Your veterinarian may recommend any or all of the following diagnostics and procedures:
- Blood work to assess toxin levels and hydration status
- Urine exam to look for an infection and/or crystals
- Urine culture to determine if there is an infection and, if so, what bacteria may be responsible
- X-rays to look for bladder or urethral stones
- IV catheter placement, which allows for fluids and medications to be administered
- Urinary catheter placement, which provides a way to flush the bladder and keep it empty for several days while inflammation subsides
Treatment involves IV fluids, antibiotics, medications to relax the urethra in order to allow material to pass through it
In some cats surgery may be required to remove bladder stones. If cats repeatedly “block” a surgery called a “P.U.” or a perineal urethrostomy and be performed. For more information, please read perineal urethrostomy. This surgery makes the urethral opening permanently larger, thus reducing the risk of future obstructions.
Vet Tip: If your cat does block, you should discuss with your vet if he/she thinks your cat is a good candidate for a P.U. Many vets are hesitant to mention this initially, as the cost to hospitalize a blocked feline can easily reach $1,000. Sadly, if vets initially disclose that the condition might later require a P.U. surgery, yet another pricey invoice, many pet parents choose euthanasia. Please forgive us if your veterinarian doesn't mention this. If you were faced with cat owners choosing euthanasia after learning that this isn't a one-time solution, you would quickly learn to keep your mouth shut and only initiate that discussion when and if it is applicable.
Can Feline Urinary Blockages Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to prevent feline urethral obstructions, as it is not always known what causes them in the first place. Diet, water intake, bladder infections and obesity can have a role in the formation of urinary stones and sludge which cause the urinary blockage.
Bladder infections may have a role in the formation of urinary sediment, stones, and scar tissue, so infections should be treated promptly.
Increasing water intake may also be beneficial. Don't forget to leave fresh water for your pets at all times. Running fountains also encourage many cats to drink more water, but some cats refuse to use these fountains all together.
Several diets can help reduce the risk of feline urethral obstruction in cats that are prone to this problem. Your veterinarian can tell you if your cat should be on a special diet to reduce the risk of feline urethral obstruction. Wet diets are recommended because they are higher in water, and therefore keep the urine more dilute.
Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is a final way to help prevent the chance of feline urethral obstruction. Though we don't quite understand the connection, overweight neutered male cats represent the majority of blocked pets.