper has only really picked at, but today I did see Smoky eating some of it. So maybe we'll arrive at a happy medium where Smoky can have a combination of both prescription and regular food.

      Anyhow, thanks for the moral support, it's really encouraging to hear that Lucky has enjoyed such a long and happy life. Hopefully you'll get to have him around for a few more years yet. Hugs...

  2. I'm glad to hear that Jasper is on the mend and without having undergone the surgery. Every good wish for his future good health and for Smoky as well.

    1. Thanks so much. I'm really grateful to have my little snuggle kitty back!

  3. As I was reading, I was about to text my sister and ask for the link for that bowl. She bought it a few years ago for her senior cat who was on a mostly home-cooked diet, and it worked out really well.

    I'm glad Jasper is home and doing reasonably well, and didn't have to have surgery.

    Did your vet mention anything about trying to increase their water consumption? That always seems to be a big thing with urinary issues. The pet fountains are great for that. For some reason they seem to drink a lot more when there's a fountain involved.

    1. I still can't get over the microchip bowl - it seems sorta like space age technology to me.

      We're trying everything in the book to get Jasper to drink more... or drink at all - he's just really not into it. We have a fountain, but neither cat seems interested. I've also got water in all sorts of different containers all over the house. Haven't seen Jasper take a sip, but Smoky is loving getting to drink out of human cups - I think he feels like he's getting away with something. I keep trying to think of other ways to encourage Jasper to drink, but he just doesn't seem interested. I might try mixing a little water in with his food, but in the past this has turned him off from eating, so I'm going to proceed with caution.

      It's all so ironic, because since Smoky is the dry food fanatic, he's the one I've always worried about with this sort of thing. Guess it just goes to show you that you never know...

    2. It's so brilliant, too.

      I'm trying to think of some of the tings we've done over the years to get cats to drink more. Leaving the bathroom sink dripping has worked well, leaving a little water in the bottom of the tub has worked, too. When my dog, Emma, was nearing the end and wouldn't eat, someone suggested dishes out of different materials; glass, plastic, metal to see if one worked better. Maybe different types of material for water dishes?

      What is it with cats? It's always the one who the "special" stuff isn't for who MUST have it. We switched Caroline from kitten to regular cat food months ago, but Frankie is still convinced her food is better, even though it's exactly the same food we give him.

      At least you know Smoky is very well hydrated now.

    3. I think the main issue with Jasper is that he just isn't thirsty! When he first came home from the hospital, they had him on the prescription Science Diet - which he really didn't like, so he was eating mostly the dry instead of the canned... and he was actually drinking at that point. But once he discovered the Royal Canin canned food, he's gone back to his normal behavior - ie: eating almost exclusively canned food and refusing to drink. So I dunno. All else being equal, I think it's probably better for him to eat the canned food and not drink than to eat dry and drink. Anyhow... I might try adding a bit of tuna or chicken juice to some water as a treat, but somehow I'm doubtful. If I could find a way to create butter flavored water I think he'd lap it up in a heartbeat!

  4. Glad your feline problems are slowly getting resolved. I'm not sure I would have been as patient as you are!

    1. Hahahah... I think that might be the first and only time anyone has referred to me as patient! Can you really call it patience when you have no other choice? Well anyhow, I'll graciously accept the compliment even if I don't deserve it. :-)

  5. So glad to see that Jasper is home, albeit with some missing fur! My boy cats will eat anything, though Tinkerbell refuses to eat cans of meat and will only eat the dry food (I give them meat for breakfast and dry in the evening). She sounds like Smokey in that when she does eat meat she often throws it up again immediately. This means that she only really eats properly once a day, but she seems to be a good weight (maybe on the tubby side sometimes!) so I’m not worrying about it too much..

    The microchip feeding bowl sounds magical- luckily at dinner time I have no need for such a thing because they all scoff everything in one go!

    1. Ahhhh… you must have cats who actually eat on demand. This probably means you're not as big of a pushover as I am, and that you have the discipline to stick to an actual feeding schedule. I fear all of my cats know that all they have to do is stare at me with a forlorn look in their eye, and I'll jump up and fix them some food. Putty in their paws... that's what I am.

  6. It’s easier to stay strong when they deploy the ‘irritating miaow’ rather than ‘cute sad face’ tactic, as the mewing is annoying!
    They only really started eating the dry food all in one go once they got nicer, better quality stuff- and I realised that if I just left it about for them to snack on they would get really fat! So they had to have an evening meal rather than a free-for-all...

    1. Well they say it's supposed to be healthier for them that way. And oh... the cute sad face, I know it well! :-)


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