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Crystals

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Here is the story so far. Sorry if this gets a bit long.

Shortly after the food recall, I noticed that Swanie was not producing the same volume urine as he usually does. I'm not sure when it started (because I was sick myself right around that time), but the day it got down to two small quarter size dribbles, I took him to the vet. She checked and said no blockage, no crystals. We had blood tests done to make sure his kidneys were working okay, and those tests came back fine. The vet gave me an antibiotic that I had to give him for 14 days.

We then took Cindy in for blood tests to make sure she was okay, and hers came back fine as well. It also seemed to me that she was producing less urine as well, but I've gone past the point where I can really remember with certainty what size clumps I was pulling out of there. I do know that I always had to clean the litter twice a day, and now it's down to once.

After I started Swanie on the antibiotics, it seemed I was getting bigger urine clumps, and I hoped things were trending in the right direction. But now they're started to get small again. Monday we took them both back to the vet. She checked them and again told us no blockages, took more blood tests, and urine samples.

The blood tests came back fine, but she says there might be crystals in their urine. She isn't sure if there really are crystals, or if it's a lab error. She wants us to bring them back for another urine sample on Friday.

Husband thinks the vet is perhaps looking for another $80 for the tests, and he doesn't really want to take the cats back (not because of the money, but because of the stress on the cats). I've convinced him that I would rather err on the side of caution and get another test. She is having us come in Friday morning because they're only open 1/2 a day tomorrow, and the cats might have to stay if they can't get a sample right away. She says it won't hurt to wait a extra day.

What is the likihood that both cats (male and female) would get crystals at the same time? would crystals cause them to produce less urine? Or might there be some other problem I should ask her about on Friday?

Is there anything I can do in the meantime to help, or at least not make it worse? Kind of food I should avoid giving them, for example?
I've been so stressed out over this for the past three weeks that this has been going on. Husband is ready to divorce me, I think, because I get very emotional about it, but I love those two little guys more than I can even express and the thought of something happening to either one of them is really getting to me. This has already cost me a fortune, but I'm just running up the credit card bill and I'll worry about how to pay for it later.

Thanks for any advice you can offer (or just positive vibes for Swanie and Cindy).

post #2 of 15
Could you try to do free catch samples at home and bring the samples in? That way they would only charge you to do the urinalysis. When Saki had crystals it did cause him to urinate more frequently and in smaller amounts, I believe because the crystals irritated his urethra. It does seem odd if both cats both have crystals at the same time, but not impossible. Zoey and Saki have both had issues with crystals.

Hope they start feeling better soon
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
How would I do free catch samples? I'm not begrudging spending the money, but if I could make it less stressful for them, I'd be happy. Cindy is under the bed right now because she thinks me coming home means she's going to the vet
post #4 of 15
I ask the vet for a sterile container and a syringe. I usually know when they are due for a pee, so I empty out the litter and just leave a few pieces in there (I use the crystals cat litter). Saki will pee in there anyway, and then I just syringe up the urine and put it in the cup and immediately take it to the vet (within 15 minutes). Otherwise, I believe it can be refridgerated for a couple of hours. If that doesnt work you could try replacing the litter with dry lentil beans, so that the urine doesnt get absorbed, and syringe it up that way.
post #5 of 15
Sicycat has given you some good ideas. My Pixel ate the dry lentil beans, though.

Yes, crystals will typically cause a decrease in volume and an increase in frequency.

Unfortunately, relaspses of crystal problems and UTIs are fairly common. If there's a true bacterial infection...then it can be hard to kick. Sometimes different antibiotics are needed, or very long 14-21+ day courses of them. I've heard of longer, though. Recurring crystal problems can often be managed with diet.

