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Help! My Cat Can't Pee!
Tuesday, September 04, 2018
  By: Kingsdale Animal Hospital  In: Pet Health
Help! My Cat Can't Pee!

Urinary problems can be common in cats. One of the most concerning medical problems is when a male cat cannot pee. Urinary blockage is a life-threatening condition. What you see at home is a cat straining to pee, vocalizing, meowing, or crying excessively, dribbling urine, and/or blood in the urine. The cause of this is a build up of mucus, crystal material, and/or inflammatory cells. Because the opening of the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside world) is so small, it only takes a small amount of debris to cause an obstruction. Since the cat is unable to pee, the bladder gets bigger over time and the urinary toxins build up. Within a few hours this can be life-threatening so it is very important to notice these signs and call us (or your local emergency clinic) right away!
When you bring your cat in to the clinic, the vet will have a feel of their bladder and confirm whether the cat is blocked. We will assess the cat's hydration status and level of toxin build up. The toxins that build up from the urine can cause loss of appetite and vomiting and can progress into a comatose state if left unaddressed. Sometimes the electrolytes (minerals) in the body can be affected by the toxins and the cat can develop cardiac arrhythmias.
The next step is to physically unblock the obstruction of the urethra, which is done under general anesthesia with intravenous (IV) fluid support. A urinary catheter is inserted into the urethra and slowly advanced to move the plug of debris. The bladder is flushed multiple times to clear the debris, crystals, and inflammation. Most cats can be successfully unblocked by this method. Once the plug of debris is cleared, a catheter is sewn into place and the cat remains on a urinary support and collection system for about 36-48 hours. The intravenous fluids help rehydrate the cat, support kidney function, lower toxin build up, and correct the mineral imbalance. The urinary catheter that is sewn in place and urine collection system helps support the urethra and helps kept the urethra open while it heals from the blockage. If the IV fluids and urinary support system are not done, many cats will reblock within a few hours or days from the initial presentation, that's why the follow up care is so important. Cats are discharged once they are able to reliably urinate on their own in a steady stream. Even with follow up hospitalization, a few cats reblock within a week of the first incident. When the cat is discharged from hospital, they will be sent home with medication and a special prescription diet to aid in preventing him from reblocking. The prescription diet for urinary support is recommended to be used life-long in order to prevent future episodes. Stress may be an additional risk factor for blockage so at the time of discharge we will go over various lifestyle factors to aid in preventing future episodes.


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