Sometimes, it hits me really hard how much I wish I had known what I know earlier in my life. Today, let me tell you a story about feline idiopathic cystitis (basically, a cat peeing around my house).
McAleister’s Story Once upon a time, I had a cat named McAleister. I adopted him literally 2 days before vet school started, he was being attacked by a dog in another household so he was given to me. He was probably 4 weeks old (I was told he was closer to 8, but he was soooo tiny and barely eating dry food…). McAleister quickly became one of my heart pets. He was an incredible cat. He was so playful, he used to run up and down the halls of my house as fast as possible with foil toys in his mouth, then would “trip” and start rolling and kicking the ball. He would torment his older sister (my other cat Tahoma), although they loved each other. Anytime I sat down, he was on top of my computer or my homework instantly.
But, he was also an incredibly jealous cat. Like insanely. When the husband and I moved in together, he would pee in his laundry baskets. Anytime the husband would get home (he was a truck driver so he came home on weekends), McAleister would hear the door open and come running from wherever he was, then he would jump from the ground all the way to my shoulder and sit there to say “She’s mine.” As the years progressed, the issues worsened. He continued to urinate around our houses whenever he was stressed (and we were moving a lot, and I was stressed, so that was easy to write off). We had urine on carpets, on bookcases, on couches. In every single corner he could find, basically. I went through carpet cleaner like crazy. But I wouldn’t give up.
And then, it got even worse. When he was about 5, he developed crystals in his urine, which resulted in blocking his urethra (for those of you who have dealt with urethral obstruction, you know what a big deal it is, and for those of you who haven’t, it’s a life-threatening emergency!). We dealt with that, and I worked with him still. We had him on antibiotics and prescription urinary foods and cranberry and prozac to deal with the stress. But then he wouldn’t take the prozac anymore and started having problems again. We tried other calming medications but he wouldn’t take those either. On the day he peed both in my brand new baby’s crib and on his dresser (getting into the drawers in his clothes), I took him in and ran every test available to me. And when the conclusion came that there was nothing wrong, that it was behavioral, I couldn’t take him home. So at 6 years old, I lost one of my heart pets.
This many years later (the son is almost 8), I still sometimes think I see him around corners. And we’ve moved so many times since, it’s not like he was ever in these houses. Almost eight years ago, I didn’t know anything that I know today.
I didn’t realize how much his symptoms meant that his system was out of whack (behavioral issues often come from internal imbalances!). I didn’t realize that if I worked on his diet and maybe a few supplements for his anxiety, I might have been able to change everything.
Today, I practice completely differently. I help these cats with pheromones, dietary changes (not prescription diets if we can help it!), CBD oil, herbs, acupuncture, and many other treatments. It’s very rare that we can’t solve one of these cases. If he was with me today, I could have helped him.
Instead, I had to say goodbye. This is part of why I’m so passionate about holistic medicine. About healing the bodies. Because saying goodbye to him devastated me. Choosing my human baby over my cat baby was a decision I never want to have to make again. I still miss him every single day.
And I never want anyone else to have to go through the same thing.
So if you have a cat with issues like this (or any pet with any other health issue where you might be facing making that choice), please seek help. Whether with me over a consult, or with a holistic vet in your area.
Very often, there are other options.
(PS. I do need to put the disclaimer out there- if you have cats with urinary issues, it is worth introducing some of the holistic treatments. But it is one of the harder things to deal with, so if you’re going to try, you have to be very diligent! I’ve had some cats who took too long to respond and re-blocked so we had to consider other options. So never do this without extreme diligence and supervision!)