Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feline on thin ice

Last week I had a doozy of a case, more for what happened after the diagnosis than what happened before.

A 5 month old spayed female kitten (originally from the local shelter) presented for inappropriate urination. The owner dropped her off in the morning, so I didn't have a chance to talk too her before I took a look at the kitten. However, the receptionists had gotten a fairly complete history, and inappropriately urinating young cats is a fairly common thing to see.

Anyway, we started with a urinalysis which is the S.O.P. for any inappropriately urinating animal. Now, it is actually fairly uncommon to find that the problem is due to a bladder infection in young cats (as opposed to young dogs where it is not uncommon), so the results of the urinalysis were unsurprisingly normal as was the physical exam. That leaves us with one culprit as the main cause of inappropriate urination in young cats: FLUTD.

FLUTD stands for Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a syndrome unique in cats. Without getting too technical, it is typically a mix of nonspecific inflammation and some level of "psychological" problems in the cat. The inappropriate urination can sometimes be traced back to a stressful event that changed the cat's routine such as a new pet, a new person in the household, even a new couch. After talking to the owner, we were able to trace their cat's problem back to when one of the roommates (who interacted the most with the cat) moved out of the house. The typical treatment plan includes some pain medication, but the bulk of the plan involves some level of environmental enrichment such as more things to climb on, bird feeders to watch outside the window, fountain water dishes, etc. Depending on the cat, it may never get better.

Anyway, as I was talking to the client in the exam room about the findings and the plan for her cat when she came to pick her up in the afternoon, the cat was roaming around the room. And, as I was talking to her, I saw as the cat nonchalantly climbed up onto the bench in the room and started urinating in the owner's purse.

Now, needless to say, that didn't go over well. The furious owner was now at her wits end, and it was quite clear. She elected to leave the cat at the clinic overnight while she cooled off. She picked the cat back up in the morning, but this time she brought a carrier for the cat to go home in.

Makes you wonder if that was why the cat was at the shelter to begin with.

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