Anyone who shares their home with a male cat should be aware of the potentially life threatening problem of urinary blockage. Urinary blockage occurs when mucus, crystals, stones, or spasms block a cat’s urethra preventing him from urinating. Male cats are prone to urinary blockage because their urethra is quite narrow and easily blocked. Urinary blockage is an emergency because the toxins that would normally be expelled in urine build up in the blood stream and make the cat very sick. It is also a very painful condition.
Early signs of urinary blockage include urinating out of the litter box; frequent trips to the litter box; straining or crying in the litter box; blood in the urine; and licking the genitals. At the later stages of obstruction there will be weakness, abnormal heart rhythm, nausea, and loss of appetite from the toxin build-up. If left untreated urinary blockage will result in a painful death.
If you think your cat may be blocked, he should be brought to a veterinarian immediately. If a blockage is confirmed, it must be relieved by placing a urinary catheter to re-establish urine flow. Supportive treatment with intravenous fluids is also important. Blood testing and x-rays are necessary to assess for damage to the kidneys and to check for bladder stones.
Urinary blockage is a very treatable disease if caught early before complications from toxin build-up occur. However, cats that have obstructed are at risk for re-obstruction, and it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for prevention and follow-up urine testing. A canned prescription diet formulated for bladder health is critical to minimizing the risk of recurrence. Efforts should also be made to encourage increased water intake, and minimize stress.