cat urinary blockage

Help! My cat isn’t able to urinate. What should I do?

My cat is sitting in the litterbox trying to urinate, crying and not producing any urine. How can I help my cat? If your cat is unable to produce urine this is a medical emergency and your cat needs emergency veterinary care immediately. Continue reading this article to learn about urinary blockage in cats and how to be prepared if this happens to your feline friend!

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Signs your cat is experiencing a urinary blockage:

  • Dribbling urine
  • More than normal licking of the genitals
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Frequent visits to the litter box without producing urine
  • Vomiting
  • Uncomfortable/painful
  • Vocalizing/crying while in the litter box
  • Depressed, inactive
  • Not eating/drinking
  • Hiding or other abnormal behavior

What causes urinary blockage in cats?

The most common reasons include:

  • Male cats due to their urinary tract anatomy
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) or Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
  • Bladder crystals/stones
  • Bladder infection
  • Cancer

Why is urinary blockage an emergency?

If your cat cannot urinate due to a urinary blockage, urine will build up and cause death if untreated within 2-5 days (sometimes faster). The bladder enlarges and can rupture, allowing urine into the abdomen and absorbed into the bloodstream. Your cat will also become dehydrated and go into kidney failure, which if untreated, will result in death.

What to Expect at the Pet Emergency Hospital

The emergency vet will perform a complete physical exam on your cat and get a detailed history from you. Once the vet has determined that your cat is experiencing urinary blockage she/he will perform a number of tests, including blood and urine tests, to determine the best treatment for your cat.

Your cat may need to be hospitalized, sedated and have x-rays so that the bladder can be emptied, and a urinary catheter can be placed. You can expect that your cat will receive IV fluids to support the kidneys and to rehydrate, as well as pain management and other medications.

Will my cat recover?

While urinary blockage is life-threatening, when caught early and treated appropriately, cats do recover. No matter the cause of urinary blockage there is always risk for recurrence. Therefore, it is important that your vet determine the cause so that you can help prevent recurrence. The causes can include environmental stress-associated disorder (FLUTD) as well as crystals or bladder stones.

How can I prevent my cat from getting a urinary obstruction?

Treatment and prevention include long-term management focusing on behavior and environmental enrichment as well as diet and/or medical therapy. Many indoor cats need stimulation such as high perches, scratching posts and places where they feel safe and secure such as hiding places.

Speak with your vet about prescription diets available to help decrease or eliminate stress as well as prevent crystals/bladder stones in your cat. Using pheromones such as Feliway in your home can also help alleviate stress in your cat.

Read more:

Why does my cat have blood in his urine?

Help! My cat is peeing outside the litter box. What should I do?

Separation Anxiety in Cats

Have more questions about your cat’s urinary health?

Schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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