Recently, Newton had to take a trip to the vet. He hopped right into his beloved Sleepypod carrier, but that’s where his enthusiasm ended for the adventure. He had expected he would get to snooze the morning away in it at home, not take a car ride.
Newton: This is not my happy face.
It was really important for him to go, though, because he was having some litterbox issues, and we needed to know if they indicated a medical problem.
Lots of people think that when a cat goes outside the box, it is because they are “bad cats,” but it is often because something is wrong with their health. Since litterbox issues are the number one reason that cats get relinquished to shelters, it’s extra-important to check for medical reasons behind not using the litterbox.
Of course, Newton isn’t in any danger of being relinquished to a shelter, but that didn’t excuse him from getting checked out by the vet.
He was cheerfully greeted by name by our vet’s welcome sign in the lobby.
But for some reason, that still didn’t impress him. The best part of visiting an all-cat vet is that everyone who comes in loves cats. Newton got lots of admiration while we waited for our exam room.
Newton: I would rather greet my admirers in the comfort of home, if you don’t mind.
After an exam and discussion with the vet, it was time for X-rays and some tests to see what was going on. While we waited for Newton’s turn at the X-ray machine, he stretched his legs. He was especially interested in the door to the back. Any time someone went through it, he wanted to follow them.
Newton: Let’s make a break for it out that door!
He got his wish when he went to get his X-rays and have his urine drawn.
The X-ray didn’t show any stones, so we had to look at urinalysis to see what was going on.
It turns out Newton has struvite crystals in his urine, and the pH of his urine is 8.5
pH is a measurement of the molar of hydrogen ions in a solution, and it indicates how acidic or alkaline the solution is. Lower pH values indicate more acidic materials. Battery acid has a pH of 1. Higher pH values indicate more alkaline materials. Lye has a pH of 13.
A cat’s urinary pH should be 6.0 to 6.5, or slightly acidic. This make sense when you think about which foods are acidic and which are alkaline. A cat’s diet is made of meats, which are acidic foods.
Yet for some reason, Newton’s urine was more alkaline, even though he eats a raw diet.
But Newton also eats treats, and those were primarily the crunchy style that is made mostly of grains. He also steals the kibbles that Pierre gets as bedtime treats. So there was no way to say that Newton’s diet was really free of plant material that could be causing his urinary pH to climb.
Step one for Newton is going cold-turkey off of anything with plant material in it. He’ll have to wave goodbye to his crunchy treats as they go in the bin to be donated to a local rescue. We’re hoping that will get his urinary pH back where it needs to be so that he can can start dissolving the struvite crystals in his urine that were making him go outside the box.
Newton: Can we go home now?
Hopefully he’ll be feeling better in no time. We’ll let you know what happens…
wikimedia commons/Hans Kirkendoll