Feline urinary blockage affects male cats more often than females and must be treated as an emergency. Laboratory tests help veterinarians determine how long a cat has had a blockage. Initial treatments such as catheters can be effective and will be followed by surgical treatments if needed. Owners might need to learn how to do certain care at home, and dietary changes might be required.
When a cat first presents with feline urinary blockage, the veterinarian will do laboratory tests. These tests are done because urinary blockages can lead to kidney failure. Some medical conditions can contribute to feline urinary blockage, and the tests will reveal these conditions. The tests also can reveal whether a cat has a urinary tract infection or other disease that is hidden because of the blockage.
Initial treatment is to remove the obstruction as soon as possible. Intravenous fluids will be used to support both the cardiovascular system and the kidneys. The cat will be sedated so that a catheter can be inserted.
Hydropropulsion, a method in which saline solution is injected into the urethra, is used either to break up the blockage or to flush it back into the bladder. Some feline urinary blockages might require cystocentesis, or the use of a needle to remove urine directly from the bladder. Medication might also be used as needed to balance blood levels and treat other conditions.
In some cats, the catheter is sutured in. This is called an indwelling catheter, and it will help the cat urinate but can lead to infection. It is important that the cat is not able to get to the catheter and injure itself. After the feline urinary blockage is removed and the cat can urinate normally, the catheter can be removed. Cats usually are kept at the veterinary hospital for an additional 24 hours to ensure that they are able to urinate on their own.
Owners might have to learn how to use compression to help their cats urinate until the bladder has regained the muscle tone it lost when the cat had a blockage. The cat's diet might also need to be changed. Specially formulated foods that prevent the formation of the crystals that cause urinary blockages are available for cats that have had a blockage. Maintenance diets usually are required for the rest of the cat's life to prevent another feline urinary blockage.
If urinary blockages become a common occurrence, surgical treatment might be required. This surgery usually is done on male felines. The surgery involves the removal of the penis and the creation of an opening as large as that of a female cat's urethra. The reason this surgery is sometimes required is that a male cat's urethra is much longer and narrower than a female cat, increasing the risks of repeated urinary blockages. These surgeries usually are successful, but if there is a buildup of scar tissue or the urethra is restricted, they can fail.