Posted By: Dr. Tom DeBleeckere
If you catch your cat straining to urinate this may be a sign of a urethral obstruction. This is a very serious condition that affects male cats. There are less serious conditions that can cause straining, such as inflammation of the bladder or constipation, but it is always recommended that male cats who are straining be seen at an emergency clinic right away because obstruction of the urethra is a life threatening condition.
The urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the outside world. When this is blocked, either by mucus, crystals or stones, a cat is not able to urinate. Because of this toxins, normally eliminated in the urine, begin to build up in the patient. This can become life threatening within 24 hours and the sooner the problem is addressed the better the outcome the patient will have. The following symptoms are common: straining to urinate, crying out in pain, lethargy and vomiting.
Treatment consists of several steps. First, a urinary catheter is placed into the urethra to allow the patient to urinate again. Next the patient will be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids to help eliminate the built up toxins and aid repair of any damage done to the kidneys. Many patients need 24 hours of hospitalization but some patients, who are more severely affected, can require several days in the hospital. Finally, the urinary catheter is removed, the patient is allowed to urinate on his own to ensure he has no difficulty and then he will be sent home with medications and often a diet change.
Blockage of the urethra is an emergency. If you notice your cat having symptoms call a veterinarian immediately. Although this condition is serious, it is treatable and quick action will make for a better outcome.