An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Painful Drop - Part 4 of Litterbox Blues

After supervising leaf-raking in the backyard, I thought I'd climb up on Himself's chest so the two of us could snooze together. Alas such was not to be, for over the wires came a cry for help.Twila a two-year old tabby was in distress.

"Oh Greyce," she lamented. "My people are so thick I am at my wit's end. For the past day I just hate using the litter box. I feel the urge, get in the box and only a drop comes out. And it's soooooooo painful! Just when I think it if over, I get that urge again . . . and again. My people are so pre-occupied that I can't get my message across. What do I do now?"

Darling Twila let me wrap my paws around your heart to calm you down, though you have every right to be upset. It sounds to me like a urinary tract infection, say cystitis. I had it once and would never wish it on anyone -- even a dog! Until you see your vet you will always have this urge and it will always be painful -- no matter what you do. Unusual though it may seem, I offer the following advice: This is one of those times when you should welcome a visit to the dreaded vet.

You MUST get your purrson's attention -- the sooner, the better. Since time is of the essence, choose whoever is available; if you have more than one choice, then choose the purrson you think has the smarts to respond appropriately. Go immediately over and start to meow while pawing at his leg. At some point he will get fed up enough to actually pay some attention to you. As soon as you have it, immediately squat and go through the peeing motion; that shouldn't be hard given the urge you have to do so. It will help if you meow pitifully as you do so -- just so he won't get the idea that you are peeing beside him out of spite. (Yes, there are humans who actually think that way. So release your inhibitions and let forth with the saddest yowl you can muster.) Chances are you will only produce a drop. But that drop may even be red or pink and then even the thickest human should get the message that you are in trouble.

Not able to produce even a drop? Then once you have your human's attention, start to walk away, beckoning him to follow you. Take him to where you last peed. Chances are this will be outside the litterbox because you will have associated your pain with using the box and have started to search for some other, less painful place. And if you have something like cystitis which will give you a burning sensation, then you will have found a cool surface on which to pee -- like a lino floor, counter top, bathtub or sink. Don't hesitate to give a sad meow when you bring him to the spot. Again, a human with smarts should be able to figure out that you are asking for help.

This is one of those situations when your folks shouldn't hem and haw about whether or not to call the vet. If need be, they should take you to an after-hours or emergency clinic. Only a vet has the necessary medication to give you the pain relief you so badly need. And a good vet will make sure your people know the importance of giving you the full course of medication so that this infection doesn't rear up again. Believe it or not there are some humans who think that once you are back to peeing in the box the medicine has done its work -- even if there are several more days of medicine left to go. And nothing could be further from the truth. It takes time to get rid of all of the infection, even if you get pain relief much sooner.

So Twila, enough of the pep talk. It's time to combine your superior smarts with your vocal skills and get your folks to respond.  Go Twila, go!

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