Pandora’s Blues

Bugs has started spraying.

Maybe “started” isn’t quite right. Maybe he’s been leading up to it for longer than I realized, as for some time I have seen him “vertical”-peeing and straining in the box. Maybe now he’s just “out” about it. Now, it’d be hard to miss. He climbed up on the kitchen sink and, right in front of me, sprayed the splashboard so hard I could have used safety goggles.

Mindful of advice to check whether there’s a medical reason for this behavior change, the vet found that Bugs flinched on palpation. He had white blood cells in his urine. No blood, no crystals, thankfully – but, still, we have a problem.

Another piece of advice, though: Watch out for some of these medics.

The first vet gave him an antibiotics injection. She scared me into agreeing to this, thanks to her dire warnings about blocked urethras in male kitties being possibly fatal. The shot had no effect; Bugs still tested positive two and three weeks later. Another vet proposed an estrogen pill to address the behavioral aspect. The homeopathic vet we eventually ended up with said the estrogen had been banned for people, but was still permitted for animals. (!!!) In any case, the vet said, it would be like tuning a watch (the endocrine system) with a sledgehammer.

Nobody had any certain read on what could be causing this.

Hence, the blues. Compounded by news of B.B. King’s death the other morning. King of the Blues, the expansive wise presence that he was, is now gone from us.


“B.B. King con Lucille” by Stoned59

One of the first things I did when I moved to Arkansas was to travel to Little Rock to see B.B. King play on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The whole King family turned out. It was highly memorable. I am very sad.

And I’m truly perplexed about Bugs.

The homeopathic vet said he might not necessarily have a biotic infection; white-blood cells could be present with inflammation, too. After extensively interviewing me, the vet concluded that Bugs is an intense little man, conscientious, hyper-responsible, sensitive, regal, self-contained, not notably demonstrative but, still, deeply attached. He was greatly affected by Fang’s death, hence the vet’s finding of “sensitive.”

So maybe Bugs is reacting to stress and emotional factors. New cats in the neighborhood? My own stress?

pee3 003-crop

Through a glass darkly

So now we wait, to see whether the homeopathic remedy the vet prescribed will work.

In the meantime thanks to the Conscious Cat and very timely too, we have now been educated about the “Pandora Syndrome.” It turns out that urinary issues in cats can be far from straightforward. The allopathic docs have a name for it: “feline idiopathic cystitis” (FIC). “Idiopathic” meaning who knows what. “Medically unexplained.”

Vet Tony Buffington, of Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says cats with FIC “often have multisystemic comorbidities.” Dig the multisyllabic thingamahoojiggies. Meaning that the focus needs to be widened from just the bladder to include skin, neurological, endocrine, immunological, and behavioral effects – including the cat’s environment.

Dr. Buffington notes an increased risk for FIC in indoor-only cats.

Oh no. Not that again.

Yes, ’fraid so. That’s why Dr. Buffington calls FIC the “Pandora Syndrome” – it equates with the troubles that fly out on opening Pandora’s Box. According to Wikipedia, opening Pandora’s box might seem innocent enough, but, once done, it has “severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.”


Pandora, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Pandora doesn’t look too thrilled. I likewise.

So where FIC is concerned, since Pandora’s Box has now been opened, let’s just have a look at what flies out. Here, per Dr. Buffington, is the confusing welter of potential contributing factors to FIC:

* Indoor litter boxes
* Close confinement with other cats
* Rainy weather (even for indoor cats)
* Dental disease
* Obesity
* Sensitivity to threatening stimuli
* Heightened sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system
* Early adverse experience (orphaned, bottle fed, rescued)

“Nonspecific behavioral and clinical signs” may also be present, like overgrooming or vomiting. The “first line of therapy” to resolve these is “environmental enrichment.” “The broad categories of food, water, litter boxes, space, play, conflict management, and pheromones should all be considered [for their] influence on the health and welfare of indoor-housed cats.”

Dr. Buffington provides a nifty 36-item questionnaire that, all by itself, might serve as a primer for what to do about environmental enrichment.

So according to the homeo vet, all the dietary supplements I had been feeding Bugsy after the diagnosis – d-Mannose, Vitamins C and E, cod-liver oil – might not necessarily help, if the problem is Bugsy’s emotional state. The homeo idea is that Bugs’s system might be trying to compensate for a chronic condition of imbalance. If the right remedy, the right match for Bugs’s temperament, could be identified, then the symptoms might no longer be necessary.

As for managing my own stress, progress is being made. Read about it here, in my other blog on the FELDENKRAIS METHOD.®

pee3 002-cropIt’s a team effort.




