Biggs' Bladder Battle

$2,345 of $2,500 goal

Raised by 65 people in 11 days
Rod William Hannah  WHITE PLAINS, MD
This is the story of Biggs Pawlighter, our furry moral support behind the webcomic, Blue Milk Special. Our cat, Biggs, is the unsung hero behind the creative team, and he's in a battle for his life at the moment. :-(

We got back from the emergency vet clinic at about 2 am. Biggs (our cat, not Biggs Darklighter, his namesake) had been howling in pain on and off since Saturday afternoon. We were really scared and couldn't work out what was causing his dramatic change in behavior. Although he has a wonderfully loving temperament and personalty around us at home, he turns into a wild little demon whenever we step through the door with him at the vet clinics. So bad that he actually savaged our regular vet's hand and the guy had to get it bandaged up.  They prescribed gabapentin to help prepare and relax him for future vet visits.

So we gave him one of the tablets with the plan to take him to the only place that was open on Saturday, which was the emergency clinic. However, he seemed to be doing a lot better on the drug and slept most of the afternoon and evening. Our hand was forced when we finally started to get a clue what was wrong. We noticed he was constantly licking at his privates, which confirmed our suspicion he was having some sort of trouble going to the bathroom. Which was a potentially fatal situation for him.

And, indeed, that's what it turned out to be. He has a urinary tract blockage. Basically it has swollen up so big that he can't do anything in the litter tray. He is obviously in a mighty level of pain. According to our doctor brother-in-law, the male cat's penis is the worst invention in all of nature. Super prone to these sorts of things. You learn something new everyday. Cat penises are bad!

The vets confirmed the urinary tract blockage and put a catheter in him. Leanne called them this afternoon and the nurse said that he's a lot calmer now because he's on pain meds which is keeping him less stressed and manageable. However, he has been working his way out of the cone around his head to protect him from pulling the catheter out, which he has managed to do already. He's too clever and determined for his own good.

Right now they're waiting for his urine to clear of blood so they can take the catheter out and give him antibiotics. The doctor said once that's done he can be discharged and they'll give us a prescription for special food he will have to be on for the rest of his life which should prevent that from happening again. If we chose not to give him this prescription diet, then it is much more likely the urinary blockage would occur again. Future options would be to basically change his plumbing so that he no longer uses his male cat bits to pee and does it all via the backdoor exit. A major op in terms of cost, no doubt. So we prefer the idea of the diet and we're sure Biggs does too.

Biggs should come out of this fine, we hope. Provided things don't somehow deteriorate, and there aren't any other issues. But the house is lonely, and there's always that fear that something could still go wrong.

Unfortunately, the worst case estimate for the costs of what it has taken to save Biggs' life, has come to pass. He will have to stay for a second day under observation and hooked up to a different catheter. All up, it will be $2500 dollars. We could almost buy our own ship for that! And I'd pilot it. I'm not such a bad pilot myself. Anyway, I was floored. So I'm opening up a GoFundMe campaign called Biggs' Bladder Battle. If anyone is able to contribute, it will be of great help to us in weathering this unexpected family crisis. Any little bit would help. If you can donate more than $20 we will send you a signed BMS postcard. Make sure to include your mailing address.

So, we're very tired, very broke, and very worried about the little guy. When we left him he was not happy and was struggling with his medical hook ups. He's the furry moral support behind Blue Milk Special. The unsung hero. :-/

We need your help and Biggs needs our help. Urgently. :-/

I will post updates and pictures as soon as I can.
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Update 13
Posted by Rod William Hannah
1 day ago
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For those of you with a bit of Star Wars knowledge, I guess we could call Biggs' urinary issues "Kaiburr Crystals". Anyway, since that will no doubt be lost on many of our non-Star Wars, non-Geek friends, I'll get on with the update.

Yes, I'm in a better mood now that we have 24 hours between us and our last stay at the Emergency Animal Clinic. Biggs has been exhibiting even more of his pre-Bladder-Blockage personality. He hasn't shown any signs of pain using the litter tray today, and he's been very cooperative in taking his wide range of medications.

Most encouragingly, he finally sought out food on his own inclination, rather than having to be coaxed, or force-fed. Yes, our little Biggsy is seemingly on the mend. Hopefully, the added antibiotics are helping with his bladder infection. We want to see another day of positive signs before we really start to push the idea of major surgery to the back of the mind. But I feel encouraged.

The little guy is super affectionate. Perhaps he appreciates being home and not at the vet's. He even took a nip at my foot earlier. A playful, harmless love bite, which a few weeks ago would have been annoying, but it's funny how a health scare can make you re-evaluate how you respond to cheeky behavior.