It is possible for both cats to have crystals. It seems unlikely for it to pop up at the same time in both cats...although they probably eat the same food...but that's the only common thing between your 2 cats. Now, the thing is....even healthy cats can pass some crystals, without a problem. I trust your vet to know the difference between somewhat normal and not normal. So, in your effort to be very cautious because of the recall, you may have uncovered a problem that BOTH cats had that was minor enough that it went undetected till now, OR perhaps Swanie has more of a problem, and Cindy is just passing a few with no problem. There are a lot of possibilities.

What are they eating now?

Diet change can bring on a UTI or crystal episode, as it is considered stressful for the cat. It has been shown that even going from one Rx urinary food to another can spark an episode.

In general, wet food is the best...I know you said Cindy is kind of picky about her canned food...and of course the recalls make it more complicated too.

In a crystal/UTI prone cat, it's a good idea to avoid "fishy" foods. For my very sensitive bladder boy I avoid all fish products as an ingredient, except fish oil. For my others...as a precaution, I try to keep it low on the list, say ingredient number 5 or lower. They get something more "fishy" say once or twice a week, but that's it. But they don't have pre-existing urinary conditions, either.

There are ingredient percentages to watch out for, like magnesium...I believe you want that to be under .09 in a dry and under .025 in a wet.

I also get very emotional about cat issues...I think my DH gets very tired of hearing me talk about the cats. He loves them too...but...

I hope it helps, and I hope you can get everything figured out w/Swanie and Cindy.
post #6 of 15
OK, I'm sure Sicycat & beandip have given some great advice. I didn't read the entire responses....but here's my 2 cents anyways!

Wet food is better for cats with a history of UTIs or crystals. It has higher moisture content, therefore they pee more reducing the chances of a recurrance.

What are you currently feeding? Brands & wet or dry, please! I would suggest switching to wet food only, which can be an ordeal. But, if its best for the kits, that is the way to go. If they do have crystals, the vet will likely put them on a prescription diet.

Also, try not to stress. Kitties pick up on that & it can make things worse. Look into getting a Feliway diffuser to help them calm down, or perhaps Feliway spray to spray on blankets when they go to the vets office.

My last thought for now...my Dory, Ophelia, & Molly all had UTIs at the same time. Dory had crystals, Molly I brought home because she had a UTI, & Ophelia likely developed one because I brought Molly home.
post #7 of 15

I don`t have any advice. Just good vibes for you and your babies.
Hope you can get samples without having to take them to the vet again.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the good advice.

I did change their diet, almost completely, because of the Menu fiasco. When I first heard about the recall, I got rid of most of what I had for them because it was either the same brand as the recall, a Menu company, or had wheat gluten. For about a week I was primarily feeding them Meow Mix pouches, Fancy Feast cans with no wheat gluten, and Merricks (which they don't really like). Since then, I've been researching and have gotten them Natural Balance and Evangers. I also just bought a couple cans of Spa Select to try, but Swanie threw up the one I gave him. They get wet food 3 times a day (or sometimes 4 if Cindy gets hungry in the night and wakes me up. I'm such a pushover). I split a 3 oz can between them (or 1/2 of a 6 oz can), and they usually eat only 1/2 of that or less. Swanie eats more than Cindy.

When the recall happened, I had been transitioning them to California Natural dry food (from Authority), so now they're completely on the Calif. Natural, and I've started to add in a bit of Natural Balance dry. I put out about a cup of that at night and they graze on it, never eat it all. I'm going to try to cut them back on the amount of dry food they get. The problem is that husband is home during the day, and if Cindy trolls for food, he'll throw her down some dry. Oh, and I also have some Fancy Feast dry that is their "treat," while I look for a better quality that they'll eat. Swanie loves to chase treats down the stairs in the morning, and I was using Royal Canin for that. He usually gets about a dozen pieces, and Cindy gets the same. I know I need to stop that, but he likes the game so much and he's so cute pouncing on the kibble.

I know I feed them too much fish, I've been bothered by that for a long time. But sometimes it's the only kind of food they'll eat, especially Cindy, who is very picky. I gave them Natural Balance Chicken & Liver tonight, and they both ate it, so I'll have to check the other ingredients.

