Urinary blockage is almost exclusively a problem reserved for male cats, and occurs when the urethra becomes obstructed. The urethra is the “tube” that drains urine from the bladder out of the penis, and it is very long and narrow. When the urethra is completely blocked, and the cat has filled his bladder to capacity, his kidneys stop making urine as there is nowhere for it to go. With kidney “shut down” the body is no longer able to remove toxins from the blood or maintain a proper balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body, resulting in kidney failure and eventually death if left untreated.
Initially cats may show signs of urinary tract inflammation, such as straining to urinate, frequent urination, blood in the urine, painful urination, or inappropriate urination (urinating somewhere other than the litter box). Once the cat becomes obstructed (blocked), they may attempt to urinate in the litter box but will produce only drops of urine or no urine at all. They may cry, move restlessly, or hide because of discomfort. Eventually they will lose their appetites, generally begin to vomit, and become lethargic. Complete obstruction can cause kidney failure in as little as 24 hours, and potentially death in as little as 48 hours.
Prognosis for recovery is often excellent if treated appropriately and in time. If sudden kidney failure does develop as a result of the obstruction, it is generally reversible and will get “back in check” with IV fluid therapy support. It is crucial to realize that the cat is at risk for re-blocking for a good week or two from the time of discharge. This is because the irritation syndrome that led to blocking in the first place is still continuing, and as long as the episode continues, blocking is a possibility.
We hope that this case study has been helpful in teaching you about this disease. If you have any questions or concerns about the blog, please do not hesitate to contact us at Pekin Veterinary Clinic. Please check back next month for our November case of the month!!