First thing tomorrow vet visit or emergency vet?
September 4, 2017 9:27 AM   Subscribe

The cat is exhibiting weird peeing behavior - urinating in small amounts, getting into the litterbox and not peeing. This started this morning. She is eight. Obviously we need a vet visit - do we need to go now to the emergency vet, or first thing tomorrow to the regular vet?

She is eating, drinking, playing, not in distress and will let me touch her abdomen with no pain.
posted by Frowner to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
Is she straining and/or crying when she is in the box? She could have a UTI, but she could also have a stone that's intermittently or partially obstructing her urethra.

Female cats only rarely obstruct, but a urinary obstruction is life-threatening.

If this were my cat I would go to the emergency clinic. And definitely request a sterile urine sample be taken for a culture and sensitivity test to be done by your regular vet (even if they suggest you not bother - in my experience emergency clinics don't do cultures, even though they're best practices, because they don't do the longer term care and likely don't send anything out to labs, but if your cat is put on antibiotics, you can't do a culture, and you really do want to know what, if anything, is growing in there and how to treat it). You can take the sample home and refrigerate it and run it in to your regular vet first thing tomorrow morning.
posted by biscotti at 9:36 AM on September 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

We took our old guy to the emergency vet twice during the last year for this (there was also blood in his urine, and he was going outside the litter box) and it turned out to be an infection. The vet told us (the second time) that as long as he *was* urinating, even in small amounts, we could have waited until the next day. The most dangerous possibility is a total blockage; i.e. no urine coming out of cat at all.

Our emergency vet took urine and did a culture, though they forgot to actually send it to the lab the first time and thus ended up giving us the wrong antibiotics -- which led to the second trip!

So if it's the first time that it's happened you might want to just go to emergency vet to be on the safe side, but it would also probably be ok to wait until tomorrow as long as the cat is urinating some.
posted by little cow make small moo at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can you call the ER vet and ask them what they think?
posted by VTX at 9:45 AM on September 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

The behaviour can signal a urinary tract blockage. Which is not common in female cats but can occur, is she persian by any chance they are more prone to it too. They can also get UTI's, bladder stones etc. Is she in any obvious pain when peeing? Is there any blood in the urine?

If urine is coming out, there is no blood & no obvious pain (crying when peeing or stress when peeing) I would wait. As a warning though, if your cat is hiding her pain while peeing, she may end up scared of her current litter box, the longer she uses it the more likely she is to start peeing outside the box.

You can ring your emergency vets and ask what they think.

Having said that I'd take my cat, if only because of the peace of mind the extra cost buys me. I'm a worrier.
posted by wwax at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Emergency vet said that unless her condition changes, we can wait until morning and seemed to suspect a UTI rather than a blockage. (Cat is not persian). Right now, she's begging for food like usual and seems in good spirits. We're ready to go ASAP if anything changes, though.
posted by Frowner at 9:57 AM on September 4, 2017 [10 favorites]

If you can, get a urine sample; it'll make the visit easier.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 10:53 AM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

How do you get a urine sample from a cat? A cat with a UTI who is dribbling only a few drops at a time? Is my cat unusual in being uptight about these things?
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 11:52 AM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

A clean garbage bag on top of litter works for my cats. When one of our cats was having similar symptoms the vet gave us plastic pellets to use as litter in a clean and sanitized box, so we could collect the sample from there.

Cat absolutely refused to go with said pellets. I tossed the pellets, put litter in the box, and wrapped it in a garbage bag and she immediately went the tiny amount she was able pee at a time.
posted by wierdo at 12:53 PM on September 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Some cat owners use hydrophobic sandI my cats have no personal experience of using this one, though.

A friend of mine used to first disinfect the litter box and then cut up a few unused plastic bags with scissors. Perhaps shredded-up plastic that's been in the same house for some time will be more acceptable to some cats than commercial pellets that smell wrong. Some people use clingfilm (saran wrap?) on top of the usual litter. I've even heard of someone covering the litter box with an Ikea carrier bag.
posted by kaarne at 1:03 PM on September 4, 2017

The clean garbage bag on top of the litter box or if it pees on the floor, eyedropper it into a clean container.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:49 PM on September 4, 2017

yeah, be careful to make sure she is peeing - honestly, I'd take her to the emergency vet because a few weeks back I had to put down my extremely special best friend of a cat because he had a blockage- and even though i knew what to look for and monitor (he'd had a small blockage before but had passed bits of urine at that time) he took a very sudden turn for the worst over a period of a few hours.
I'm still unconsolable for about an hour a day over it.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:53 PM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

