Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Back to our regularly scheduling programming: Cat funk.

This all started a couple of weeks ago, when I came home one day to find spots of what looked like blood on the rug - and spots of what smelled like pee on the New Green Chair*.

I followed the blood trail to find more blood - fresh blood - in one of the cat beds. Around the same time as this discovery, Mr. Plainsfeminist discovered one of the cats peeing - just a little - on the comforter.

All of this seemed to add up to a cat urinary tract infection (UTI), so off went cat and I to the after-hours emergency vet.** The blood had come from her nipple, which they said was not unusual - sometimes, when a cat has a UTI, it will bite at its abdomen, where it hurts. But to be sure, they needed a urine sample from her.

Getting a urine sample from a cat is not a simple task for the layperson. With a dog, you can probably manage to capture some of the...uh...flow with a baggie while the dog is going, though you risk getting dog pee all over yourself, or at least your hand and, possibly, shoe. With a cat, however, it's more complicated. Cats use litterboxes, so one thing you can do is to buy little plastic beads that are 'specially made for just this instance. You fill the litterbox with the beads, and then you wait. When the cat has peed, the beads don't absorb the liquid, nor do they break down. You then take the pee to the vet. This is assuming that you only have one cat, or that, if you have two cats, only the right cat will pee in the right box. Not the case in our home, which means locking the right cat with the right box in the bathroom and hoping for the best.

OR, if you're me, you leave the cat at the vet and hope she'll just pee there. Because, if she doesn't pee, the vet has two options: she can force the cat to pee, which involves squeezing the bladder (ouch), or she can use a syringe to extract pee directly from the bladder through the abdomen (OUCH).

Well, I left her there overnight, she eventually peed on her own, and the urine analysis did indeed show that she had a UTI. I picked her up the next day, along with her prescription, which Mr. Plainsfeminist, being skilled at cat-medicating, got to administer. So for two weeks, the cat was happily back at home, no longer peeing or bleeding on things, and life was fine.

But when the antibiotics were all used up, the vet wanted another urine analysis to be sure she was completely better. So, back she went, for another overnight stay (actually, more like 30 hours, because cats are very good at refusing to cooperate with these sorts of things). This time, they had to extract the pee from the bladder with a syringe, and this must've been traumatic for her, because when they handed me to her, the smell hit me before anything else.

Now, cat funk comes in a few varieties. The two I'm most familiar with are "cat butt weird smell" and "cat piss stink." "Cat butt weird smell" is not the same as simple "cat butt smell." When cats are frightened, they emit some weird odor from their nether regions that is very fishy and unpleasant. This odor, like "cat piss stink," is hard to get rid of. The smell that overpowered me in the vet's office was "cat piss stink," which is worse because it evokes images of the worst gas station bathrooms and subways in the country. And of course, since any cat-related odors travel from cat to person very easily, she immediately got cat piss stink on my coat.

What was most disgusting, however, was that I was very cognizant of the fact that my hands, after taking the cat and putting her into her carrier - reeked. Not only did they reek - they were sticky with cat pee. And I'd only held my cat for a couple of seconds. The receptionist who had handed the cat to me, who had held the cat close to her body for the walk from the back room to the front office, immediately sat down at her desk and picked up a pen and started writing receipts. I asked to wash my hands. You'd think she'd have said, "yeah, I'd better wash my hands, too." But no. She pointed me to the sink and went on dealing with clients - handing them change, receipts, etc.

I shudder to think what else she might have done at her desk without having first washed my cat's pee off her hands.

So I arrived home with a stinky, traumatized cat. I couldn't just let her out of the carrier, though, because then there'd be sticky cat pee stink all over the rugs, the beds, and maybe even all over the New Green Chair. So I headed into the bathroom with her, fully prepared to give her a bath.

I've never done this before, by the way, and I should add here that if ever one has to give a cat a bath, this is definitely the cat to do it with. My *other* cat once got her claw stuck IN MY ARM when I was trying to put her in her carrier and she was trying to get away. She was headed one way, the claw was stuck in from the other direction, and I had to somehow get her to back up or else watch her flay my arm. But *this* cat is very easy to handle. I put just enough water into the bathtub so that one end was still dry, grabbed a handful of rags, deposited her into the dry end of the tub, held her with one hand, got the rags wet, and wiped her down a few times with the sopping rags. Then I let her go, and she squished her way around the bathroom, panting (in retrospect, I should have probably used room temperature water instead of warm water). Then, I used some dry rags to wipe her down (along with the floor). I let her out, threw the rags into the wash, let the bathroom (which smells of wet cat and more faintly of pee) air out, and wiped the stink off my coat.

I still have to clean the cat carrier, but I took a break first to write this.

*It's not so new anymore, but it's new compared to the other furniture in our home, and we protect it accordingly: "No food on the New Green Chair!" "No climbing on the New Green Chair!" "No reading the newspaper on the New Green Chair!"

**I've had several UTIs myself - I won't allow my cat to suffer with one through the weekend. Besides which, I didn't want any more pee and blood on things, especially the New Green Chair.


andi said...

Poor Kitty. I hope she's feeling better soon.
Ask your vet there is a product made to get pet smells out. I forget the name of it, but my aunt used it after her cat got sick with cancer awhile back. Worked wonders.

Anonymous said...

Yes, check petsmart... They have several sprays and rug things that will do away with smells.

I love how you call him "Mr. Plainsfeminist". I know why you do it, but it sounds so funny...

Kelsey said...

Nature's Miracle is pretty effective in the smell-removal.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Oh you guys - you've reminded me now of another cat pee stink story, the one that forced me to buy that stuff for the first time. There will be a prequel coming. (Aren't you glad?)

andi said...

Sorry to hear your cats been sick, sometimes I think it's hard to see a beloved animal sick than be sick ourselves. I hope she's better soon - UTI's suck.

Anna said...

I am totally familiar with the various smells that come from cat butt.

The grossest thing though?

Pulling a string from your cat's butt.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Thanks, all - the cat is fine, very happy to be home and very affectionate.

Anna - I've pulled rawhide out of a dog's butt. Does that count?

(Actually - PSA - you're not supposed to pull strings, especially, or anything that could be tangled, because it can do terrible things to their insides if it's tangled and you pull.)

Anonymous said...

My cousin had to pull his wife's nylon stockings out of the dog's butt.