Last night, I ended up sleeping on the couch (this happens every so often when my neck is really bad, and I don't want to keep Leanne up by tossing and turning and fidgeting all night). I woke up to find Biggs was sleeping by my head. In fact, he was resting his forehead against mine.

I don't know what could make him more lovable.

In fact, just a few minutes ago, he did a forward roll and landed in a position in which he began to lick his privates. It was impressive. The sort of move that couldn't be planned... or could it?

I appreciate the advice we are being given. Please do leave your comments on the Campaign wall. One comment I find especially interesting from Candi Crushe is the difference between bottled water and regular filtered tap water on the formation of crystals (Kaiburr Crystals! - Star Wars ref) in the bladder / urinary tract. We will make that adjustment and hope we are eliminating another possible cause for his sudden onset at the age of only three years old.

We have had some recent donations from friends, and long time supporters that have pushed us very close to our goal of $2500. As mentioned previously, the costs ballooned well above that number during Biggs' treatment, but if we can reach the goal, then we are in a much better place to survive this month financially.

Thank you to everyone for being so damn awesome and supportive and super decent people. It means a lot to know others care and are thinking of us.

As for the BMS postcards we promised to those BMS readers who donated $20 and up, please email me your address at rod.hannah@gmail.com so we can get those mailed out to you at the start of next week. Thanks to all of you!
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Update 12
Posted by Rod William Hannah
2 days ago
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Things took a bad turn last night (still tonight for me, it is 4:27 am and this began at 10pm on Tuesday evening). Biggs started growling and hissing while trying to use the litter tray again tonight. I heard him once yesterday evening, and five times Tuesday afternoon / evening crying out and groaning. There was a small amount of blood yesterday among his urine. By 10 pm I was on the phone to the clinic again. We arrived back at the emergency animal clinic in Waldorf, Maryland at 10:30pm. Biggs absolutely HATES veterinarian offices. He is too simple minded to know that these people are there to help him, and goes into feral fury mode. So he had to be knocked out with gas for a thorough examination and urinalysis back in the operating room.

While the doctor examined Biggs we took his advice to head to the closest grocery store open until midnight. We picked up some 27% cranberry juice, and some tuna cans with actual tuna oil, rather than just water like most now have. A mix of both would make the cranberry juice more palatable than on its own. This should help with his urination issues, a bit like the problems humans can experience with urinary tract infections. Burning pain and frequent feeling of needing to go to the bathroom.

So, here's what we found out after 3 hours of waiting. Biggs has a bacterial infection in his bladder. The two week long lasting antibiotics shot was still active, but not hitting this particular strain of bacterial infection, so he is being given an additional range of antibiotics to help nuke them. He is also being given several other medications, from sedation and anti-inflammation, to pain relief. See the attached picture. He came home with us and he very cooperatively let us give him all his new medications orally via syringe. He's a good boy at home.

If unsuccessful, the only remaining option is to rewire his male parts and effectively make him a girl. It's an operation called P-U surgery. The op is major and there is a small chance things could go wrong. At this point it is something the doctor has asked us to think about, just in case it comes to that. The surgery is the same cost as the GoFundMe goal for his previous treatment and three day hospital stay last week. The after care, post op, will be very involved. If it comes to that, we believe we will choose to do it, and have the possibility of trading our art services for Biggs' operation. These guys are wonderful, very friendly, and superbly professional. We can't say enough good things about the team working there under Dr. Fox.

In the meantime we will work hard to help Biggs get through this latest development. Our work on our new professional comic contract has been heavily interrupted over the past week. Sleeping hasn't been easy either. We just want our little boy pain free again and back to his persistently lovable self.

I am really worried about our boy. He's my little buddy. He loves us both so much and shows it all the time. Even when we got him home and out of his cat carrier. Coming up to us and brushing our legs and head butting us lovingly, trying to scent mark us in his deliriously happy way. We've given him a better life than if he had stayed in that small cage at the humane society. I just hope he can have a much longer life as a little three year old.
All the new meds we have to give Biggs
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Update 11
Posted by Rod William Hannah
6 days ago
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Biggs is still put off his food, probably due to the medications and sedative. We are force feeding him with a syringe. He's supposed to have a full can of the medicated formula food per day, but we've only manage to give him half a can at most the last couple of days. The syringe feeding method is working better than poking clumps of food into his mouth, but it is still unpleasant seeing him in this state and having to be forceful to make sure he gets nutrition, and the right kind.

