My Cat Can’t Pee- Part Two

Earlier we discussed some of the signs and risk factors for a urethral blockage in a cat.  In part two of this series, we will look at how it is treated and some tips on prevention.

Once again, if you are reading this because you have an immediate concern with your cat, answer these questions. Is your cat male?  Have you seen it pee in the last 24 hours? Or found evidence of your cat urinating?  Is your cat yowling in pain and making frequent trips to the litter box or just sitting in the litter box?  If this sounds like your cat, take your cat to your veterinarian immediately!!  A cat with a urethral blockage is a true emergency.  Left untreated, your cat will pass away.  There are no at home remedies that will fix this situation.  Your cat needs immediate professional veterinary treatment.

How is a urethral blockage treated?

If your cat cannot pee, it needs veterinary care; plain and simple.  The first step in treatment is assessing the cat.  A urethral blockage can get very severe, very quickly.  Uremia and heart concerns can quickly develop and be life threatening!  In these situations, step one is to stabilize the cat and provide pain relief.

Once the patient is stable, we begin unblocking their urethra.  This typically involves sedating the cat and then passing a catheter from the exit of their urethra towards their bladder.  This step can be very challenging in some cases, depending on the extent of the blockage.  This must be done very carefully as to not further damage the urethra.

Once the patients are able to pass urine, the goal is to keep them doing this on their own.  A variety of medications is necessary to bring down inflammation and relax the muscles of the urethra.  Proper hydration is also vital to keep urine flowing and flushing out that bladder.  In vet school we are often told, “the solution to pollution is dilution”.  This is very true for an inflamed bladder full of urinary crystals; we want as much urine passing thru as possible to flush that out.

How can I prevent urinary issues in my cat? 

  1. Increase Water Intake
  • Feed a canned diet. Canned diets are much higher in moisture than dry kibble and can greatly increase your cat’s water intake.
  • Water fountain. Many cats will drink more from a re-circulating water bowl.  Some cats also have the same effect with dripping tap water or water droplets on the side of the shower.  Experiment to see what your cat likes!
  • Multiple water bowls, in multiple locations. One very common error is only having one small water dish.  Cats are very particular.  Try many different sizes of water dishes in many locations in your house.  You should always have multiple dishes out and full for your cat.  Most commonly I find that cats like very large diameter bowls filled quite full.  Some cats hate having their whiskers touch the edge or feel like they are burying their head down in the bowl if it’s empty.
  1. Reduce Stress
  • Cats like routine. Anything that disrupts their daily rituals and routines can cause stress.  Be mindful of this with house renovations, visiting guests, etc.
  • Encourage normal cat behaviours. Cats are meant to hunt and scratch.  Trying to stop this is trying to interfere with their hard-wired instincts.  Instead, provide appropriate options within the home.  Toys and treat dispensers can be great things that can be “hunted” when placed around the house.  Provide a variety of scratch posts of differing textures and materials.  Lookout spots out a tall window are also fantastic thru the eyes of a cat!
  • Keep the litter box clean. Cats like clean litter boxes.  And you should have more than 1! As a rule, the number of cats + 1 is how many litter boxes your home should have.  And they need to be spread out.  Three litter boxes all in the utility room is just one litter box according to your cat.
  • Feli-way is a great product for helping to reduce anxiety and stress in cats.  If you are having any urinary issues at all, I suggest you try it! 
  1. Urinary Diets
  • A urinary diet certainly may be appropriate for your cat if there have been documented urinary issues. These diets help to optimize the pH of the urine and prevent crystals from forming in the bladder.  They can also help promote flushing of the bladder
  • Urinary diets are best discussed with your veterinarian to see if they are a fit for your cat. Not all urinary issues are the same, so it’s important to understand the true underlying cause.

If you think your cat is having trouble urinating, do not hesitate to contact Cumberland Veterinary Clinic.  This is an emergency!! We are able to help treat your cat immediately and formulate a plan to help prevent future episodes.

Written by Dr. Mike Bugg