Ask a Vet Archive

When it comes to your pet's health, there's no such thing as a dumb question. Search questions real clients have submitted to our popular Ask a Vet Q&A series, and then submit a question of your own.

  • Urinary Tract Blockage

    Question:
    My cat is having problems urinating. What could be the problem?

    Answer:

    Urinary tract blockage in cats is a medical emergency that requires immediate intervention. It is almost always male cats who are affected because of their anatomy. Blockage, usually occurring near the tip of the penis, is most often are caused by a buildup of mineral sediments that result from one or a combination factors including the type of food being fed, a bacterial infection and a cats individual predisposition. A “blocked” cat who doesn’t receive care will usually die within 24 hours from heart failure secondary to extremely elevated levels of potassium. Additionally when urine cannot be passed, the toxins normally excreted build up in the blood causing lethargy, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. Relieving the obstruction by passage of a urinary catheter, flushing the bladder and flushing the bloodstream with IV fluids returns blood levels to normal levels within a fairly short period of time.

    Urinary tract obstruction is a treatable disease in the short term and manageable in the long term. Depending on how much sediment has built up in the bladder it is not uncommon for cats to “reblock” in the short term and require a repeat of catheterizing and flushing. At some point a surgical procedure to remove the tip of the penis where the blockage occurs may be recommended.

    Cats who have been blocked or who are found to have sediment buildup in the bladder can be well and successfully managed by feeding prescription foods designed specifically for these cats. In multi cat household, this may require changing the diets of all cats in the family to protect an individual cat.

    Signs of urinary tract disease in cats includes frequent trips to the litter box, spending long periods of time in the litter box, straining, painful urination (meowing or hissing), excessive licking of genital area, blood in the urine, on the litter or noted on the tip of the penis.

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