He is using the bathroom with more ease which is a huge relief. We have to stick at it and make sure his metabolism keeps moving and that he drinks. His back feels very bony, probably because he has lost of lot of weight over the past 7 days.

I'm still a little stressed and exhausted with it all. We are just under $600 from making our goal to cover his vet emergency clinic expenses. Donations have really slowed down now, so not sure if we will make it or not. But thought I'd make sure everyone who has donated knows that we would have been in a major financial and emotional crisis right now without you. Thankfully, Biggs is starting to show signs of his old self, so we feel like everything we've gone through and had to subject him to in the last week has been worth it, no matter how hard it has been.

I've found it really challenging. I had no idea how much I cared for our little guy until I saw him so defeated, like he had given up all hope. I even felt, in the back of my mind, that we were spending our last few days with him. Especially when we had to take him to our regular vet for our newer concerns after we got him back from the clinic. Even if it required another two and half thousand dollars for the surgery to give him new internal plumbing, I would have done it if it meant saving him or at least giving him a chance.

Thank you. Without you, we would be a mess.
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Update 10
Posted by Rod William Hannah
7 days ago
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We have some good news from Biggs himself.

Thank you to everyone who has been so incredibly supportive, reassuring, and encouraging as we've struggled through the past week trying to get our little boy back from the brink. But we are starting to see positive signs of progress. Hopefully we will have a full update for you tonight.

Please continue to share our story as we still have a ways to go to covering our expenses. As many of you know, we are very limited financially with only one main income in our household at the moment. The emergency clinic stay stretched on longer than the original estimate and we're already close to a total bill of $3000 when we include the visit to the regular vet, the medications and the medicate food. We still urgently need to raise funds and thanks to this campaign we feel we might actually be able to do it. We're keeping the goal at the original $2500.
Some good news from Biggs himself!
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Read a Previous Update
Candi Crushe
2 days ago

Our cat went through the same thing. He also had Struvite crystals. After multiple trips to the vet they recommended the surgery to change his urethra as well. However, we managed to change his diet enough by feeding him the Royal Canin Multifunction Calm/Urinary. We got both the dry and wet food. The calm function really seemed to help. We have multiple cats and the calm part helps him to cope with the rest. Also, he has his own feeding bowl downstairs away from the other cats. We used to give him bottled water, but found that it can have higher minerals and encourage crystal growth. Now we have a filter for our tap water that we fill his bowl with. He has being doing well for about a year now. Best of luck!

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Phillip Kite
8 days ago

Hoping for more good news. The Hills CD's is what Niro had, and he ate them without a fuss, the only side effect was the random throw up, the CD's seems to have yellow colour that stains carpet nicely! Plenty of soda water and paper towels... I am quite glad that he is home with you guys....

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Matt Wieringo
10 days ago

Poor little guy. I hope he can come home soon.

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$2,345 of $2,500 goal

Raised by 65 people in 11 days
Created April 17, 2017
VB
$25
Vicky Boardman
6 hours ago

Get well soon, Biggs!!

$15
Alice Cascorbi
21 hours ago

Our kitty Niko went through just this last Fall: first a struvite crystal blockage, then a UTI requiring hospitalization. He recovered fully. Hope your Biggsy will too.

$10
Anonymous
22 hours ago
$50
Anonymous
1 day ago
$10
Anonymous
1 day ago
$50
Julie Bottemiller
2 days ago
$25
Kat Pullen
2 days ago
MU
$50
Mike Urano
2 days ago
GD
$10
Graeme Donaldson
2 days ago
$60
Anonymous
3 days ago
Candi Crushe
2 days ago

Our cat went through the same thing. He also had Struvite crystals. After multiple trips to the vet they recommended the surgery to change his urethra as well. However, we managed to change his diet enough by feeding him the Royal Canin Multifunction Calm/Urinary. We got both the dry and wet food. The calm function really seemed to help. We have multiple cats and the calm part helps him to cope with the rest. Also, he has his own feeding bowl downstairs away from the other cats. We used to give him bottled water, but found that it can have higher minerals and encourage crystal growth. Now we have a filter for our tap water that we fill his bowl with. He has being doing well for about a year now. Best of luck!

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Phillip Kite
8 days ago

Hoping for more good news. The Hills CD's is what Niro had, and he ate them without a fuss, the only side effect was the random throw up, the CD's seems to have yellow colour that stains carpet nicely! Plenty of soda water and paper towels... I am quite glad that he is home with you guys....

+ Read More
Matt Wieringo
10 days ago

Poor little guy. I hope he can come home soon.

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