The reason I'm so stressed is that they have a decrease in volume, but they also have a decrease (not increase) in frequency. I came home tonight, rushed up to the litter box, and nothing. I'm always telling them to go pee, but they just don't listen My life now revolves around those little boxes.

Based on that, I'm not sure I could collect any urine from them. They tend to do whatever they do in the middle of the night. They're both jumpy, I really hate to put them through this again, and I really really hope I don't have to leave them there.

I do have Feliway plug ins, I have 2 going right now, probably should get a couple more. I learned about that trick when we first adopted Cindy and she was frightened and hiding. I also have the spray that I spray the blankets in their carriers. What I need is the equivalent of feliway for humans. I'm trying not to stress, but the longer they go without using the litter, the more anxious I get.

Did I answer all the questions? Thanks again for your good ideas and thoughts. You guys are great
post #9 of 15
Hmmm

My thoughts/ideas below are based on the idea that your cats don't both have a new bladder/urinary problem...I'm trying to look for other reasons. It will be interesting to know how the test results turn out this time. I hope it won't be too stressful for Swanie and Cindy. Tell them to pee some healthy pee!!

I have noticed big differences in my cats' drinking habits, depending on the food they're getting. Some of them must be salty as I will see everyone get a drink after certain ones. Since going to all wet food, my cats rarely drink any water, but pee a greater volume, at pretty much the same frequency...just more each time.

Overall are they eating less wet food than they used to? That would cause a difference in volume and frequency.

I wonder if their new foods leave them less thirsty than the old ones. ?? This one would effect volume/frequency too.

This sounds a little nutty, but do you smooth out the sand after you scoop the boxes? I do...mainly so I can see at a glance if it needs scooped or not. The other issue is that I have noticed that cats who are having elimination problems will get in and out of the box without using it, for one reason or another, whether it be because of constipation, or difficult urination, or just general nervousness from one thing or another. So when I see little footprints and no 'evidence' it makes me think. I don't worry a lot about that...but I'll watch everyone a little closer then.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
IOverall are they eating less wet food than they used to? That would cause a difference in volume and frequency.

I wonder if their new foods leave them less thirsty than the old ones. ?? This one would effect volume/frequency too..
I'm not sure I'd say they're eating less wet food. Maybe a tad bit less. The moisture content in the foods seems to be pretty high, too. I give them the same amount of the new food that I used to with the old food, but they almost never ate all of that either. Maybe because this new food is healthier than the old I was giving them? I have seen them both at the water bowls occasionally, and I do notice that the amount of water is usually down a bit each day. I've added water bowls, and reactivated the fountain, even though I never did see them drink out of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
This sounds a little nutty, but do you smooth out the sand after you scoop the boxes? I do...mainly so I can see at a glance if it needs scooped or not. The other issue is that I have noticed that cats who are having elimination problems will get in and out of the box without using it, for one reason or another, whether it be because of constipation, or difficult urination, or just general nervousness from one thing or another. So when I see little footprints and no 'evidence' it makes me think. I don't worry a lot about that...but I'll watch everyone a little closer then.
Yes, I do smooth out the litter after I scoop, for the same reason that you do. I have noticed a couple occasions where there are footprints but nothing to scoop. It hasn't been a frequent thing though. The problem is, I can almost never catch them actually in the litter, so I don't know who is doing what. Even when I lay in bed awake half the night listening for the scratching, they always seem to wait until I've fallen asleep. But I do know that the clumps are all way smaller than they used to be, so it has to be an issue for both of them. The vet didn't have an answer for me as to why this might be happening, and she also didn't seem concerned about it. She said they seem very healthy, and they really aren't acting any differently. If they were outdoor cats, I probably wouldn't even know there was any issue.
post #11 of 15
No advice, but your cats are beautiful, and I am praying. I'd do the same thing you are. I would want to take them regardless of the cost. My cats are all I have in the world, and I'd do anything.

