Meet George, a 7 year old male cat who came to see us in December when his owners noticed he had been acting strangely in his litter tray. He was straining to urinate, crying out in pain and they noticed some blood in the little urine he was passing. Wisely, they brought him to the vet as soon as possible. Male cats have a very narrow urethra which is easily blocked. If it becomes blocked it is a life-threatening emergency situation. The bladder can become distended, toxins are unable to leave the body and they build up in the blood stream. It is also very painful and uncomfortable for the cat.
A blood sample was also taken and sent to the lab for testing. George's blood results showed a build-up of renal toxins in his blood stream. This was due to the blockage in his urethra not allowing them to be expelled in his urine. To remedy this, George was placed on intravenous fluid therapy to flush the toxins from his system. His urine test showed that there were crystals in his urine. It was these microscopic crystals which had built up and caused the blockage. This issue is common in cats and can be corrected with a special prescription diet. This special diet corrects the pH balance and dissolves the crystals, and in the long term will help to prevent the crystals from re-forming.
George spent several days in hospital on fluids and with a urinary catheter in place. This ensured that all of the toxins were flushed from his system and his urethra remained unblocked. On the third day, the catheter was removed and George was observed for signs of re-blocking. When he urinated normally in his litter tray later that day, it was decided that George was well enough to go home. His owners kept a close watch on George at home to ensure he made a full recovery.
If you see symptoms such as straining in the litter tray (often mistaken for constipation), blood in the urine, painful urination or urinating outside of the litter tray, your cat may have a urinary tract infection. You should bring him or her to the vet for a check up, especially if your cat is male. These episodes can be triggered by stress, diet or bacterial infections. They are often recurring but can be managed with prescription diets such as Hills C/D diet or Royal Canin Urinary diet.