About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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11 Responses to Pandora’s Blues

  1. kittiesblue says:

    We have been dealing with Mauricio spraying forever, and no reason can be found for it. Astrid sprays some as well. I never had a female cat do this before, and I know it is stress with her. If you find something that works for Bugs, I would love to know about it. Thanks. Please join us tomorrow for our Sunday Selfies Blog Hop. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  2. Summer says:

    I am sending purrs your way, and hoping that you figure out a solution for Bugs’ issue.

  3. Herman says:

    Let’s hope there’s a good solution out there. Poor Bugs!

  4. FeyGirl says:

    This has been an on-again, off-again issue with our multi-kitty household… Most recently we just raised our feline number to FIVE (wow), and it started again, understandably. We have enough litter boxes; I use the CAT ATTRACT litter; I spray Feliway. I even give homeopathic UTI drops to one UTI-prone kitty (although many vets are VERY QUICK to label UTIs – they’re often other issues). I also use flower essences (Bach’s) to calm them down. 🙂 But ultimately, it’s often the same reason with us (bar any illnesses): Kitties NEED to smell their marks, preferably in a litter box. And if they don’t, well…

  5. Carolyn says:

    Poor sensitive boy!! I hope his problem will be found and sorted quickly and without it costing an arm and a leg!! Austin has been worrying me quite a bit lately. It could be age related, but I don’t know!! He’s wanting to keep awful close to me!!

  6. kimmo,spiveroo,stewie and smeezer(our real names have been changed to protect the guilty) says:

    LOVE the last photo “team effort”!!!!! And you guys are a great team. I am rooting for you!!

  7. amba12 says:

    I’m sure you know all about the danger of male cats getting blocked, whatever they’re calling it now — FUS, “feline urologic syndrome” was one of its many names. It’s a precipitation of sand-like crystals in the bladder. I think females get it too, but because they have a wider urethra, they don’t get blocked. My late husband and I were a crazy cat couple, so I’ve seen most of it, I won’t say “seen it all” since cats always have surprises in store. Some male cats develop this syndrome, others never do. We had several that did (we had a LOT of cats over the years, so this doesn’t reflect a high percentage). Some were medically treatable and recurrences were successfully preventable. A couple of them had cases so intractably recurrent that we finally resorted to surgery. It’s drastic — perineal urethrostomy, basically amputation of the penis to create a wider urinary opening. . . . There is NO QUESTION that in male cats that are predisposed, the condition can be triggered by stress.

    As a result I am extremely alert and paranoid about peeing discomfort and difficulty in male cats. (A Feldenkrais practitioner friend of mine in NC who has horses once said if horses don’t eat, it’s trouble, so she loves “the sound of a horse eating.” I immediately said, “Like the sound of a male cat peeing.”) From day 1 of having a male kitten/cat I take preventive measures: low magnesium food is #1. (I don’t know if this is still believed to be a factor in the precipitation of struvite crystals in the bladder, but it works for us.) If a canned food does not list magnesium in its ingredients (the tiny print can drive you crazy), I don’t trust it and don’t use it. When it is listed, it’s usually .025 and that’s fine. Second of all I feed higher quality canned foods (that list magnesium content). Wellness, e.g. It’s expensive but my vet bills are far rarer and lower, and they are a cat-astrophic expense as opposed to a chronic one. (I’ve also used Friskies Special Diet when I can’t find a better food that lists magnesium.) Dry food is higher in magnesium content and lower in water content by definition, and I frankly don’t know what percentage of magnesium to look for in dry food. But I never feed dry food exclusively. (For all I know you feed organic and raw — I’m not implying anything about your cat-feeding practices, just sharing my experiences.) And I think there are special urinary tract health dry formulas.

    I make sure the cats drink plenty of water. An electric fountain (in our case Drinkwell Platinum) has been the solution. It has a tank that releases fresh water into the fountain and it aerates the water, which encourages cats to drink: they seem to have an instinct (very sensible) to seek out running water. Otherwise you may be letting your faucets drip and wearing out the washers. 🙂 I used to do that in NYC where water is free, but when I fetched up in NC where it’s metered, I got over that in a hurry.

    And finally, acidifying the urine has been a successful preventive for us, not routinely, but for any male cat we were concerned about. A vet once gave us some pills for this, but what works just as well and won’t hurt your cat is a daily 250 mg vitamin C tablet!

    Your cat may not have this problem — but none of the above precautionary measures will do him any harm.

    I’m delighted to have found this blog by following the link in your Feldyforum e-mail. Here’s a catblog I started but haven’t kept up for lack of time.

    ~ Annie Gottlieb

  8. cat9984 says:

    Poor Bugs! Is he feeling any better?

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