One of the interesting cases this month at Reservoir Vet was a 2 year old cat called Puma. Puma's owners noticed he had stopped eating, and he had a very swollen abdomen which was becoming painful. His mum Franca rushed Puma to us on a Tuesday morning. It was quickly discovered that Puma had a urinary obstruction and couldn't go to the toilet. This quickly becomes an emergency, because if left untreated it can be fatal.
Puma was rushed into surgery where his urinary tract was flushed to remove the blockage and a urinary catheter was placed to release the remaining urine from his bladder. The catheter was left in to continue draining, as it is common to re-block. Pain relief and medication were given to Puma to help relax his bladder and urethra after surgery. He was kept overnight with his catheter in. However, being a cheeky kitty Puma pulled out the catheter overnight, one of the many quirks of working with animals. They don't always understand what’s good for them! Luckily urine was found in Puma's litter tray and he continued to go throughout the day. He was sent home where he will be watched closely for any signs of another block.
Urinary blockages are common in male cats. Symptoms include crying out when urinating, urinating outside of the litter box, frequent urination, straining to urinate, and blood in the urine. They can be caused by a few reasons such as stress, stones or crystals. There are special diets that can help minimise the risk of a urinary block, and Puma was sent home on Hills C/D stress which is a urinary diet designed to reduce stress and the formation of stones. It is a completely balanced diet that can be fed lifelong. Other ways to reduce the risk of a urinary blockage is to make sure your cat has access to multiple litter trays and/or outside, and safe places to go when stressed. Keeping their weight under control can also minimise the risk. It is not totally understood why, but stress is a major contributor to urinary blockages. Keeping an eye on your cat during stressful times (like a move or new family member) is important so hopefully you can pick up the signs before it becomes an emergency.