The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

Fur-Tunately: Stories of Animal Survival | Episode IV: The Usual Suspect: An AERC Tribute to Film Noir

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Of all the veterinary emergency rooms in all the towns in all the world, Rory walked into AERC’s. Or rather, his owner brought him in. Dr. Thell took one look at Rory and knew one thing: he was in pain, and he was the usual suspect for a feline urinary obstruction. But more on that later. Rory wasn’t happy to see us, and he gave our technician a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of her back.

Rory’s obstruction meant he couldn’t pee, and a young male cat who couldn’t pee was in trouble. Big trouble. Being young and male usually wasn’t a problem. Rory was the best cat in his world and a good enough cat for any world. But a male cat’s urethra is narrow, while a dame’s could be as wide and empty as the space between stars. And without clearing this blockage, Rory might be looking at possible kidney failure, or even the end of the line. Being young and male was the first clue that Rory was the usual suspect.

Looking at Rory, there was no question, he’d lived life fully. When your appetite says one thing and your head says another, your head always loses, and this kitty’s waistline was proof. But there’s no trap so deadly as a delicious bowl of snacks, so now Rory was paying the piper. Being overweight was the second clue that Rory was the usual suspect.

Lucky for him, Rory’s owner was good at seeing the evidence – one link leading to another like a chain that seemed to be tightening around Rory’s neck.  At AERC, Dr. Thell gave Rory pain meds and sedation, which left Rory floating in a deep blackness that was something more than night. She was able to clear his urethra, flush his bladder, and give him a temporary urinary catheter for his stay. Then Rory was moved to our “Cool Cats Only” joint with classical music, calm pheromones, and squirrel and bird flicks on the reel. To Rory, it seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in. But Rory was used to living in nice, indoor digs. And being a guy who lived indoors was the third and final reason he was the usual suspect for a urinary blockage.

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Based on all the evidence, including Rory’s history, exam, blood and urine tests, and x-rays, the doc’s diagnosis was crystal clear:  feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) – which is a lot of fancy mumbo jumbo meaning Rory’s urinary tract was inflamed but we don’t know why.

Contrary to the word on the street, bladder infections in the young male cat are almost as uncommon as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake. We don’t know the cause of FIC, but stressful life events that make your cat’s hair curl and nerves jump can trigger it. In addition to being a young male cat with a liking for grub and his own home sweet home, Rory had some potential hard knocks just before he ended up at AERC. For one, his owner was spending more time away on the weekends. Secondly, he was on a weight loss program. And as far as he was concerned, there were no bad foods, only some that weren’t as good as others.

Once Rory’s urinary catheter was removed and he was able to “go it alone,” Rory was able to go home with medications and prescription diet samples.  As he went out the door, Rory thought, “Maybe I’ll live so long that I’ll forget Dr. Thell. Or maybe I’ll die trying.”

Heidi Brenegan, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

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