It’s a common idea that male cats love to spray and struggle throughout their lifetime to ever use a litterbox appropriately. While this is taken as common knowledge and just the way male cats are, the fact is that this behavior is often related to other issues. In particular, failure to use the litterbox correctly, especially when presenting with other issues, may point to a common problem in male cats: urinary obstruction.
What causes urinary obstruction?
Urinary obstruction is typically caused by a backup of inflammatory material, mucus, crystals, and kidney stones (calculi). According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), the source of these issues is not well understood. It seems to be caused by a variety of factors, which may include diet, trauma, and cancer. No matter what causes it, it requires immediate medical intervention.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of urinary obstruction might take time to notice, so it’s always a good idea to be diligent and keep a close eye on your cat’s behavior and bathroom habits. The ACVS lists initial symptoms as including (but not limited to) “straining to urinate, frequent urination, blood in the urine, painful urination, and inappropriate urination (urinating outside of a litter box).” Behavioral symptoms may include more vocalization, lethargy, loss of appetite, and staying hidden more often.
According to the ACVS, initial symptoms may resolve themselves and then crop back up 6-12 months later. This is part of why it’s so important to keep an eye on your feline friend. It may seem as if the issue is resolved and you’re in the clear, but it’s very common for urinary obstruction to recur. If it happens once, it’s best to assume it will happen again. Being vigilant could save your cat’s life, as the ACVS also states that complete obstruction could lead to death within 3-6 days.
How is it treated?
For most cats, treatment involves sedation and a catheter to flush the obstruction from the urethra. Some minor aftercare should be enough to get these cats back on their feet. If the flush fails, a cystotomy may be performed to remove the stones—this is a surgical procedure that opens the bladder to allow for manual removal of the blockages.
Sometimes male cats experience recurring blockages that, for whatever reason, cannot be managed medically. When this happens, a perineal urethrostomy may be recommended as a last-ditch effort to get the condition under control. This operation involves widening the urethra surgically in order to allow the stones and other obstructions to pass through more easily and with less pain.
Trust Maryland Veterinary Surgical Services With Your Companion’s Health
Your companion’s health is important, and the team at MVSS is ready to provide the best care possible for your furry family. We are dedicated to combining comprehensive exams and assessments with informative and honest discussions of your companion’s care. Once we have worked with you to decide on the best course of action for your dog, our professionals will use their surgical expertise to work towards the goal of giving your companion an active and pain-free life. We are proud to serve loyal companions in Catonsville and Baltimore. To learn more about our services, give us a call at 410-788-4088 or visit us online. For more information and tips for pet health, follow us on Facebook and Pinterest.