Often, when something terrible happens, you wake up–shaken but relieved–realizing the whole thing was a bad dream. And subsequently, everything is okay again.
Last night, I knew that even if by some act of God(dess) I could nod off, the sleep would be pointless, because even if I were to wake up this morning thinking/hoping it was all a bad dream, the reality that it’s not would come crashing back onto me like a ton of bricks.
When your cat has a urinary tract problem, it can come on rather suddenly. It did this about two weeks ago, when he developed what we’re fairly sure was a urinary tract infection, or UTI. He was restless, paced the apartment, went in and out of his box, and meowed more while sleeping less, but other than that he was okay and we weren’t sure what was wrong.
A couple days later, he was in a vet’s office. The vet was unable to detect any problem via ultrasound because his bladder was empty and thus small. Plain film x-rays didn’t reveal any stones in the kidneys or anywhere else. Judging by the symptoms we reported and the lack of other clinical findings, the vet assumed it was a UTI and prescribed a 7-day round of antibiotics. After about 2-3 days on the medication, he seemed to improve dramatically. Like smart pet parents, we finished the entire round according to instruction. He returned to his normal, happy, lovey self, and all was well.
…For a week. Until last night. Abruptly at 10pm he started howling around the apartment intermittently. We thought he wanted to play, as this was how he sounded when he held a milk jug cap in his mouth (his toy of choice). When it persisted with a little more intensity and a slightly higher pitch, accompanied by fruitless trips to the litter box (and our other bathtub as well, in which we saw a couple drops of urine) we thought, oh no, not this again. And yet, it was different. We figured he might be constipated and adjusted his lumbar spine and cold-lasered him on constipation and infection settings for a few minutes. No dice, so we didn’t screw around.
Within an hour we were researching emergency vet clinics, finding one that was open 24/7/365. Thank God for living in the city. It has its moments, but it has its moments, if you know what I mean. A half hour later we were there, and he was whisked away to the back. In an emergency vet clinic, you wait out in the front lobby and let them do what they’re going to do. It’s not anything you want to watch. It’s necessary and whatnot, but it’s not an image of your fur-baby you want burned into your mind.
After what seemed like forever (but really wasn’t), we were told he most likely has a blockage – he’ll be sedated, catheterized, and fed fluids, painkillers, and anti-inflammatories over the course of the next few days. Sucks, but I can deal with that.
She prepared us for the fact that (to paraphrase) this may be just the beginning. Male cats are prone to urinary blockage, which is a medical emergency (so never, ever screw around or hem and haw with this kind of thing!), and if this happens once, it can happen again. If it does, it may require surgery and even then, you’re not out of the woods yet, because there are after-effects – life kind of changes irrevocably once the surgery is done.
He may or may not need surgery – time will tell. Until then, all you can do is pray. Sleep is optional.