Thursday, March 08, 2007

Li'l Elvis Left The Building - A Costly Penis!

Trouble With Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Not one, not two, but three expensive (totaling $3400) bouts with FLUTD in the last four months has forced my family to decide to have one of our cat's undergo surgery to remove his penis.

What?

A penis must be amputated!

Just one more time - I can't hear you!

A penis must be chopped clean off!

Shudder!
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FLUTD Will Kill Your Male Cat in 24 Hours!

If you suspect that your male cat has a problem urinating get your cat and your credit card and go immediately to the veterinarian. Do NOT wait to see if it goes away by itself, because your cat will die if you wait.
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If you know much about a cat's penis, and not many of us do, you'll know that they are very very very small. Now that sounds like it might not be a problem for anyone other than cats, but it turns out that cats can get a disorder called FLUTD (i.e., Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) which is most often caused by bladder crystals. These crystals, and sometimes clumps of protein can obstruct a cats urinary tract.

In the case of female cats there's not much to worry about. FLUTD is just a nuisance for female cats. A bit of a strain at the litter box, or perhaps a spell of urinating in unusual places - which is rare for cats. You'll still want to check with your vet if you notice such problems with your female cat.

However with male cats FLUTD is fatal. If left untreated within twenty four to thirty six hours a male cat's kidneys begin to shut down, and death quickly follows. Since cat owners may not notice their cat's urination problem the first day by the time they do respond their cat may die even if they rush their male cat in for treatment. It's that big of an emergency, yet many cat owners have never heard of FLUTD.

In Male cats with FLUTD the cat's penis becomes clogged with crystals or protein clumps which prevents the cat from urinating. Urine builds up in the bladder, and this begins to prevent their kidneys from excreting urea. Urea is a poison which must be eliminated from the blood, and so within a very short period of time a healthy cat can die simply because it can't urinate.

This type of blockage happens in other animals too, but is found most often in cats. The penis of a cat is approximately the size of the tip of an ink pen.

Cats urinate far less frequently than human beings do, and their urine is much more concentrated. Mineral content is much higher in cat urine, and that is why crystals form in a cat's bladder more often, and more quickly than in a human being's bladder.
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Diet, Stress, and Dehydration

Two of the biggest factors which contribute to cat's being stricken with FLUTD is stress, and eating food with high levels of magnesium, and phosphorus.

Stress plays a major role as it tends to interrupt when and how often a cat urinates. A cat's urine becomes more acidic when it is under stress. In fact in many countries FLUTD is treated by prescribing anti-depressants (for the cat).

Within the last fifteen years most popular brands of cat food have been reformulated so as to reduce levels of phosphorus, and magnesium. This change resulted in a significant drop in the incidence of FLUTD. Despite the reformulations many critics have argued that most popular brands of cat food still contain too much phosphorus, and magnesium.

There are special cat foods which have reduced levels of phosphorus, and magnesium. These formulations are usually twice as expensive as regular dry cat food, but the cost is easily justified when one takes into consideration the veterinary bills related to even one bout with FLUTD.

Dehydration also plays a role in the incidence of FLUTD.

FLUTD tends to spike when the weather becomes cold and dry. Some veterinarians suggest that cats not be fed dry cat food at all, but instead be provided with wet cat food as it provides cats with an added source of water. Some veterinarians suggest that cats be provided with distilled water to reduce the amount of minerals they drink in their water.

For many cats FLUTD is a recurring threat.
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What Happens When You Rush Your Cat To The Vet?

When a cat is rushed to the veterinarian the vet will try to unclog the penis manually, but if that fails a small hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into the urethra. The bladder is then drained, and refilled with saline solution and then drained again. XRays are taken of the bladder to check for bladder stones. Usually a sedatives, antibiotics, pain killers, and antispasmodics are administered to help the cat to urinate while catheterized.

Some cats are so ill by the time they reach the veterinarian that they need to stay several days while they are given intravenous fluids to help them rehydrate. Several Urine test are used to check the urine for crystals.

Most cats if treated in time recover without any damage to their bladders, or kidneys.

I recommend leaving your cat at the veterinarian's office for observation after initial treatment. We brought our cat home early, and ended up rushing him back to the clinic and spending twice as much money - simply because we thought we'd save money by bringing him home early.

Still even leaving the cat for observation before bringing him home doesn't insure that your cat won't relapse - our cat did.

Many cats are repeaters. Even when stress levels are reduced, and diets are changed cats can still fall prey to FLUTD. When that happens amputation of the cat's penis is often the treatment of choice. Amputating the penis opens up a larger urethral opening, and eliminates the danger of the cat dying from FLUTD. Amputating a cat's penis is costly, and entails the possibility of post operative infection, but it saved our cat's life.

The biggest concern related to the treatment of FLUTD is getting the male cat into the veterinarian before it's too late.
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Cost Add Up Quickly

It can cost big time money to get a tiny tiny tiny tube inserted into a cat's tiny tiny tiny penis, because the cat must be placed under anesthesia first. Cats just don't like having tubes inserted into their penises.

