What Causes Urinary Blockage
Urinary blockage can be caused by one or a combination of the following:
- Bladder & urethral stones
- Untreated urinary tract infections
- Stress-induced spasm of the urethra
Male cats are at higher risk for urinary blockage, especially those that are overweight. It occurs more commonly in neutered male cats, but it can also happen to cats that are not neutered. Cats who have anxiety or high stress are also more at risk for getting a urinary blockage.
Care After A Blockage
After your cat has blocked once, there is a chance they will block again. To prevent this happening, you will need to follow your vets advice and make some changes to your cats lifestyle and diet. These changes may include:
- Feeding a special food
- Encouraging them to drink more
- Medication to treat infection, pain, spasm or crystals.
Its very important to keep an eye on your cats toileting habits if they have suffered a blocked bladder in the past.
Your vet may ask you to collect a urine sample from your cat and bring it to check up appointments. Watch our video below on collecting a urine sample from your cat.
Urethral Obstruction In Male Cats
RVT, VTS | The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center
Courtney works at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center in the Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care department. She graduated from Columbus State Community College in 2006 and obtained her VTS in Anesthesia and Analgesia in 2005. Courtney has several publications to her credit. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and two daughters.
Urethral obstruction is a potentially life-threatening emergency. Male cats are more prone to obstruction than female cats.1 When the urethra becomes partially or completely blocked, urine is unable to drain from the bladder, resulting in fluid, electrolyte, and acidbase abnormalities.2 Feline urethral obstruction is a relatively common condition, accounting for up to 10% of feline cases presented to small animal referral and emergency clinics.3,4
Editors Note: This article was originally published in May 2016. Please use this content for reference or educational purposes, but note that it is not being actively vetted after publication. For the most recent peer-reviewed content, see our issue archive.
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Why Is My Cat Lying In The Litter Box
If your cat has been lying in the litter box a lot lately, it might point to stress or illness, but its not always a sign of urinary tract issues. In addition to lying in the litter box, cats with UTIs or other urinary problems will strain, lick at their genitals, hide, meow in the box, and look restless.
If your cat is lying in the litter box and also exhibiting these behaviors, theres a good chance that a UTI or other urinary tract issue is to blame.
Among cats with urinary tract problems, this behavior appears to result from a mix of stress and, perhaps, a need to stay in the box just in case something changes. Imagine feeling like you had to urinate for hours but couldnt get everything outwouldnt you stay near the toilet?
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How Is A Urinary Blockage Diagnosed And Treated
Once you arrive at the vet, the doctor will do an exam on your cat. In addition to an exam, your vet may also need to take X-rays, get a urine sample, and do a blood test to make a diagnosis.
If there is an obstruction to the urinary tract, the vet will sedate your cat and insert a catheter in the urethra to flush out the blockage and the bladder. In some cases, stones have to be pushed back into the bladder. Your vet will then perform surgery to remove the bladder stones.
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What Are The Signs Of Flutd
Lets start at the beginning. How do you know if your cat has bladder problems? Chances are your cat will be uncomfortable passing urine and show one or all of the following signs:
- Repeated squatting
- Excessive licking of the rear end
In this video, Dr. Alyssa Mourning discusses FLUTD and how to recognize the clinical signs:
Life And Death Blocked Bladders In Cats And Dogs
A blocked bladder or urethral obstruction is a potentially life-threatening condition. The term means partial or complete blockage of the urethra, which is the tube that runs from the bladder to the external genitalia. In male dogs and cats, the urethra is longer and narrower than in females, making males more prone to this condition. A blockage can have various causes.
Why does it happen?
In cats, the blockage is commonly related to inflammation of the bladder and urethra, which results in the build-up of mucus, inflammatory debris and blood clots in the urethra. This inflammation can be related to stress or sometimes a urinary tract infection. The debris often accumulates in the bladder over time and can get stuck in the urethra when the cat tries to urinate. When a blockage occurs, no further urine can be passed, allowing waste which would normally be removed by urination to build up in the bloodstream. This is why cats can become so unwell so quickly if the urethra is obstructed.
In dogs, the most common cause of urethral obstruction is urinary stones . These stones usually form in the bladder and can be caused by genetic abnormalities or urinary tract infection. In some cases, these stones will get stuck in the urethra when the dog passes urine. The result is the same the dog will be unable to pass any more urine and can become seriously unwell.
How do I know if my cat or dog has a urethral obstruction?
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Preventing Male Cat Urinary Blockage
Unfortunately, once a male cat has a urinary blockage, there’s a higher risk of it happening again. At the first sign of urinary issues, you should have a conversation with your vet about selecting proper nutrition to better support your cat’s urinary health to reduce the risk of recurring issues. In highly recurrent cases it’s also possible for your vet to suggest a cat urethrostomy a surgery that creates an opening in the urethra above the blockage to allow for normal urine drainage.
