In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how to identify urination tract infection in cats and about relocation of stray animals.
By Maneka Gandhi
What is urination tract infection in cats? How do I identify and treat it?
Signs, that your cat is suffering through urination tract infection, are as follows:
1. Straining to urinate: Bladder inflammation is the most common cause of lower urinary tract disease in cats. This inflammation, in turn, can lead to straining when urinating. It can eventually even lead to more severe and emergency type of situations, like the formation of stones in the bladder, or the formation of a urethral plug, which is a life-threatening condition that causes the cat (almost always male) to become “blocked” (unable to urinate).
2. Frequent attempts to urinate: Cats with urinary tract disease often urinate an abnormal amount of times each day because little to no urination is being evacuated each time. This is obviously very frustrating and also dangerous for the cat, because when a cat is blocked it is unable to rid itself of bodily toxic waste products through its urine.
3. Painful Urination: The pain associated with urinary tract disease may be so severe that some cats will lick their penile or vaginal area (or at times the abdominal area) as a way to try and self-soothe. Cats with urinary tract disease may also be more irritable than usual.
4. Blood in urine: Cats with urinary tract disease will often have urine which is blood-tinged or discoloured. Females are at greater risk for urinary tract infections, that lead to blood in the urine, than are males.
5. Urinating outside the litter box: Urinating outside of the litter box is not always a medical issue, but you should be concerned of it, especially when combined with any of the earlier mentioned symptoms.
If your cat is having trouble urinating, and displaying other signs, take her to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will give her a physical exam and collect urine samples. Blood work, x-rays, and abdominal ultrasound may also be recommended for diagnosis.
Most cases improve without medical treatment, but the symptoms can recur. Though they may not be life-threatening to your cat, they can be uncomfortable, so treatment can improve her overall quality of life. While the treatment depends on the underlying cause, it is always beneficial to increase your cat’s water intake. Maintaining a healthy weight, feeding her canned food and encouraging her to use her litter box can also help. However, certain conditions simply cannot be treated at home. Bacterial cystitis should be treated with antibiotics, while stones must be surgically removed.
My wife is pregnant. Is my cat’s litter box dangerous for my wife during pregnancy?
If a cat consumes raw meat and hunts outside, it might contract a protozoan called Toxoplasma gondii. This causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. For healthy adults, it is like flu but, when a mother becomes infected with toxoplasmosis during her pregnancy, her unborn child can become infected with toxoplasmosis via the placenta. This can lead to foetal death.
Cats that become infected with toxoplasmosis shed the organism in their faeces for a short period of time. Even if your cat is shedding the organism, it takes a minimum of 48 hours for the oocysts to become infective. Cleaning the litter box daily prevents transmission. Use of proper hygienic practices can prevent infection. It is advisable that someone else cleans your cat’s litter box. If at all your wife ‘has’ to change the litter box, she should wear gloves.
Keeping your cat indoors is a good way to prevent your cat from becoming infected with toxoplasmosis. Also, avoid feeding your cat raw meat and do not allow your cat to hunt. These practices will remove the possibility of exposure of your cat to toxoplasmosis.
What do I do when I see an injured cow or horse on the road?
Unlike the case of an injured cat or dog, an injured cow or horse can cause much more damage to you, if threatened. Do not, under any circumstances, directly approach the animal. First, call for back up. Call an animal aid and ask them for directions. Explain to them the situation. By the time they arrive, try to provide the wounded animal, with water (possibly in a bucket) to calm it down. A horse’s hind legs are very strong, so try not to scare it as its kick can be lethal. In case a calf is wounded, do not try to take it away from its mother, she might charge at you.
You can apply simple first aid, if you gain the animal’s trust. Begin with patting the animal, let it know that you’re a friend. Offer it food. Washing the wound and providing the wounded animal with a place to sit — on a mat or a straw bed — would be helpful. Stay with the animal and offer reassurance till animal aid arrives.
My neighbours beat the stray animals on the road. How do I convince them to stop?
You should calmly approach your neighbours and explain to them that, what they are doing to those helpless creatures is illegal and inhuman. After all, where should they go? No street animals will cause them any harm if they are left alone. It is not difficult to coexist with animals; they just have to be indifferent to their presence. You should educate them that according to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, inflicting pain to stray animals is a crime, and an FIR under Section 428/429 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) can be lodged against them. If they dismiss your pleas, you should seek help from an animal aid organisation.
Is relocation of stray animals from a locality, in the name of safety of residents, legal?
As per Indian law, street dogs cannot be relocated or dislocated from the area to where they belong. The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, enacted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, stray dogs can be sterilized, vaccinated, and then returned back to their original locations.
Relocating stray animals from a locality does not solve the issue of increasing dog population. More dogs will move in to the locality, breed and produce more pups. Furthermore, relocation also increases the occurrences of fights, between new and old dogs, which can be dangerous for humans. The answer to this problem is organizing sterilization drives, which requires coordination between the RWA of a locality and an animal aid organization.
Am I bad pet owner if I leave my pet alone at home during work? Where can I leave him?
We understand the guilt you feel when you look at the sad eyes with which your furry companion looks at you when you are leaving for work. First of all, ensure that when you leave your pet alone, he/she should have access to food, water and a place to pee and poo.
Most cats do not mind being left alone for long hours, during work. However, they should not be left alone for very long, because cats too are social animals that need interaction. Also, leaving cats alone for too long could also mean damage to your furniture.
It is not advisable to leave adult dogs alone for more than 8 hours. Young puppies under 6 months of age can’t be left alone for more than 2 hours.
You should house train your pets so that they do not develop separation anxiety. They should know that it is okay to be alone. It is a good idea to tire out your pets before leaving them, so that they fall asleep eventually. Provide them with puzzle treats to keep them busy and entertained.
Most dogs will sleep through the night, if you have a night shift. The best possible solution is to leave them under supervision. You could leave them at a pet crèche or hire someone to keep them during the day. Or even better, get two dogs or two cats so that they can keep each other company.