Urinary blockage, also known as urethral obstruction, is very common in cats. This makes it one of those things that you, as a proud owner of a kitten or even a grown up cat, might want to know of before it could actually happen, so it doesn’t get you by surprise.
If you notice your cat straining to urinate or maybe urinating much less urine than usual, than it might be suffering from a urinary tract obstruction. There are many reasons why your cat got a urinary blockage, with inflammation, compression on the urethra and a simple blockage being the most common ones.
Urinary blockage is something that happens mostly to male cats, but not strictly to males, since female cats can also get it, and it is something that is easily cured if you react on time and in a proper manner. Keep reading for all the facts you need to know when it comes to symptoms, treatment, and taking care of a cat recovering from blocked urethra.
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What is Urinary Blockage?
The most simple answer is that urinary blockage occurs (mostly in male cats 1-10 years old) when their urethra becomes obstructed. The reason why it’s more common in male cats is that their urethra is much longer and narrower than the urethra of female cats, and logically – the narrower a cat’s urethra is, the easier it will get blocked.
The reason a cat’s urethra might get blocked is that small obstructions like white blood cells, or bladder stones can form into a plug and block the cat’s urine exit. The complications come when the cat’s bladder gets filled to capacity and the kidneys shut down and stop producing urine, which means that the body can’t remove any toxins from the blood. A situation like this in cats might sometimes lead to kidney failure, and in the worst cases, death.
Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Blockage In Your Cat
Most of the times the earliest symptoms that an owner might notice in their cat is discomfort, frequent urination, blood in the urine or just any type of inappropriate form of urination. Believe it or not, even a cat peeing outside of the litter box might be a sign of urinary blockage.
If / Once the situation gets more complicated, it’s almost impossible not to notice that there’s something wrong with your cat – it will not be able to pee at all anymore, will probably cry a lot, move restlessly and even run away from you and hide. After a cat reaches this stadium, without receiving proper care, might die in the next 3-6 days.
What Causes Urinary Blockage in Cats
There are many reasons why a cat might get a urinary blockage, but it’s worth noting that cats that are fed dry food, kept indoors and live with one or more cats in the same household have a higher risk at getting a urinary blockage.
Urinary blockage is higher during the winter months and is usually caused by:
- Stones, crystals or debris in the bladder or urethra
- Forming of an urethral plug
- Bladder inflammation / infection
- Spinal cord problems
- Congenital abnormality
- Incontinence from excessive water drinking or weak bladder
- Injury or tumor formed in the cat’s urinary tract
The very first thing to do if you doubt or are sure that your cat has a urinary blockage is to immediately contact or visit your vet since your cat needs an immediate emergency treatment. Your vet will anesthetize your cat and place a urinary catheter into its urethra in order to force out the plug / stone stuck in the cat’s bladder.
The urinary catheter will be left in this place for 48 hours usually and after its removed, your cat will be monitored for another day in order to make sure everything is ok and the bladder doesn’t get blocked again. During all this time your cat will be given intravenous fluids (to make the cat urinate frequently) and probably some pain medication.
After going through the treatment your cat will need certain aftercare cat urinary blockage.
After receiving treatment, you will most probably be given medications for your cat and some dietary recommendations from your vet, that will help you control crystal production in your cat, as well as pain and possible infections. You might also try to learn how to feel the abdomen of your cat in order to see if its bladder is firm and obstructed.
The next week or two are the most important ones and your cat will need a lot of attention, because there are chances of re-blocking, since the urologic syndrome that caused the very first blockage is still continuing and can cause a new blockage.
If you notice that your cat has been losing appetite or vomiting, you should contact your vet immediately, so they can tell if there are some post treatment complications or a new blockage. In the majority of cases the blockage will not happen again and your cat will most probably not need any continuing medication once it has fully recovered. But in very rare cases, if your cat’s bladder has over-stretched or has been permanently damaged, your cat might need to get some special medication that will help it empty the bladder normally.
Also, the cat behavior after urinary blockage, while undergoing treatment, as well as once the treatment has ended might change, and your cat might act strange and different to their usual self. Hopefully all goes well and they go back to normal behaviour in no time, once all the pain and stress is gone.
Urinary blockage can be very difficult to deal with and can even lead to death, but if noticed on time and if your cat gets immediate treatment, there’s no need to panic. If the symptoms are recognised in the earlier stages, there are very little chances for complications, and once your cat gets proper treatment from your vet, it will get better in only a few weeks.
Of course, don’t forget that once your cat gets treatment you still need to pay a lot of attention and monitor its behaviour closely for the next 7-14 days in order to make sure it is recovering properly and that there are no signs of re-blockage. With all that said I really do hope that your little friend is back to its normal health in no time.