Water consumption is an important part of flushing debris from your cat’s system and preventing blockage try offering them water from a drinking fountain instead of a bowl, flavoring a second water bowl with some tuna juice and switching them to canned food if they currently eat dry food.
Nutrition can also play an important role in preventing blockage. If your cat already experiences urinary health issues, then a therapeutic cat food may help dissolve your cat’s crystals or make it less likely they form new ones and maintain a healthy urine pH that contributes to overall urinary health. This food is available through your veterinarian and should be fed under the supervision of a vet ask your vet if a Prescription Diet cat food might be right for your cat..
What Are The Causes Of Urinary Blockage In Cats
There can be many different causes of urinary blockage in cats, but the most common are urinary crystals, stones and inflammatory plugs.
A study of cats with urinary blockages found that 60% had urethral inflammatory plugs, 20% had stones, and < 5% had urethral strictures or cancer. The remainder of the cases were idiopathic with no underlying cause. The most common cause of urethral plugs that can lead to urinary blockage in cats is feline idiopathic cystitis.
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What If My Cat Is Not Peeing But Is Acting Normal
Urinary tract issues usually come with behavioral changes, but there are exceptions to this rule. If your cat cant pee but is still eating, sleeping, and playing normally, youre one of the lucky ones. You noticed the issue before it spiraled out of control.
But even without other signs of illness, a cat who isnt peeing is at risk of serious health consequences. Bring your cat to a veterinarian as soon as you can.
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Treating Urinary Tract Problems
If you see warning signs of a urinary tract infection in your cat, its important to see a veterinarian. If a UTI is the prime suspect, your vet may recommend a common antibiotic even before receiving results from your cats urine test.
With a vets diagnosis in hand, you still play a crucial part in helping treat your cat at home. If your vet has prescribed an antibiotic, youll need to make sure to give all the medicine for as long as recommended.
If your cat is diagnosed with a bacterial condition, it is imperative that you give the medication exactly as instructed, says Kathryn Primm, DVM at Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, Tennessee. Otherwise, you risk only killing the part of the bacteria that are most susceptible to the drug and leaving the others to reproduce.
How long your cat is on antibiotics for a UTI is best determined by your vet. If youre having trouble giving your cat the medicine, let the vet know. Pills or liquids are options, but an unfinished round of antibiotics may give the bacteria a chance to return, and stronger bacteria can also lead to new drug-resistant strains that harm humans and pets.
If the antibiotics for your cats UTI are not working, your vet may prescribe a different antibiotic or recommend further testing to see if theres another cause for the problem. UTI treatment costs vary depending on the testing and medicine necessary to get your cat healthy and feeling better.
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Cystitis And Lower Urinary Tract Disease In Cats
Cystitis is a general term referring to inflammation in the urinary bladder. The term cystitis does not imply a specific underlying cause. In cats, diseases of the lower urinary tract are often grouped under the term feline lower urinary tract disease . The initial diagnosis of FLUTD is based on the identification of signs of lower urinary tract inflammation.
Preventing Future Utis In Your Cat
Following your vet visit, you can make other changes to your cats life to decrease the likelihood for FLUTD to come back. Environmental recurrence has shown to reduce the recurrence rate by 80 percent, and can also help your cat use her litter box. This includes spending more time with your cat, giving her access to windows, and giving her more toys. You can also increase the number of litter boxes in your home and make sure theyre properly cleaned.
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What Causes Urinary Obstructions In Cats
The most common cause of a urinary obstruction is when the urethra becomes blocked by mucus and inflammatory cells. Additional causes include bladder stones, urethral inflammation and spasms, narrowing or scarring of the urethra, as well as cancer. Cats who have a history of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease are prone to urinary obstructions.
Some of the risk factors associated with the development of a urinary blockage include being fed a predominantly dry food diet, being overweight, anxiety and stress, and living in a multi-cat household. Common cat stressors include new people or pets in the household, competition for resources within the household, seeing other cats outside, construction or other loud noises, or changes in their environment, including moving furniture, changing litter box location or litter type.
How Can Pu Surgery Help My Cat
If your cat’s condition can’t be fixed using standard treatment options such as pushing the blockage away with a catheter, or your cat is prone to urinary blockages, a surgical procedure called perineal urethrostomy may be the option your vet decides is best.
This procedure is designed to make the urethra wider, thus allowing potential blockages to pass through rather than getting stuck. This surgery reduced the risk of future blockages but does not guarantee that they will never get an obstruction again.
