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Posted By: Sarah - Vet

Custard gets a tiny stone in his bladder

We always feel a huge responsibility when someone entrusts the care of a much loved pet to us, as pet owners ourselves we realise we are treating one of the family. When it is your own pet, it brings that responsibility sharply into focus and reminds you of the whole range of emotions that people feel when leaving a pet with us.

Meet Custard (or Ambrosia Custard Pot to give him his full title,) who came into our lives and stole our hearts nine years ago.  Born feral, he is a mass of soppy purring ginger fur…until you try and do something he objects to. He likes to cram himself into the most uncomfortable-looking  spots, as you can see.  

A while ago, he had a couple of episodes of trouble urinating. This is a problem that can occur in male cats as the urethra, along which urine passes from the bladder is narrow and not straight. He didn’t have a blockage either  time, and quickly passing a catheter sorted him out. When it happened again, however, I knew that something would need to be sorted out. As luck would have it I was on holiday with friends and family in Herefordshire, and while my colleagues were more than capable of caring for him, I felt he was my responsibility so took the train home, leaving the rest of the family behind.

An x-ray showed us the nature of the problem – he had a tiny stone in his bladder that was acting as a valve in the bladder neck and would need to be surgically removed. The next day, we anaesthetised him and went to pass a catheter to empty his bladder before the surgery. Unluckily, the stone had passed into the urethra during the preceding 24 hours and jammed there, blocking it. We needed to flush it back into the bladder for removal as it wouldn’t go any further down. We did this by attaching a syringe of saline to the catheter and firmly and quickly  pushing down on the plunger. Luckily, it worked first time and the stone went back into the bladder. From there, I was able to remove it via a small incision made into the bladder – so much trouble from something only 8mm in size.

After the operation, Custard had a catheter stitched in to drain his bladder for a day or two and a collar to stop him interfering with his wound. Remember the feral bit? Well, when he woke up and realised the collar was there, he simply placed both back feet into it and wrenched it over his head in a move I have never seen before or since. So, it was a night on the sofa for the two of us so that he could be closely monitored. He slept better than I did.

A few anxious days followed, he was confined to one room and I almost held my breath every time he went to the litter tray. He still attempted sabotage though by scratching the carpet up by the door so that I couldn’t get in one morning. 

Fortunately, he had an uneventful recovery and has never had a problem since. The rest of the family were overjoyed to see him when they got back and he resumed his favourite habit of lap cruising. He now eats a special food to reduce the likelihood of any new stones forming, which his brother thinks is so much tastier than his…  

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