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Urinary Obstruction in Cats

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm a diagnosis of FIC with urethral obstruction and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. The following diagnostic tests are often necessary:

  • Time is crucial in cats with urethral obstruction that has been present for 48 hours or longer. Therefore your veterinarian will take a brief history and perform a rapid physical exam before attempting to relieve urethral obstruction. The presence of a large, firm, painful bladder indicates an obstruction.

  • Your veterinarian may also do an Electrocardiogram (ECG) if your cat is lethargic and has a slow heart rate (bradycardia) due to high potassium concentration (hyperkalemia). These findings indicate that the cat has had an obstruction for more than 48 hours.

  • A Urinalysis will be performed on urine collected after the obstruction has been relieved. Such things as concentrated or dilute nature, pH and presence of red and white blood cells, crystals and bacteria will be determined.

  • A urine culture and sensitivity may be done to check for the presence of bacterial infection.

  • Blood chemistry tests. Several blood tests may be done to evaluate kidney function, blood potassium concentration, blood calcium concentration, acidosis, disturbances of blood sodium and chloride concentrations, and glucose concentration.

    After your cat is stable, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to exclude or diagnose other conditions that may cause urinary tract symptoms and to better understand the impact of FIC and urethral obstruction on your pet. These tests ensure optimal medical care and are selected on a case-by-case basis. Some of these may include:

  • Plain abdominal X-rays may be taken to evaluate for dense stones in the bladder such as those made of struvite or calciumjoxalate.

  • Special contrast X-ray dye studies may be done to evaluate for less dense stones, tumors or anatomical abnormalities such as outpouching of the bladder.

  • Abdominal ultrasound examination may be recommended to evaluate for less dense stones or tumors that cannot be identified on plain X-rays.

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