I need to educate myself. One of my cats, a 9 - 10 year old male, has had many health issues his whole life. (He has an enlarged heart and uncountable bouts of cystitis -- and is on lots of medication for the heart and bladder issues).
So yesterday his bladder was completely blocked and I took him to the vet. He was unblocked and is staying at the vets. The estimate to do this was between $650 - $850 (unblocking, two nights at vets with supportive care, and flushing the bladder to try and get crystals out). Does that sound right?
My vet told me if he reblocks they'd do the procedure again; and if he reblocked a third time then they'd do the surgery to open up the penis/urethra so he couldn't block.
So, three times of unblocking = $2100 potentially, and then I don't know how much surgery is (guessing another $2,000)
I'm stuck because on the one hand that is way more money than I can comfortably afford to pay on one pet, the cat is in shaky health anyway (heart -- the vet said there was a chance he would not survive the sedation etc, though he has so far), he's on the older side and finally this cat pees all over my house (we've tried many things) and as a result is confined to three rooms. On the other hand, I've never euthanized an animal for convenience or financial reasons (though I would support someone else doing so in these circumstances!).
Any advice on what I should do? Are these typical costs? Where (if anywhere) would you draw the line?
First of all, dont panic. There are ways to medically manage a cat AFTER they are unblocked.
If cystitis is the cause of the obstruction (not crystals or stones), a daily dose of an antiinflammatory and cosequin has been proven to help. If its stones, crystals or sludge, diet alone often helps. A strictly tin food diet is important, and possibly a dissolution diet depending on the type of crystals found.
As for reblocking, yes there is always a chance that it will happen again. However, with proper medical management you are drastically reducing these chances.
Here, an unblocking at the ER costs about $1500 or so, for a simple unblock. GP vets are usually much cheaper.
Talk to your vet about your concerns, they will likely be able to help you make an educated decision.
Thanks, Squish. He's already on cosequin and uromaxx (which I understand changes the urine's ph) for his bladder issues (and has been on them for years). We tried the prescription diet and he was so allergic to it that he wasted away to skin and bones (it got that way b/c the vet thought he had lymphoma; a petsitter just put out a big bowl of dried food instead of feeding the wet when we were away and he regained most of the weight in the few weeks we were gone).
I guess here's another question: if he reblocks should we just go straight to the surgery? (Yes, I'll ask my vet that as well). I guess the downside is that it would be rougher on his heart.
Thanks for responding, and pointing out he won't necessarily reblock.
You dont necessarily read presciption diets, there are several that have different ingredients but basically a high moisture diet is the key. It takes a LOT of tin food to make up for a small amount of dry food, so if the kitty is already thin then a high calorie tin food (and lots of it) would be good. Low in Ash.
Surgery is a personal choice. If I had a cat who has blocked twice, then yes third time into surgery he goes. However with seeing LOTS of kitties with FUS over the years, theres a large amount that do respond well to medical management second and third reblockings arent common....but not impossible.
I spoke to my vet today, who says that reblocking is much less common with them on the special diets. And I guess there are a couple to choose from, so that gives me a lot more hope that this is (hopefully) just a one-time thing. If it is then I'm happy to have spent the $$. The vet said the blockage was due to sludge, btw.
Just going to add my personal experience with blockage.
My male cat was VERY fat (despite always being on a carefully managed feeding plan and getting Science Diet Light at the recommendation of my vet at the time - heh). He started showing signs of having a slight blockage one day that I happened to be home from work. Luckily I was home and noticed immediately and got him to the vet ASAP. They were able to do sub q fluids and put him on a prescription diet for a week to help "flush" his system.
This freaked me out after reading about the expense and challenge of male cats with chronic blockage issues, so I did some research. I sound like a broken record sometimes, but this site really helped me out (small animal vet with a passion for cats and their nutrition - also happens to be a horse person):
I did the prescription diet for a week and then switched to Wellness grain free wet, added a water fountain to encourage drinking, and also gave him chicken or tuna water from time to time to help get him more fluids.
The ONLY times he's ever had a mild relapse was when I switched him back to mostly dry to help out my cat sitter while on vacation.
Anyhoo, just wanted to show that these things can be managed and managed quite well, good luck!!!
20 years ago did surgery - never had another issue
Nicholas, who showed up one Christmas Eve, had recurring blockage probs and we did the surgery. He never had another problem, but did pass away from cancer at 15. At the time, the cost was probably under $800.
Costs seem about par. I'd consider the PU surgery now. I'd say at least a third of the cats we see here (ER veterinarian) for urinary obstruction end up as surgical candidates. With the costs involved, if surgery is an option, I'd suggest sooner rather than later. The one I'm overseeing now, waiting on surgery (past when we recommended it) cost his owner an extra $1500,
Thanks Marshfield. That's definitely the question I'll need to answer if he reblocks-- go straight for the surgery or unblock one more time? It would be cheaper on my pocketbook but tougher on his heart. I'll talk to my vet if that happens; in the meantime I'm not going to try and decide unless he reblocks again.
Thank you all of you for your responses, they've all been extremely helpful.
As has been said, if you feed an all-canned diet, especially one formulated for urinary tract health (Friskies has several flavors and is inexpensive) and make sure your cat is getting enough water, hopefully you will never see a second blockage, especially if the blockage was caused or exacerbated by crystals. The main reason that cats block is that they aren't getting enough water to flush sediment out of the bladder regularly--cats rarely drink enough water because their bodies are designed to get enough water through their diet. Dry food, even dry prescription food, does not provide this. Dry food is more calorie dense than wet, so you ill need to feed more. One of mine needs 3 5.5 ounce cans a day to maintain (though he is also diabetic), my big boy needs 1.5-2 cans. You want to look for low ash (phosphorus), which the Friskies Special Diet is. The ingredients on this are virtually the same as those in the prescription food for urinary issues. You want to avoid the flavors with gravy as they are high in carbs which can lead to diabetes and other issues.
Hopefully your guy will never block again. My big cat blocked completely a few years ago (and I want your vet; unblocking ran about $1500 all told) and since changing him to an all wet species-appropriate diet, he has never (knock on wood) had another blockage.