I adopted my cat Mando (yes, named after The Mandalorian) from the animal shelter in Skowhegan on Black Friday of 2020. Why Skowhegan? Well, the pandemic made finding available kittens somewhat difficult and I have found that adopting from central Maine is oftentimes more affordable than in other areas. And while it is tempting to pick up a “free” cat from your Facebook friend, I find that it’s far most cost-effective to adopt from a shelter.

When they come from the shelter they’ve seen the vet, have their shots, and are fixed. All expenses that as the adopter, you won’t have to pay for outside of the relatively small adoption fee.


Anyway, off my soapbox.

The day I went to Skowhegan to adopt I didn’t have a cat in mind. They had quite a few to choose from and once I learned that Mando, who at the time went by Tiny, was picked on by some of the other cats, I knew he was coming home with me. If memory serves, he was about 10 weeks old at the time. Freshly ready for adoption after getting fixed.

He has been such a constant source of joy in my life. A true companion. And my heart completely broke when I got home from work last week and it was obvious that he wasn’t okay.


Feeling Helpless

For some kitty TMI, it appeared that Mando was a bit constipated last week. He’d go in and out of his litter box and nothing would come out. His eating and drinking habits as well as his temperament remained normal. He eventually did “go” so overall I wasn’t terribly concerned. Come Friday, however, when he normally trots out of my room to meet me at the front door, I found him standing awkwardly by his litter box.

I got down on the floor with him and he proceeded to lay in front of me. I observed him periodically contracting his tummy and breathing rapidly. He wasn’t acting like himself at all.

I called my vet office and they didn’t have any openings but after describing what was going on they said it was likely tummy troubles adjusting from the constipation but to keep an eye on things as, worst-case scenario, it could be a urinary issue. A common, but very problematic thing for male cats.


I tried to go about my day waiting and hoping to see improvement. By the evening he started meowing an awful meow that broke my heart each time I heard it. The breathing became more rapid and he just wasn’t himself. So I decided to call Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care (PVESC) to hear what they had to say.


As soon as I described what was going on the kind woman on the other end of the call said that all of his symptoms pointed to a urinary blockage and to bring him right over.

A wave of emotion came over me. I had been crying off and on that day feeling so helpless. Now it was game time. While I was relieved to be taking a step and having a likely diagnosis, I was scared of what was to come.

They appeared to be having a slow evening so I got right in and they whisked him away to the back to check vitals and whatnot while I was trying to keep it together in the waiting room filling out paperwork.

Not long after I met with the doctor who kindly and compassionately confirmed that Mando was suffering from a urinary blockage.

He explained what they would be doing; removing the struvite crystal(s) from the urinary tract and making sure there weren’t any in the bladder. He needed a catheter and had to stay all weekend. He gently went over the costs and while my anxiety was spiking with every word worried about my boy I was prepared to do whatever it took to get him better.

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After spending almost every day and night with Mando since I got him, it was heartbreaking to walk away without him. Even worse to come home without him there.

The staff at PVESC assured me I could call at any time for updates. Not wanting to be a helicopter pet parent I decided to call in the morning and at night.

Saturday morning they said that everything was going according to plan. What a relief.

Late Saturday night another doctor called me, apologizing profusely because she was going over her charts and realized she hadn’t connected with me personally. She reiterated that everything was going well and educated me further on blockages. She said that one reason this happens is that male cats get neutered too early making the urinary tract too narrow.

I was told that as long as things continue to go to plan I should be able to bring him home Sunday evening. He was being rather “hissy” which indicated that he was certainly ready to come home and be released from his cone of shame.


Sunday afternoon I finally got the call I had been waiting for. Catheter was out and he was going pee like a champ.

I headed right over where once again I was told how ready he was about coming home. Apparently, Mando wasn’t being the friendliest.

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He is now on a couple of medications as he recovers. And he’s rocking a partially shaved leg. We’re also adjusting to a completely new life-long diet. He’s still not “going” as he should normally, but that is to be expected as he’s dealing with spasming in his bladder. As I was told as long as something is coming out things should be going in the proper direction.

I was nervous about giving him meds but he’s taking them like a champ.

It’s so nice having him back. Those two days could have easily been a week or more. I’m so happy he’s home that I wasn’t upset that he woke me up an hour early for work this morning.

I can’t thank the people at PVESC enough. Everyone was so kind and even when busy talked to me like I was the only patient, well patient’s mother, there.

As kind, caring, and thoughtful as they were, I truly hope I never have to go there again. If you find your pets in need of emergency care don’t hesitate to call and if you ever have to leave your furry friend there, know that they’re in great hands.


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