Urinary blockages can strike our cats at any time, and if they can't be treated effectively with traditional methods, a perineal urethrostomy (PU) is an option. Our Boulder County veterinarians are available to answer any questions you may have about this surgical procedure.
How do urinary blockages happen in cats?
Blockages in your cat's urethra - the tube that allows your cat to urinate - are caused by 'plugs' made of protein-rich sludge, crystals, or small stones that can get stuck. Because neutered male cats have a narrower urethra, less material can pass through, they are more prone to urinary blockages.
What does a urinary blockage look like in a cat?
When a cat's urethra is blocked, he or she will squat to pee more frequently than usual, but little or no urine will be expelled. The most serious problem with this condition is that liquid will continue to enter the bladder but will not be able to exit once it is full. The pressure will cause serious and noticeable discomfort and even pain. Lethargy, disorientation, and vomiting will result as toxic waste that is normally released through urination backs up into the bloodstream. The bladder will rupture if this problem is not addressed quickly.
How can cat PU surgery help?
If your cat's condition can't be fixed with standard treatment options like pushing the blockage away with a catheter, or if your cat is prone to urinary blockages, your vet may recommend a surgical procedure called perineal urethrostomy (PU).
The purpose of this procedure is to widen the urethra, allowing potential blockages to pass through rather than becoming stuck. This surgery decreased the likelihood of future blockages, but it does not guarantee that they will never have another.
What to expect after PU cat surgery
To prevent licking or biting at the surgical site, your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar). Excessive licking can slow healing, and if your cat licks or gets close to the incision, there may not be enough tissue to repair because the skin is so thin. This collar must not be removed until your veterinarian gives you permission, which usually takes about two weeks.
Your cat will also need to be kept calm and restricted in their activities. Your veterinarian may advise confining your cat to a small space away from other pets, where his activity can be restricted and he can be closely monitored.
It's normal for your pet to have bloody urine for a few days after surgery, and they might have accidents as their urethra adjusts to its new function. This is only temporary, and during your cat's recovery from PU surgery, we recommend keeping him in a room with tile so that any accidents can be easily cleaned up. You can clean them with a wet washcloth if blood or urine stains their back legs or belly. Wipe the area around the incision with a damp cloth rather than a wet cloth.
For your cat's recovery, you'll need a special litter that won't stick to the incision. You can use shredded newspaper or buy pelleted paper litter if your cat prefers a pelleted litter. When your cat returns home, be prepared and have an appropriate paper litter on hand. After they've healed, you can go back to your regular litter.
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.
According to studies, cats who have PU surgery live for three to five years. This veterinary surgery, however, will not harm their life expectancy. Your cat can live a happy, healthy, and blockage-free life with proper preventive care.
What is the cost of PU surgery in cats?
The cost of surgery varies greatly depending on the diagnostic tests required and the severity of the condition. If you compare the cost of surgery to the cost of frequent blockage treatment, you might find that it saves you money in the long run. To get a quote, contact our Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital veterinarians.
How can I prevent my cat from developing a urinary obstruction?
The key to lowering your cat's risk of urinary blockages is proper preventive care. Routine visits to your veterinarian for a routine exam will allow them to ensure that your cat is receiving the proper care at home to avoid blockages, but there are some things you can do in-between visits:
- 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.