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Need advice - adopt 3 yr male cat w/ struvite crystals, please help a rookie decide!

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone,

This is my first post on thecatsite forums. I have browsed a bit and am very happy to see a welcoming and helpful community of cat enthusiasts.

Let me issue some background. I have been thinking about adopting a cat for several years. Last weekend, I finally decided to take action and visited the Toronto Humane Society animal shelter. After perusing the available cats for several hours, one little boy really sparked my eye. His playfulness, affection and demeanour have won me over. I think I am ready to adopt the 3-year old sweet one. We made an instant connection.

However, his paperwork indicates that his previous owner didn't treat him with the care he deserved. He was originally found as a stray, and adopted 3 years ago by an owner that couldn't afford his vet bills.

This week, the vet at the Humane Society performed some bloodwork and found that he was likely fed cheap food that was contained corn, wheat, excessive salt and oils, resulting in urinary tract problems to the point of developing struvite stones. Then his owners surrendered him to the shelter because they didn't wish to pay for stone removal surgery. Currently, the shelter is feeding him medicated food, I believe it is Hill's C/D. Today, a urinary analysis is being performed and results should be available tomorrow or Friday. However, his paperwork indicates that he has struvite crystals.

The shelter supervisor said I would need to sign a 'medical waiver' if I take him, and that his inevitable surgery will cost around $800. I am OK with the financial burden as an eventuality for his health, but are there any other concerns that should consider before choosing to take him in? Most importantly, considering that this is my first cat and that I have no experience with any pets outside of my goldfish (of which I am an avid keeper). I want to be fair to the cat most importantly.

The vet and staff at the shelter believe that with diet management (ie: protein rich wet food and plenty of hydration), he should be a healthy happy cat.

I am trying to keep a level head, to stay detached and assess the facts regarding whether his health situation is slightly challenging or if it's a gloomy "ticking time bomb." Of course, I am emotional and would like to hear people say that I should go and adopt him but at the same time I want to be fair.

In light of the fact that I am an amateur, I am hopeful his health problems can be resolved with a bit more work on my part in exchange for his plentiful affection. If it's one thing you can say about him, he is one curious cat! I almost want to call him (curious) George!

Any guidance would be very helpful!

Thanks very much in advance. I really look forward to hearing your experienced thoughts and advice.

Much obliged,

post #2 of 20
It is not uncommon for cats to have struvite crystals. They usually do quite well when fed the appropriate diet (either special formula for dissolving the crystals or an appropriate maintenance food to keep the crystals from developing again). It's a sign of an educated shelter that they are recommending wet food instead of prescription dry food. In addition to keeping him on a good diet, I would suggest getting a kitty water fountain. It encourages them to drink more water. The more water they drink, the less likely the crystals are to build up.

The only thing I could say you should watch out for is any signs of straining. Since you know he prone to problems, the first time you see him pee on the floor or make repeated trips to the litterbox, take him to the vet immediately. Male cats are prone to blockages which are life-threatening if untreated. The good food should help prevent problems, but this is something to be aware of just in case.

My boyfriend's cat had a blockage a few years ago. I came over to the house and saw him trying to pee on the floor. We rushed him to the ER vet (it was a Sunday evening), and they cleared away the blockage of struvite crystals that had built up. He (and all the other cats) were put on a special food, and he hasn't had any problems since.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks cloud_shade, I really appreciate your confident words and encouragement. I don't want to put the cat in an uncomfortable position and as long as I know that I will be able to care for him I can comfortably choose to welcome him to my home.

I'm looking for some more opinions and suggestions, thanks for the prompt reply cloud_shade.
post #4 of 20
It is nice to hear that you are thinking about all this before adopting, and are wanting to do the best for this kitty. Good for you!

It sounds as though you have taken into account the potential financial burden that this cat's medical issues could bring, and that you are willing and also able to bear the financial costs, should they arise. That is a very important consideration when deciding to adopt any cat, but particularly one you know has a medical issue and in that area it is always best to lead with the head rather than the heart. It sounds like you have already done that and are prepared for the cost, so in my opinion, you are over the biggest hurdle. What this cat really needs on a day to day basis is attentiveness and the proper care, which it also seems like you are prepared to provide. Two years ago, my Nathan (then 4 years old) had a urinary tract infection that lasted a month. I didn't have a good vet, and so it took trips to five different veterinary clinics before I found one who would treat him properly, while all the while I lived in desperate fear that he was going to block up one night while I was sleeping and die before I could get him help. This was obviously not fun for either of us. But you are already a step ahead in that it sounds like this kitty already has some good doctors who are able to tell you how to care for him, and believe me, that can make all the difference in how easy or difficult it is to care for a cat with a condition. Since we found our present veterinary clinic, we have had Nathan on a low-ash, low-magnesium diet, with quality wet food included, and he has been healthy ever since. Just recently, my other kitty Nedicks, a female, was diagnosed with struvite and magnesium oxalate crystals. It has also meant a diet change for her, but again, with the help of a good vet, she is doing much better. I think that if you get this kitty on the right diet, with the help of your vet, keep his litterbox clean to minimize any presence of bacteria, and stay attentive to him so that you will notice any changes in his behavior, he will be just fine, and you will be rewarded with a wonderful furry friend. Good luck, and please keep us posted on what you decide to do!