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My Cat Cant Pee Feline Urethral Obstruction: Be Prepared
Our mission is to help save dogs’ and cats lives through our educational content. To support our efforts, this page may contain affiliate links. We earn a commission for qualifying purchases at no cost to you.
In the article Feline Urethral Obstruction: Be Aware I covered the what of urethral obstruction. In this article, Ill be detailing the things you should know to be prepared for in the event of a urethral obstruction. Hopefully, youll never need this information, but as with most things in life, it’s best to have it and know it’s here if you do. After all, when it comes to feline urethral obstruction, your cats life is truly at stake.If youve ever had a cat that has suffered a urethral obstruction you can help me help others by taking a minute or two to fill out an online survey about pet owner experiences with this condition. It’s completely anonymous and only takes a minute or two to complete. Thank you in advance.
What Is Perineal Urethrostomy Surgery
A perineal urethrostomy is a surgical procedure that is most commonly performed on male cats with a urinary obstruction. This procedure removes the narrowest part of the urethra , allowing easier urination with a lower risk of reobstruction.
Less commonly, perineal urethrostomy may also be performed in cats with severe urethral trauma. By allowing urine to exit the body before it reaches the damaged part of the urinary tract , your veterinarian can ensure that complications such as scar tissue or infection do not cause a urinary obstruction for your cat.
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How Would A Cat Get A Bacterial Infection
Like humans, cats encounter thousands of bacteria every day. Most of these are harmless , and your cats immune system will protect them from infection.
However, if your cat encounters a pathogenic bacterium and their immune system is not able to fight it off, they may develop a bacterial infection. Common sources of bacterial infection include contaminated food and water, or being in contact with another animal that has a contagious bacterial infection.
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What About Home Remedies For Urinary Tract Infection In Cats
Many cat owners stress about the cost of seeking veterinary treatment when their cat is ill. You might be tempted to search cat urinary tract infection home remedies and want to attempt to treat your cats urinary tract infection at home.
This is not a good idea.
There are no home remedies that can resolve a bacterial urinary tract infection or address a serious urinary blockage. Cat urinary tract infection treatment and recovery will be easier if you seek help early.
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How Can Cat Pu Surgery Help
If your cat’s condition can’t be fixed with standard treatment options like pushing the blockage away with a catheter, or if your cat is prone to urinary blockages, your vet may recommend a surgical procedure called perineal urethrostomy .
The purpose of this procedure is to widen the urethra, allowing potential blockages to pass through rather than becoming stuck. This surgery decreased the likelihood of future blockages, but it does not guarantee that they will never have another.
When To Contact Your Vet
Contact your vet immediately for an emergency appointment if your cat is having difficulty passing urine. Never wait to see if your cat improves left untreated a blocked bladder can cause death.
You know your cat if youre concerned its always best to contact your vet.
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What Is The Prognosis For Cats With Urinary Blockage
The prognosis for cats with urinary blockage is generally good if the obstruction is treated promptly. However, urinary blockages can recur and some underlying causes may not be able to be completely resolved. Your veterinarian will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is best for your cat.
Overall, the good news is that studies have shown a favourable prognosis for most cats. Using traditional treatment protocols, the survival rate to discharge is reported as high as 95%.
Diagnosis Of Urinary Obstructions In Cats
A veterinarian can diagnose a urinary obstruction based on clinical signs as well as by feeling your cats bladder. When felt, the cats bladder is large and firm, and cannot be emptied with gentle pressure. It is usually painful when the abdomen is touched.
Once a blockage is confirmed, your veterinarian will typically conduct baseline blood work to check your cats kidney values and electrolyte levels, which will help determine the overall effect the blockage has had on their body.
Several other diagnostic tests will also be recommended to help determine the underlying cause and address any secondary concerns if needed. A urinalysis and urine culture is usually performed to check for crystals as well as a urinary tract infection . A radiograph or ultrasound of the bladder may be performed to rule out the presence of stones and check for any other abnormalities. Your veterinarian may also take your cats blood pressure or conduct an EKG to check for abnormal heart rhythms, depending on the severity of the condition.
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What Causes Urethral Obstruction
Several underlying conditions can cause obstruction of the narrow urethra of a male cat, including:
- A plug in the urethra this is usually an accumulation of proteins, cells, crystals and debris in the bladder that accumulates and lodges in the urethra
- A small stone or an accumulation of very small stones these form in the bladder but may become lodged in the urethra
- Swelling and spasm of the urethra during inflammation of the bladder and urethra, whatever the cause, the inflammation may cause swelling of the wall of the urethra which may contribute to blockage, and in a number of cases the inflammation and irritation causes the muscle around the urethra to go into spasm this too can cause obstruction if the cat is not able to relax the muscle.