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Urethritis in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra due to injury, infection or cancer. The urethra swells and narrows, and the flow of urine is impeded. Both urination and the urgency to urinate increase. It is seen in both dogs and cats. Depending on the cause of urethritis, different age, breed and sex of dogs and cats may be affected.

Causes

  • Bacteria
  • Trauma
  • Stones, catheterization
  • Chronic active granulomatous urethritis
  • Associated with cystitis (bladder infection/inflammation), vaginitis (vaginal infection/inflammation), prostatitis (prostate infection/inflammation)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause)

    What to Watch For

  • Straining to urinate (stranguria)
  • Bloody urination (hematuria)
  • Frequent urination (pollakiuria)
  • Discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Bleeding from the vagina or penis
  • Inability to urinate
  • Painful abdomen

    Diagnosis

  • Rectal palpation may reveal a thick, irregular urethra.

  • Baseline tests to include a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemical profile are usually normal, unless the individual is anemic due to excessive blood loss or has high kidney enzymes secondary to severe inflammation causing a urinary blockage.

  • A urinalysis may show high numbers of red and white blood cells, and occasionally, bacteria.

  • A urine culture and sensitivity is recommended on all patients.

  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) may be normal or reveal stones lodged in or near the urethra.

  • A contrast cystourethrogram, which is a dye study of the bladder and urethra, is often helpful in diagnosing urethritis.

  • Urethral cytology in which cells are retrieved from the urethra and analyzed may be obtained using a catheter and saline. It may help determine if there is underlying cancer.

  • Urethral biopsy is the only definitive means of making a diagnosis of urethritis and possibly identifying an underlying cause.

    Treatment

    Treatment is based on the underlying cause:

  • Remove any trauma that may be causative, such as stones or catheters.

  • Treat bacterial infections properly.

  • Address underlying cancer as indicated by surgery, radiation or chemotherapy

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs are indicated in cases of idiopathic chronic active granulomatous urethritis.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Monitor the patient's ability to urinate. Contact your veterinarian at once if there are concerns. Administer all medication as directed by your veterinarian and return for follow up as directed.

    Addressing underlying causes at once may help prevent urethritis. Since the cause is unknown, there is no known preventative for idiopathic urethritis.

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