Urinary Obstruction in Male Cats

When a male cat develops a urinary obstruction uremic poisoning can result in a short time and thus this is considered a life threatening disease condition. Once the diagnosis has been made it is necessary to remove the obstruction as soon as possible. In almost all cases the pet is hospitalized and a catheter is placed in the urethra for a short time to allow for a free flow of urine out of the bladder. Once the bladder has recovered its ability to contract the catheter is removed. If the cat functions well after the catheter is out then the patient is sent home on medication and diet restrictions for observation. If the cat becomes obstructed again after the catheter has been removed then a decision needs to be made as to whether to repeat the catheterization procedure or to treat the case surgically. If surgery is elected (called perineal urethrostomy) then a permanent and larger opening is made in the urethra to stop any further obstruction from occurring.

Surgery is advised when repeated blockages have occurred or when damage to the lining of the urethra is significant. As is the case with all surgeries it is best to return the patient to as good a state of health as is possible in order to reduce the anesthetic risks. A series of blood tests can assess the relative progression of the disease, give some indication of the prognosis and safety issues.

The surgical procedure involves removal of the entire penis because this is the narrowest point of the urethra and therefore the most common location for obstructions to occur. Anatomically the urethra widens considerably the closer you get to the pelvis. By opening the urethra above where the penis used to be located a drain board in effect is created. The edges of the urethra are sutured to the skin with very small sutures that will need to be removed once the area has healed. Postoperative care includes antibiotics and an Elizabethan collar or “lamp shade” to prevent the cat from licking at the sutures resulting in complications. Once the sutures are out the appearance is similar to the female vulva.

This procedure does prevent, however, the cat from a bladder infection or from forming crystals or stones in the urine in the future. It only prevents the cat from becoming obstructed again. The cat will be able to control its urinations. Fortunately, there are no vanity issues to deal with. Once the hair has grown in it will be difficult for you to tell that an operation was done at all. Discussing the medical and surgical approaches to the blocked cat with your veterinarian is a good idea. As every case is different, your veterinarian will be able to help guide you in making the best decision for your cat.

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