Next comes the Xray for bladder stones, various medicines, and urinalysis, and blood test.

Then of course comes nights of observation, rehydration, saline flushes, and the amputation of the penis if necessary.
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The Horror, The Horror!

To have a cat's PENIS CHOPPED OFF cost far more than you'd ever believe.

In the last four months we have spent $3400 on saving one cat's life due to FLUTD! The cost of buying a used automobile to save a little cat's life.

Essentially you have three choices (1) catheterize your cat with no assurance that you won't end up needing to catheterize again or even have your cat's penis removed, (2) euthanasias your cat, or (3) take your cat home to die an agonizing death. If you love your cat, and you have the money prepare to spend as much as it takes to make your cat well.

If you don't have the money or the credit your cat dies. If you have the money veterinarians can pretty much charge whatever they want. If you stop paying at any point treatment ends, and your cat dies - it's that simple. Didn't anyone ever tell you about this before you adopted, and fell in love with your cat? No? Well you know now.
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Bills Bills Bills

Here's a list of links to the bills I'm still paying on - read it and weep:

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Billing Pages For Same FLUTD Incidence

$ 675.10 ..... Page One
$ 133.25 ..... Page Two
$ 136.70 ..... Page Three
$ 779.23 ..... Page Four
$ 135.25 ..... Page Five
$1859.53 ..... Grand Total (Does Not Include $1500 For Same Cat 11/2006)
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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder is a real money maker for Veterinarians. It's a life or death condition for male cats. Companies which produce popular brands of cat food still include too much phosphorus, and magnesium in their formulas.
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Despite switching to a prescription only cat food our cat's urethra was so badly scarred from being catheterized twice in November of 2006 that he still ended up being blocked again by March of 2007, and needed surgery to prevent further episodes of FLUTD by having his penis amputated.

UPDATE: Koshi Kat is doing just fine. It's been nearly six months since the surgery, and no sign of FLUTD. We still buy the special cat food for all of our cats too.

5 comments:

Dave said...

Mee-OWWWWWWWW!

Anonymous said...

I know your pain. One of my cats recently had this surgery, and although I was fortunate that my vet could do it himself at the cost of $900 ($3000 via a specialist) we've still spent around $3,000 on his FLUTD problems since he was diagonised a year ago. Now it's been a month or so since surgery and all is well so far, but the vet says his scar tissue from previous catheters was so bad he couldn't make the opening as wide as needed, and he may still block anyway! Anyway, good luck with your cat, I'm glad you spent the money to have this done - so many people have told me they'd rather get their pets put down than fork out the $$$ :(

JeromeProphet said...

Anonymous (September 15, 2007),

I hope your cat has no further troubles with FLUTD.

Koshi was, up until I moved the keyboard to write this reply, laying right next to me. He's doing alright.

We took out a special credit card just to pay all those vet bills. It's called Care Credit.

It's an odd card. You don't pay interest on it unless you are late, or miss a payment. So we've been steadily working the debt down.

I'm not sure how Care Credit makes money off of the card in this way, but it's the company is owned by General Electric. You might want to look Care Credit up on the Internet.

We estimate we'll have the total FLUTD related bill paid off next March. That's two years after the dreaded FLUTD came into Koshi's life.

A day will come when I can't afford a particular operation, or treatment, and I'll end up having to have one of my cats put to sleep. I'll dread that day.

For now I have Koshi to hang with. He's returned to the computer, and is stretched out like a little lion watching as the letters fill the screen.

Again, best of luck with your cat!

JP

Daniela said...

Our cat 'Blooky' was merely 18 months old when he contracted this shocking disease (FLUTD). At a cost of $1065 I no longer take any risks at feeding time. Only wet cat food for this young fellow.....so far (4 months later) so good.
There is always the chance this disease may recur, but should this happen we will cross this bridge when we come to it.
ALWAYS pay attention to your cat when you notice unusual behaviour. In our case our cat 'told' us verbally that something was causing him distress. I followed him around for an hour or so before I realized he couldn't pee, then immediately took him to the vet. Daniela

JeromeProphet said...

Daniela:

I look down at Koshi, curled up in a ball sleeping, as I write this comment. We're still paying off the vet bill for saving his life.

Good friends, and relatives asked me why I just didn't have him put down, and get another cat.

They've told me that economics factor into whether people are allowed to die, or are treated - each and every day.

And they tell me that one day I won't be able to afford to save my cat's life - which is true.

But I feel I made the right decision. Koshi is very definitely a little friend, a member of the family.

And maybe in a way a little lesson for me to learn about myself, about what has value.

Having four cats I can't help but believe that cats have souls. They are little soul'd one's in my opinion.

And I felt morally obligated to endure a greater level of poverty in order to save Koshi's life.

I'm not certain how this effects my karma in the end, but I do believe that human beings have a great deal of learning about what is important, and how to treat each other, and the Earth.

Having cats as members of my family have taught me much.

Best of luck with your cat, and to you.

email jp

  • jeromeprophet@gmail.com

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