Edited: I should add that I was also a complete cat novice before these two came into my life--finding a place like TCS really helped me.
post #5 of 20
My kitty Charley was just diagnosed last evening with crystals. He had been on Hills c/d since I adopted him two months ago. His previous owner was upfront about his health history, thank goodness, so I was aware that a potential problem could arise. Unfortunately I also gave him the occasional "treats", the kind you buy in the food store and that counter acted the affectiveness of the urinary diet. So the vet switched him to Waltham SO and I'm beginning the transition. And of course no treats for Charley! He is a dry-only food eater. He doesn't show much interest in canned. I have another "healthy" kitty and she is also on the SO diet. These are the fist kitties I've ever had that didn't like canned food! I also ordered some Scientific Professional Cat litter that has turns pink/red when there is an infection present. That way I can have a "heads up" when he's having a flare-up.

Best of luck to all of you!

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Stefanie and kittylove,

Thanks so much for your advice. Stefanie, hearing that my logical and emotional reasoning is not without integrity is encouraging. In addition, knowing that you each have had experience with a cat with struvite crystals whom is able to live a comfortable life is also evidence that adopting this cat is not at all inconceivable.

With all of your thoughts and prompt replies, I have decided to adopt him. This will be my 4th trip down to the shelter so hopefully it will also be my last!

post #7 of 20

Now all we need is pics of the new addition..
post #8 of 20
YAY I am so glad you are going to adopt him. As many have already said, you just have to stick to the diet the vet says and feed the majority high quality wet food. I have a cat with a similar problem and I just keep on the wet food and she has been okay.

(we would LOVE to see some pictures!!)
post #9 of 20
Congrats to you and your new furbaby! That's so wonderful to hear!!
With the proper diet and patience I'm sure your new little guy will be just fine! Keep us posted, okay?!!

post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Jen
YAY I am so glad you are going to adopt him. As many have already said, you just have to stick to the diet the vet says and feed the majority high quality wet food. I have a cat with a similar problem and I just keep on the wet food and she has been okay.

(we would LOVE to see some pictures!!)

Congratulations!!! I'm so happy for this lucky boy...and you too!
post #11 of 20
Oh yay! I'm so glad to hear you're adopting him! I second (or is that third?) the call for pictures!
post #12 of 20
And one more bit of advice--better make sure you protect those goldfish!
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mamacat
And one more bit of advice--better make sure you protect those goldfish!
I'm installing a glass top as we speak! Avery is finding his new home very interesting. Very nosy, I'll get some pictures up soon!

Thanks for all the help, and look forward to seeing me more often on these forums!

post #14 of 20
Welcome to your new home Avery! Can't wait to see pix of your new addition Loretta. Congratulations!
post #15 of 20
Welcome home Avery! Glad you decided to adopt him. Let us know when you get pics on here!
post #16 of 20
Lucky little Avery! Welcome home baby boy!


post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone!

Here are the pictures as promised of Avery! Please help me welcome him to my home.

BTW, the SOFT CLAW covers work great! No more tufts of carpet on my floor. He did struggle a bit to put them on though.

I have one last concern. With a history of struvite crystals, I want to ensure Avery gets a lot of water in his diet. However, he NEVER touches his water bowl and when I add water to his food, he doesn't eat it. What is wrong and what can I do?
post #18 of 20
Aww, what a handsome boy he is! I just want to give him zillions of scritches!

As for the water issue, I'm not quite sure how to address that. Perhaps there is something you can feed him that will make him thirsty? I know that sounds kind of nutty, but the prescription diet that we feed ours has something in it that makes them thirsty so they drink lots of water. Maybe you can talk to your vet and ask if there is something you can add to his current food to accomplish that. Also maybe a fountain will work for Avery--cats actually prefer to drink water that moves rather than water that's just sitting there. We don't have a fountain, but a lot of members do, so you can definitely get recommendations on here for what is the best brand.

And once again, welcome Avery!
post #19 of 20
Welcome Avery! you are just the cutest little tuxedo aren't you! (and your soft paws just add to the charm!). Thank you for welcoming this boy into your home. As far as getting him to drink some tips I've used: freshen the bowl often, try throwing in a few ice cubes to keep the water cool, you could try a pet fountain, try running the water in the sink (there are many kitties on here that prefer to drink from the tap...go figure). My Rambo prefers to drink from either the toilet, the tub after my shower or the sink if i run the water on low. The things we slaves do for our kitties!!
post #20 of 20
Hi, and welcome to TCS!

I just read your thread, and wanted to say hooray for welcoming Avery into your home! What a lucky kitty!

As for drinking water, my two rarely drink out of their water dish. They prefer to drink from the sink faucet (I plug up the bathroom sink & keep some water in there) or from a cup. I keep a cup full of water in my kitchen sink; Lilly likes to dump the water cups over, so at least with it in the sink, the water will go right down the drain!

If you want to try a water fountain, I know Petsmart (and I'm assuming other chains) have a great return policy (as long as you have your receipt) in case he doesn't like it.

It is extremely important for cats to get enough water, so really, you just need to experiment with how he wants it. They learn quickly how to train us!
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