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30 Jan 2010 Issue

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The Symptoms of Deadly Urinary Tract Crystals in Cats and How To Treat It

(How to find charities to assists in paying emergency vet fees after article, Courtesy AIP Staff :Lisa Marie Tabor)

Article By Avis Townsend

Neutered male cats are prone to urinary crystals, and if the problem is not taken care of in a reasonable amount of time, the cat can die. A "blocked" cat suffers one of the most painful ailments a cat can suffer, as his body is being poisoned by urinary infection.

Many people do not recognize the signs until it is too late. If you notice your cat straining in the litter box, acting like it's constipated, there is a good chance it is beginning to block. If it starts soiling areas or urinating outside of the litter box, there is a problem. If it tries to urinate frequently, but nothing or just drops come out, it is preparing to block. The reason cats soil areas outside of their litter boxes is because they are associating the litter box with the pain of urination, and they reason that going in another area may lessen that pain.

In the beginning, crystals will cause the opening of the urethra to become blocked partially, so there still may be a trickle of urine. As the problem progresses, however, the trickle slows to a complete blockage. Sometimes the bladder ruptures. Generally, once a cat becomes totally blocked it takes three days to die and it's a horrible, painful death. They will begin crying in pain, and eventually the pain will put them into a coma. It is cruel to let a cat die that way.

Sometimes the cat can be catheterized and just the insertion of the catheter will enlarge the opening and allow urine to run freely again. But if measures aren't taken to prevent crystals from forming again, he will become blocked again. If catheterization doesn't work, surgery will have to be performed, which slits the penis and allows urine to flow. This surgery can cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

If you can't afford the surgery, it would be more humane to put him down before the agony becomes unbearable. Imagine yourself not being able to urinate for days.

Diet can control the amount of crystals in a cat's urine. Cheap foods found in supermarkets are full of dyes and are high in ash. Both can cause crystals to form. Check the labels for cat foods that say "for urinary cat health." Also, mixing canned wet food with the dry food is helpful, as the fluid in it helps move the fluids through the cat's body and out, before the urine can get highly concentrated and become crystallized. Don't give them cow's milk, because it is not a natural food for cats. Wet food and lots of water will help more than anything.

A better brand of food may cost a bit more, but it can save you hundreds of dollars for vet bills and save you large amounts of heartache.


Please be aware of your male cat's urination. If you notice in the litter pan small and numerous wets spots instead of larger regular urine deposits he needs to see a vet at once. This disease will kill your cat.

Below I found a tribute I would like to share with you. It is of Max, a beloved cat that passed away due to this disease. This is his memorial, his story and a lovely video of his happy loving life.

Max's Memorial

Though you may not be inclined to read this passage, this is Max's story:

During my spring break of 2007, my cat Max passed away on March 18th from chronic stones/crystals that had developed in his bladder. We had noticed his struggle to urinate in the late evening, to the point where he became very vocal of the pain he was feeling. Unfortunately, it was 9pm, and the only available veterinary hospital was one in which I feel didn't provided the best options of care. Between discussing costs and procedures, they had contained Max in a mesh bag as he was becoming fractious when handled due to the pressure in his bladder. It took a little over an hour before the doctor gave him a sedative or any type of antibiotic, never mind starting any preparations to actually relieve his bladder. We were told to go home and that he would be kept overnight after the procedure.

The next day he was allowed to go home, and we were told that this problem could reoccur. A week later, it did, and the doctor proposed two options: either a $3000.00 surgery to reformat his genitals and expand the urethra like that in a female, or euthanasia. Because it is just my Mom and I, we didn't have the financial means to afford the surgery, and therefore had no other choice but to euthanize him.

It was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make, and though I work in a veterinary hospital now and understand the sometimes hefty price of veterinary care, I also am aware that there are specific foods and medications that can be given to prevent the reformation of crystals. The veterinarian we dealt with did not once mention either of these options, and like most pet-owners who have never had there pet become sick before, we relied solely on the doctors instruction and naively did not ask against his advise.

Max was my special boy, and though he was taken much too soon, I believe his death allowed me to pursue my love of animals and an interest into the animal anatomy. The summer following Max's passing, I began to volunteer at an animal hospital, where they later hired me for my efforts; I now perform as a Veterinary Assistant and plan to study to become an Animal Health Technologist.

Max left behind his best friend, Simon, who is seen in the numerous pictures of the two sharing their favorite rocking chair. Since Max passed away, however, and to my best knowledge, Simon has not sat on that chair. For two male cats that were not related, they were extremely close, and though many people may be skeptical of an animal's consciousness to change, I believe Simon knew Max wasn't coming home when we arrived with an empty carrier.

