Lately when I go to my vet, he reminds me that my 14 year old cats are "no spring chickens". Duh. They aren't chickens at all...

UTIs, Eye Lesions, Herpes, Oral Meds & Cats

Lately when I go to my vet, he reminds me that my 14 year old cats are "no spring chickens". Duh. They aren't chickens at all, they are cats! Should this guy really be a vet if he can't tell the difference?! All joking aside, I like to think my cats have lived this long because I take them to the vet. Both Vicktor and Ginger get pills for their ailments everyday. Yep, they get oral medication.

Vicktor (the handsome black cat pictured) was the first kitty to be prescribed anything. He had a bad UTI once. It was the only time he has ever peed outside the litter box, so we knew something was wrong. Common signs that your cat is having a urinary problem are:

- peeing outside the litter box
- straining to urinate
- frequent attempts to urinate but nothing or very little coming out
- crying out while urinating
- licking the genitals to soothe them
- blood in the urine

Bladder infections are common in male cats because of the way their internal tubing is routed. They can develop a urethral plug which can be fatal. If you see any of these signs, have your cat checked out ASAP.

We took Vicktor to Emergency Care and the infection eventually went away with medication, but they told us in order to prevent another UTI he needs to take Cosequin once a day. It's a joint supplement for cartilage. The outer lining of a cat's bladder has a layer with some of the same compounds found in cartilage. The layer prevents waste from infecting the lining and Cosequin keeps that layer intact. He's been on it ever since. Vicktor is easy because he will eat anything. Even if it isn't food, if it smells like food he will eat it. Cosequin comes in capsule form. We open it up and sprinkle it in his wet food daily. He gobbles it up. 

On a side note if you have a cat and are worried about UTIs feed them wet food with a little extra water added, you can even add extra water bowls around the house to increase their water intake. It will help keep their urinary track moving because they'll pee more. You can always increase the number of litter boxes and make sure they are always clean to encourage your cat to use them. Info on how much water to give your kitty can be found here. And litter box advice here.

We had a problem with little Ginger (the pretty squinty cat pictured) last year with her eye. The one eye looked clouded over so we took her to the vet. It ends up she had an eye lesion caused by feline herpes. Cat herpes are NOT the same as people herpes. Feline herpes are like a bad cold for cats. It can't be spread to people, but it's contagious for other cats. Most of the time the symptoms are subtle but your cat can have flare ups caused by stress. The symptoms include:

- sneezing
- discharge from the nose and eyes
- pink eye
- eye ulcers
- congestion
- fever
- loss of appetite
- depression
- drooling
- squinting
- lethargy
- lesions in and around the eye

Ginger even went to a cat eye specialist! They gave us drops and meds for her eye and the lesion eventually healed, but she has to take a daily dose of Lysine. Yep, the supplement people take. Lysine helps people in a lot of ways, but for Ginger we mainly need it to help with the protein in her eyes. Recently there have been studies done and there is no evidence that Lysine can help control the feline herpes virus...but it can't hurt to continue to give it to her. (Reference here.) We buy Lysine pills and have to cut them into 4 pieces, then crush them into her food. It's a little more tedious than Vicktor's routine, but if you cut up a bunch at once and store them, it's not so bad.

Now if you have to get an oral medication routine down for your cat, what are your options? Well it depends on the medication. If the medication is a pill meant to be taken orally...

- you can crush it and mix it with their favorite food or treat
-  if you can't crush it, put it in a Greenies pill pocket
- if you can't crush it, wrap your cat in a towel to prevent them from scratching you and pry their jaw open and throw the pill in their mouth or try to get it as far back as possible and tilt their head up, but you have to make sure it gets swallowed (This can also be done with liquid medication and a syringe)
- if it's a capsule you can open it and put in food or treats
- some medicines can be compounded and flavored

Mostly you have to figure out what works for you and your cat and how frequently you have to administer the dosage. For example, if you only need to give them something three times, the towel trick might work, if it's any everyday thing, mixing it with food might work better. You may have to switch up the food you give them too so they don't get bored. As always with pets, there's some experimentation needed. If nothing works you can ask your vet for help too. Don't give up! Good luck and I hope your kitties don't need lots of meds!