Cat Urethral Obstruction

Urethral obstruction is a condition that occurs due to disorders of the urinary tract and the bladder. Although this condition may occur in all breeds, it's more common in male cats as they have a narrow urethra. Urethral obstruction is likely to occur if feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is not treated in time.

What Is FLUTD?

FLUTD is term used to describe several urinary tract diseases or conditions. Cats that develop crystals in the urine exhibit several symptoms of urinary tract disease. The bladder may become enlarged and distended or smaller in size. The symptoms of FLUTD include vomiting, straining to urinate and frequent urination.

What Is Urethral Obstruction?

Cats eliminate urine from the body through a tube known as the urethra. Urethral obstruction occurs when the cat's urethra becomes blocked due to uroliths or urethral plugs. Uroliths are urinary stones that are made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate or calcium oxalate. Uroliths can be formed due to various factors such as the diet, virus, bacteria and stress. Urethral obstructions are either partial or complete. Obstructions that are complete require immediate medical care to prevent death.

Causes of Urethral Obstruction

The most common cause of urine obstruction in cats is attributed to struvite formation in the urine. Vets may prescribe diets that will boost the acidic level in pet urine which reduces struvite and crystal formation. Pets that experience urethral obstructions exhibit certain warning signs or symptoms.

Symptoms of Feline Urethral Obstruction

All common symptoms of FLUTD:

  • Cats frequently lick the penis
  • Noticeably protruded penis
  • Cat cries out when urinating
  • Frequent urination with little or no urine produced
  • Blood in the urine
  • Sand like crystals surrounding the penis

Risk of Urethral Obstruction

The urethra performs the function of eliminating toxins from the body. During a urethral obstruction the toxins and urine get stored in the pet's body and cause an incorrect fluid balance which eventually leads to death. Electrolyte imbalance is the main reason why prompt treatment is essential.

Treatment of Urethral Obstruction

A procedure known as catheterization is performed soon after diagnosis of urethral obstruction. Cats that suffer from an obstruction generally remain unconscious. However, pets that are still conscious require anesthesia for the procedure to be conducted. The cat will be hospitalized and a catheter or tube is inserted inside the urethra to release the obstruction. Since pets are sedated, IV fluids are administered to maintain correct electrolyte balance. Pets that suffer from urinary infections are also treated with antibiotic medication. It's important for pet owners to notice the symptoms in time as most pets succumb to the obstruction without medical help.

Perineal Urethrostomy

Some pets that are given initial treatment for urethral obstruction, experience frequent relapse. This condition can only be treated with surgery. Perineal urethrostomy is a surgery that's performed to prevent future urethral blockage. During this procedure a new permanent opening in the urethra is created. After surgery cats require complete at home care and all pet medications should be given on time as per vet instructions. The pet will also be sedated once again during the removal of stitches post-operation.

Since urinary tract infections are common in cats, it's best to change cat litter daily and to provide pets, plenty of fresh water and appropriate cat food.