The one thing I will always remember, however, was when we first brought Max home from the hospital the next morning. He was quite groggy from the sedatives given, and was having trouble walking, but yet he gained up enough strength to jump on my lap, crawl up my chest, and give me a "head rub." Though Max was not a completely independent cat, this was something rather out of character. To this day I believe he was saying thank you, when in retrospect, I should have been the one thanking him for all the silliness, joy, and warmth he had contributed to my life for those four wonderful years. ...

In memory of Max: After viewing this memorial to Max you will find information on pay emergency vets bill, such as Max's. I have included a list of agencies that provide help. Please don't miss this vital information following video

We No Present: In Loving Memory Of Max

In Loving Memory Of Max

Unfortunately these people didn't realize there are charities and organizations that will assist you with health care for your pet. There is no reason to lose your beloved family member due the high cost of vet service needed in saving there lives.

Below you will find a list of those that will help with this problem. You can also Google for more places that provide vet care. Don't give up, there are those that can help you with these emergency bills and senior's with low income pet costs.

Feline Outreach
"Feline Outreach is a charitable organization formed to promote the routine and medical care of companion animals, particularly cats." (Note: Feline Outreach was founded by people who have diabetic cats.)

"Mission Statement: Helping people help pets. To better the lives of sick, injured and abused companion animals. We are dedicated to insure that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged." (Note: I MOM has a special fund for diabetic cats)

American Animal Hospital Association
"The heartbreak happens all too often? A pet owner is unable to afford treatment and their sick or injured companion animal pays the price. If the owner is elderly, disabled or on a fixed income, the cost of care may be too much of a stretch for their pocketbook. Perhaps they have been victimized by crime, property loss or a job layoff and are experiencing a temporary financial hardship? Making it too difficult to afford pet care. And some animals, brought to clinics by Good Samaritans, don't have an owner to pay for treatment. Whatever the situation, the fact remains the same: When sick or injured animals are unable to receive veterinary care, they suffer. Through the AAHA Helping Pets Fund, veterinary care is possible for sick or injured pet seven if they have been abandoned or if their owner is experiencing financial hardship."

Angels 4 Animals
"Angels4Animals, a non-profit organization and a program of Inner Voice Community Services, has a mission to serve as the guardian angel of animals whose caretakers find themselves in difficult financial situations. At Angels4Animals we believe that animal owners should not have to say goodbye to the animals that they love. Our work is accomplished in conjunction with veterinary clinics across the country, eager to assist as many animals, and their owners, as possible. Our services range from financial aid to complete treatment to those pets and pet owners in need."

Care Credit
A credit card company for health care, including veterinary care. "Care Credit, the leader in patient/client financing, has helped more than 3 million patients/clients get the treatment or procedures they needed and wanted. With a comprehensive range of plan options, for treatment or procedure fees from $1 to over$25,000, we offer a plan and a low monthly payment to fit comfortably into almost every budget."

Cats in Crisis
"Cats in Crisis Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals and humane organizations care for cats with chronic or emergency medical conditions through financial and fundraising assistance."

Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance (FVEAP)
"The NEED & The HELP: Seniors, People with disabilities, People who have lost their job, Good Samaritans who rescue a cat or kitten - any of these folks may need financial assistance to save a beloved companion." The Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that provides financial assistance to cat and kitten guardians who are unable to afford veterinary services to save their companions when life-threatening illness or injury strikes.

"Our efforts focus on serving the elderly, the disabled, and the working poor. For lonely seniors, physically/mentally challenged individuals and children of working parents, pets represent much more than a diversion."

Shakespeare Animal Fund
“Anyone can apply for funds, but SAF offers assistance primarily to those on fixed incomes or with annual incomes below $35,000. Exceptions are made depending on circumstances. It is always a one-time grant”

The Pet Fund
"The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need urgent veterinary care. Often animals are put down or suffer needlessly because their owners cannot afford expensive surgery or emergency vet visits. Companion animal owners must often make the difficult decision to put an animal down or neglect urgent medical needs because of the costs involved. The purpose of the Pet Fund is to work towards a future where decisions about companion animal medical care need never be made on the basis of cost."

United Animal Nations
"The mission of LifeLine is to help homeless or recently rescued animals suffering from life-threatening conditions that require specific and immediate emergency veterinary care. We strive to serve Good Samaritans and rescue groups who take in sick or injured animals. In certain cases, LifeLine can also assist senior citizens and low-income families pay for immediate emergency veterinary care."

UK Assistance with Veterinary Bills
"Most of us can cope with the financial commitment involved in the day to day care of our pets. However, how many of us come out in a cold sweat when our pet is ill or injured and we know we have to take it to the vet? Most of us are fortunate enough to be able to afford it but, some of us who love our animals dearly cannot. Unfortunately we do not have a PDSA or a RSPCA Centre within our area, but there are a few charities who may be able to help.".

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