cat in litter box.

Not being able to urinate is a serious issue. If you are wondering if a blocked cat is an emergency, Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital wants you to know that the answer is a resounding yes! Do you know the signs of a blocked cat?

Why Do Cats Get Blocked?

Normally, urine is produced by the kidneys then flows down through the ureters into the urinary bladder, and then out the urethra when the time is right. Obstruction of the flow of urine on its path can have some serious consequences. 

In cats, obstruction of the urinary flow most often happens at the level of the urethra. Male cats are particularly predisposed, since their urethra is longer and more narrow than that of female cats.

Something like a urinary stone or scar tissue can cause this problem, but the more common cause for urinary obstruction is feline interstitial cystitis, or feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). 

FLUTD is an inflammatory condition of the bladder, which results in the formation of cellular debris in the bladder. This cellular debris can settle into the urethra, which forms a plug of urinary crystals, inflammatory cells, and mucus, and prevents the poor kitty from passing urine. 

Regardless of the cause of a urinary blockage, the result is serious. Feline urinary obstruction is very painful, and eventually the accumulation of waste products in the body (or a ruptured bladder) can result in death. A blocked cat is definitely a veterinary emergency

Signs of a Blocked Cat

Urinary issues in cats can present in a few different ways. It can be hard to know what the underlying problem is, but not to worry. That is where our expert staff comes in. 

Signs your cat should be examined include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent trips in and out of the litter box
  • No or little urine production
  • Vocalization
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Hiding
  • Blood in the urine
  • Licking urinary area or bell

Please make an appointment right away to be seen if you suspect your cat may be experiencing urinary trouble. 

Treatment for Lower Urinary Obstruction

When a cat has a urinary blockage, it is essential to relieve it as soon as possible. This is usually done by passing a urinary catheter to open the urethra under sedation or general anesthesia.

Once the urinary blockage is relieved, the cat will then need supportive care in order to recover. A urinary catheter is often left in place until inflammation in the bladder and urethra can resolve. Most cats also benefit from intravenous fluid administration to restore normal hydration as well as various other medications to relieve pain, inflammation, and spasms of the urethra.

Once a cat has experienced an urethral obstruction, they are at high risk of having trouble again. It is essential that we work together as a team to reduce recurrence of problems through nutritional therapy, stress reduction, and multimodal environmental enrichment. In some situations, surgery may also be recommended in order to make future obstruction less likely.

Having a blocked cat is a true emergency. Don’t delay asking for help if you have concerns. We are happy to help, and the sooner you act, the better the outcome.