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Feline Urethral Obstruction PDF Print E-mail
  • A crystalline plug is formed in the feline urinary tract and lodges in the urethra, blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder.
  • Urinary crystals are less likely to form on quality diets (Purina ProPlan, Iams, Eukenuba, Hill's Science Diet).
  • Primarily a problem in male cats due to the anatomical narrowing of the penile urethra.
  • A potentially life-threatening situation leading to electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and kidney failure.
  • Blocked cats often spend time straining and vocalizing in the litter box, producing little or no urine. They become lethargic, depressed, anorexic, and may vomit.
  • Immediate fluid therapy and passage of a urinary catheter to relieve the obstruction are indicated.
  • Blood work should be attained before and 24-48 hours after treatment is initiated to determine electrolyte balances and kidney function in response to treatment.
  • An ECG may be indicated depending on electrolyte abnormalities and physical exam findings.
  • An indwelling urinary catheter may be left in place, and the bladder flushed with adequate fluid to allow any other secretions to pass through the catheter.
  • A urinalysis should be performed to determine dietary management in the prevention of future plug formation.
  • Hospitalization is required to administer fluids, monitor urine production, and patient response to therapy.
  • Antibiotics are often administered to treat secondary urinary tract infections.
  • Post-obstruction urethral spasming due to inflammation often makes urination painful and difficult following relief of the obstruction. Phenoxybenzamine or Valium therapy may be indicated to alleviate spasms.
  • After the urinary catheter is removed, the patient should be monitored for another 12 to 24 hours to ensure urine is passing.
  • A balanced prescription diet is often necessary for the rest of the cat's life to try and prevent the recurrence of a urethral plug obstruction.
  • Surgery is indicated if a patient continues to obstruct despite proper medical management.