- also, my cat was not vomiting and was still eating right up until the moment he was writhing in pain and I rushed him to the emergency vet. That alone isn't enough to go by imo.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:54 PM on September 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

It sounds a lot like it could be a UTI, and I may be anthropomorphizing too much here, but holy crap, even if UTI's aren't an emergency and treatment could probably wait a day without any serious health consequences, they are SO ungodly uncomfortable. The sense of needing to pee all the time, the burning and irritation while peeing, the general sense of malaise... They're terrible. It's hard to sleep, it's hard to rest comfortably, they just all-around suck. I'd be pretty sad if I had a UTI and the person responsible for my health didn't get it treated right away.

It's probably pretty clear that my vote is to get kitty some symptom relief as soon as possible.
posted by jesourie at 4:54 PM on September 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Cat update, possibly more than you wanted to know.

I decided to watch for any discomfort and lined up a ride to the emergency vet but the day proceeded normally with play, begging for food, leaping, etc. (I know cats are good at hiding discomfort but she was actually pretty frisky.) She used the litterbox at a normal volume with no difficulty or cries just now and then did her usual rocket-cat-up-the-stairs thing, so I'm feeling a little better about waiting for morning. I'm going to check on her through the night, but if I hadn't observed her being weird about the litterbox this morning I would have no idea anything was wrong.

The thing is, sometimes she's just...weird. Like, she didn't eat for a few days, we went to the vet, had $300-worth of bloodwork and a lot of howling and then literally as soon as she got home she went right over and ate a whole dish of food. We had some other litterbox issues that lasted long enough for me to start freaking out and then resolved.

So it's not that I want to withhold care from her, and if she hadn't used the litterbox just now we would have gone to the emergency vet tonight, but I just feel like a trip to the emergency vet, when she is using the litterbox, eating and playing just like normal might be overkill.
posted by Frowner at 5:17 PM on September 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am not a veterinarian, but I am a human who keeps a close eye on my kitty's health. Per the vet, it's a good sign when a cat is eating as much as usual; ditto for peeing/pooping and playing.

In short, I think you're making the right call, esp. considering the litter box update. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
posted by virago at 6:49 PM on September 4, 2017

PS I speak as someone who once spent $45 on a call to a pet poison control hotline after my cat nibbled a flower from a plant that is toxic to kitties.
After advising me to ditch the plant (I did), they told me that he'd probably be OK as long as he hadn't chewed on the bulb. (He was fine, much to my relief.)
posted by virago at 7:00 PM on September 4, 2017

Emergency care for a cat or person with urinary blockage/inability to pee is a warm bath. So if your cat goes through this again and you think she isn't able to pee and can't get her to the vet four hours or something, the thing to do is to put her in a bath that is just a little bit warmer than body temperature. Of course she has to tolerate being in the bath without killing you, so if you can clip her claws before you get her in.

This is why it is very good to socialize your cats so that they don't mind having their claws clipped.

I once had swelling that meant I could not urinate on my own so they could not discharge me from hospital. After a week of getting cathetars at least twice a day, they got me so I could pee in a hot bath, and I was discharged with instructions to come back in if it stopped working.

The bath is only for until you can get to the soonest available vet. The vet can empty her bladder, but also treat pain and infection which you can't, Also you likely won't know if she manages to pee or not while she is in the bath, although you can watch for a cloud of darker or coloured water, or stickiness, like she has released a slightly oily substance. For this reason a shallow sitz bath is best, and spending several minutes in it, to half an hour or so, to allow for maximum possible release of urine.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:07 PM on September 4, 2017

Cat update: So the peeing normalized (and has continued normal) but discomfort and general weirdness continued, with some scooting and tail-licking behavior added. We went to the vet, who felt that there were no obvious symptoms of an infection but noted that, sadly, anal glands were very full and needed to be expressed, and that this seemed likely to be the cause of the issue. The cat did not enjoy this process at all, poor baby.

I am thinking that I might have mistaken general discomfort for urinary symptoms and that the problem may have been the glands all along. We're supposed to keep an eye on her but her actual litterbox use seems to have returned to normal these past couple of days.
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on September 6, 2017

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