Urinary blockage, also known as urethral obstruction, is very common in cats. You 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 urinating much less than usual, it might be suffering from a urinary tract obstruction. There are many reasons why your cat got a urinary blockage. Inflammation, compression on the urethra and a simple blockage are the most common ones.
Urinary blockage is happens mostly to male cats, but female cats can also get it. It can be 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.
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. The narrower a cat’s urethra is, the easier it will get blocked.
A cat’s urethra might get blocked because small obstructions like white blood cells, or bladder stones can form into a plug and block the cat’s urine exit.
Complications happen when the cat’s bladder gets filled to capacity and the kidneys shut down and stop producing urine. This 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
The earliest symptoms are discomfort, frequent urination, blood in the urine or 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.
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 cry a lot, move restlessly and even run away from you and hide. After a cat reaches this stage, it might die in the next 3-6 days without proper care.
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
Incontinence from excessive water drinking or weak bladder
Injury or tumor formed in the cat’s urinary tract
The first thing to do if you are unsure if your cat has a urinary blockage is to contact or visit your vet. Your cat might need an immediate emergency treatment. Your vet will anesthetize your cat and place a urinary catheter into its urethra to force out the plug / stone stuck in the cat’s bladder.
The urinary catheter will be left in this place for 48 hours. After it’s removed, your cat will be monitored for another day 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 urinates frequently) and some pain medication. After going through the treatment your cat will need certain aftercare cat urinary blockage.
After receiving treatment, you will 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 to see if its bladder is firm and obstructed.
The next week or two are the most important ones. Your cat will need a lot of attention because there are chances of re-blocking. This is because the urologic syndrome that caused the very first blockage is still there and can cause a new blockage.
If you notice that your cat has been losing appetite or vomiting, you should contact your vet immediately. They can tell if there are some post treatment complications or a new blockage.
Usually, the blockage will not happen again and your cat will probably not need any continuing medication once it has fully recovered.
In rare cases, your cat’s bladder might have become over-stretched or permanently damaged. It 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 recognized in earlier stages, there are very little chances for complications. 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 behavior closely for the next 7-14 days. This is to make sure it is recovering properly and that there are no signs of re-blockage.
As an established writer in the Pet industry for the last 7 years and building a career at a couple of reputable Californian vets, Leigh has written countless pet articles to contribute to the industry's wealth of knowledge. She is dedicated to helping readers and enjoys nothing more than exploring the outdoors with her children and pets. Find out more.