You've been given great advice.
post #12 of 15
With Swanie, the good bloodwork, no crystals the 1st time, but quarter sized pee clumps, then that spells UTI to me. It sounds like it cleared up at least for awhile. I guess the vet didn't find any evidence of bacteria the 2nd time?

If it "might" be crystals, and "might" be a lab error...I would question why she wants to charge you again, but I would pay too...for the same reasons you would. I just question the "might". I don't quite think she's just trying for more money, but...might, might, might. It just bothers me a little.

How did they collect the last sample (the questionable one)? Did they keep them there and wait for them to pee, or did they draw it out with a needle?

How is their behavior? I re-read your replies...I guess you said they aren't really acting differently. Beandip, my crystal boy is a completely different cat when he has a bladder problem. He's reclusive and VERY anxious at those times. It's like night and day. With 8 cats, I can't rely completely on the clumps to tell me if something's wrong. It is a good clue when you can use it, but for me it's hard to track. I just use his behavior as a guide. I've only been "wrong" one time...meaning I took him in for a UA and it came up completely clean.

However, I can spot his clumps because they are bigger than any other, and he buries them in a special way, unmistakeable. A changed diet has changed his frequency, I will say that. Now that he gets most of his water from his food, he only pees every 18 hours or so, real big, but only every 18 hrs.

When he has a problem, he spends 50% of his day searching around the house, sniffing like a bloodhound. He'll sit down for brief moments but never relaxes. When it's time to sleep, he sleeps under the bed, instead of on top like he usually does. He doesn't eat as well.

And I see the same behavior in my 2 girls that have occasional poop-paranoia. Seeing them searching around the house is my first clue with them, too.

I think if these next tests come up OK, that what you're seeing could be a combination of the diet change affecting their "output" and behavior-wise if you're seeing something, I would say stress.

Are the litterbox(es) possibly in a place that they aren't comfortable with? I wonder only because you say they wait till nighttime to "go". On another note, I will say that cats can sense our stress level...it affects theirs.

On the footprints in the sand...if it's only occasional I wouldn't put much stock in it. I can allow them to get in and then change their mind occasionally ...but I have seen them do the frantic "litterbox hopping" when they have a problem so that's why I mentioned it.

With healthier food, they will tend to eat less.

I know this is a tough time with food, but if you can get more canned and less dry in them, that would be good IMO. I read it again ...You mentioned your plan to do that anyway, so that's good.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
With Swanie, the good bloodwork, no crystals the 1st time, but quarter sized pee clumps, then that spells UTI to me. It sounds like it cleared up at least for awhile. I guess the vet didn't find any evidence of bacteria the 2nd time?
The first time I took Swanie in, it was a different vet who saw him. She told us no blockage, but she couldn't feel any urine in his bladder so he had to stay all day. She told us no UTI and no crystals, but he did have some "junk" in there (her words), and gave us the antibiotics.


Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
If it "might" be crystals, and "might" be a lab error...I would question why she wants to charge you again, but I would pay too...for the same reasons you would. I just question the "might". I don't quite think she's just trying for more money, but...might, might, might. It just bothers me a little.
I can't say for certain they're going to charge me again, but my suspicion is that they will. They have done follow up visits for other things for free, but especially if they have to keep them all day, they'll charge. I have questions too, and so does hubby, but I really don't think this vet orders unnecessary tests just for the money. At least, I haven't seen that in the past. She also doesn't try to push any of the things they sell, unless I ask about something. I'll pay if they want it, I'm not rich, but I haven't maxed out my credit cards (yet), so it's okay. I'll do what it takes to make sure my baby is healthy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
How did they collect the last sample (the questionable one)? Did they keep them there and wait for them to pee, or did they draw it out with a needle?
They used a needle (I assume. They took them into the back room to do it. Not my preference, but... btw, it took 3 of them to get a sample from Swanie. He's not an easy cat to treat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
How is their behavior? I re-read your replies...I guess you said they aren't really acting differently. Beandip, my crystal boy is a completely different cat when he has a bladder problem. He's reclusive and VERY anxious at those times. It's like night and day. With 8 cats, I can't rely completely on the clumps to tell me if something's wrong. It is a good clue when you can use it, but for me it's hard to track. I just use his behavior as a guide. I've only been "wrong" one time...meaning I took him in for a UA and it came up completely clean.?
As far as I can tell, they're behaving normally. Neither of them hide, except that Cindy will run under a bed if she suspects she's going to be "grabbed" (i.e., taken to the vet), but that's normal for her. And she doesn't stay under there once she sees the coast is clear. She has gotten into the habit of sleeping on us at night, and she's still doing that. Last night she was on my chest for awhile. The night before I woke up and she was stretched out on my side. Swanie was his usual bratty self this morning, and he's learned a new trick (jumping onto my dresser) to go with the previous trick of jumping onto the kitchen counters. He's relaxed, and purrs when I pet him, and trolls for food and treats. Neither are reclusive or anxious that I can tell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
When he has a problem, he spends 50% of his day searching around the house, sniffing like a bloodhound. He'll sit down for brief moments but never relaxes. When it's time to sleep, he sleeps under the bed, instead of on top like he usually does. He doesn't eat as well.
I haven't notices any excessive sniffing. Usually in the evening after I turn the downstairs lights off and go upstairs they'll go on "bug patrol," but that's normal. Last night I went downstairs and they had a poor little spider cornered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
Are the litterbox(es) possibly in a place that they aren't comfortable with? I wonder only because you say they wait till nighttime to "go". On another note, I will say that cats can sense our stress level...it affects theirs.
The litterboxes are where they always have been. I don't think they're uncomfortable with it, but I can't say for sure. I don't have a lot of places to put litter boxes, so I have two in the spare bedroom across the hall from our bedroom, and one in the bonus room down the hall. They rarely use that one, and it's definitely the more "secluded" of the two. I have been stressed lately, because of this and other things, so I'm trying to relax now and see if that helps. I do feel better that two sets of blood tests came back good, and if they have crystals, I can deal with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
On the footprints in the sand...if it's only occasional I wouldn't put much stock in it. I can allow them to get in and then change their mind occasionally ...but I have seen them do the frantic "litterbox hopping" when they have a problem so that's why I mentioned it.
I haven't seen any litter box hopping, and I've been trying to follow them when I see them heading upstairs to see what they're going to do. Most of the time lately they're just heading for the dry food bowl.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beandip View Post
I know this is a tough time with food, but if you can get more canned and less dry in them, that would be good IMO. I read it again ...You mentioned your plan to do that anyway, so that's good.
Last night I put about half the dry food out that I normally do. They both pestered me around 3:00 for food, so I opened up a can. They were waiting again for their usual 6:00 breakfast too. I plan to get more of the Natural Balance canned because they both like that, but I guess I need to wait until after this urinalysis to see if I have to change their diet. I really would like to avoid the prescription food, because I think they're all crap and some of them have been recalled, but I'll do what I gotta do

Beandip, thank you so much for taking the time to post all of this. You have helped a lot to put me more at ease with the situation. Husband thinks I'm over reacting, and that might be true, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quick update:

Both Swanie and Cindy had full bladders at the vet's this morning, so they were able to get samples.

No crystals were found in either sample.

Now I just have to figure out how to get them to pee
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misty8723 View Post
Quick update:

Both Swanie and Cindy had full bladders at the vet's this morning, so they were able to get samples.

No crystals were found in either sample.

Now I just have to figure out how to get them to pee
Well that's great!!! Now, Swanie and Cindy...please pee and make mommy happy.
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