This handsome devil is my cat Charlie. I recently had to take him to the emergency vet for what turned out to be a urinary tract obstruction. He is approximately 12 years old and had had this condition one other time in my years as his pet parent back when I first adopted him. At that time we switched from kibble to canned food and he never had a recurrence until last month. Of course it was during a busy day with several clients away on vacation and emergency vet clinics with record wait times, largely due to staff shortages.
I had noticed the day before that he had caught a vole. Charlie is an indoor/outdoor cat and frequently hunts and eats what he catches. (I am not going to get into the merits and drawbacks of having a cat with access to the outdoors in this blog). So I thought little of it when I came home from an overnight pet sit in the morning to find vomit in the hallway (Charlie occasionally vomits when he eats wild prey). I did notice that he spent the day sleeping inside, never once going out which he normally does. I also noticed that despite not going out he hadn't used his litterbox. But it wasn't until I was getting ready to leave for pet visits that I realized he was hiding under the bed which he only does when he is scared or not feeling well. I dragged him out and when I tried to pick him up he yowled in pain. I checked for physical damage and couldn't see any so loaded him into his cat carrier and went off to the emergency vet. As suspected, it was a urinary obstruction. These can be caused by calculi (stones in the bladder that then block the narrow urethra), swelling, stress and sometimes unknown causes. Fortunately he was able to void after receiving strong pain meds and he was sent home to rest. Meanwhile I was communicating with pet parents via text message to let them know what was going on and that I hadn't forgotten their babies. If Charlie hadn't been able to void he would have been admitted and had a catheter passed and kept for 36-48 hours of observation, fluid administration and pain meds. To prevent this condition from recurring it is recommended that cats have a low stress environment, canned food rather than kibble, (some vets recommend a particular food to decrease the risk of stones), access to fresh, clean water at all times (fountains with moving water seem to encourage cats to drink more), adequate numbers of litter boxes kept clean daily. Generally one more box than the number of cats in the home. I had already been doing all of these things so we can't explain why this happened. Fortunately I caught it because if left untreated for even 24 hours this can become a life-threatening emergency and death can occur. Sometimes pet parents think cat visits can be done every 2-3 days while they are away on vacation and this is one of the most compelling reasons for having a cat visit at least once a day.
Charlie is back to his normal naughty self and I couldn't be happier!