Urinary blockages can happen in cats without warning. If this blockage can't be treated effectively with standard methods, your vet may opt to perform a perineal urethrostomy (PU). Our Carlsbad vets share some facts about this procedure.
How do urinary blockages happen in cats?
Your cat's urethra is the tube that brings your cat's urine to the outside of their body. However, it can become blocked with protein-rich sludge, crystals or small stones called 'plugs'.
These urinary obstructions occur much more frequently in neutered male cats, since these felines have a much narrower urethra, which allows less material to get through.
What does a urinary blockage look like in a cat?
If your cat's urethra is blocked by an obstruction, you'll notice your kitty squatting to urinate more often than normal, but the body will actually release very little or no urine. However, liquid is still entering the bladder even if it's unable to evacuate once the bladder has become full.
This is the most pressing issue when it comes to this condition and could lead to significant, noticeable discomfort for your cat (and even potentially pain) due to the pressure. Typically, toxic waste is also eliminated with urine, so when this backs up into the bloodstream it can result in lethargy, vomiting and disorientation. If the issue isn't treated promptly, a cat's bladder may rupture.
How can PU surgery help my cat?
Standard treatment options include using a catheter to push the blockage away. If this and others prove ineffective in correcting the condition, or your cat is more prone to urinary blockages than average, a surgical procedure we refer to as perineal urethrostomy (PU) might be your vet's recommended course of action.
With this procedure, we can widen the urethra to allow potential blockages to pass through rather than becoming stuck. While the surgery may decrease the risk of future blockages, it does not guarantee that obstructions will not occur again.
What to Expect After Surgery
Your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent licking or biting at the surgical site. Excessive licking can interfere with healing and if your cat licks or gets to the incision, there may not be any tissue left to repair since the skin is very thin. This collar must not be removed until your vet gives you the go-ahead, which is typically in about 2 weeks.
Your cat will also need to be kept calm and have their activity restricted. Your veterinarian may recommend confining your cat to a small area, away from other pets, where his activity can be limited and he can be closely monitored.
Immediately after the surgery, it is normal for your pet to have bloody urine for a few days and may have accidents as they get used to the new function of their urethra. This is temporary and we recommend you keep your cat in a room with tile after their PU surgery, during the recovery phase, so any accidents can be cleaned up easily. If blood or urine stains their back legs or belly, you can use a wet washcloth to clean them. Do not wipe the incision area directly.
Your cat will require a special litter for his recovery so it won't stick to the incision. You can use shredded newspaper or if your cat prefers a pelleted litter, you can purchase pelleted paper litter. Be prepared and have an appropriate paper litter ready for your cat when he gets home. You can return to your regular litter after they have healed.
What is my cat's long-term prognosis after surgery?
The general outcome of PU surgery is positive. It can help your cat live a more comfortable life without frequent bladder obstructions.
Studies have shown that cats tend to live around three to five years after PU surgery. That being said, this surgery won't negatively harm their life expectancy. With proper preventive care, your cat can live a happy, healthy, blockage-free life.
What is the cost of PU surgery in cats?
The cost of PU surgery for cats can get pretty steep, and prices vary depending on the diagnostic test needed, and the extent of the condition. Alternatively, if you compare the cost of surgery to the cost of frequent treatment for blockages, it may actually save you money in the long run. Contact our Carlsbad vets to get an estimate.
How can I prevent my cat from developing a urinary obstruction?
Proper preventive care is the key to reducing your cat's risk of developing urinary blockages. Routine visits to your vet for a wellness exam will give them the opportunity to ensure your cat is receiving the right care at home to prevent blockages, but here are some other things you can do between appointments:
- Increase your cat's water intake by providing clean, freshwater, or adding some flavor.
- Change their diet to a urinary diet that has limited minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
- Reduce your cat's stress by keeping their litter clean, and reducing changes to their schedule.
- Offer an enriched environment with perches, moving toys, or food puzzles.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.