Monday, January 21, 2013

Repeated Urethral Blockage in Male Cats: There's a Surgery for That

Male cats are more susceptible to urethral blockages than female cats. Whether the blockage is from urinary crystals or bladder stones. This is because a male cat's urethra is much longer and more narrow. The common term used for a urethral blockage is "blocked".

It is thought that cats sometimes get urinary crystals from poor diets, which cause their urine to have an improper pH balance and have high alkaline levels. After the urethral blockage is removed, a cat should be placed on special prescription diet to help maintain the pH balance of his urine and prevent future urethral blockages.

Photo via wolfsavard


It is important for a blocked cat to see a doctor as soon as possible because urethral blockages are a medical emergency that if not treated quickly enough, will be fatal. If your cat is spending a lot of time in his litter box, crying out in pain when urinating, has had blood in his urine, is licking his genital area, or is showing signs of distress, then he needs to be seen by a veterinarian quickly.

After the urethral obstruction is removed, your cat will be placed on a special prescription diet that will regulate his urine pH to prevent any future crystal and stone formations in the bladder. The road to recovery following an event like this is not always fast and easy. Within weeks or even days, another blockage could occur.

When cats have problems with becoming blocked multiple times, perineal urethrostomy is usually recommended. This is a surgical procedure which basically removes the male penis and shortens the urethra. A new opening, like a female cat's, is created in it's place which should prevent further blockage. We used to call this the "sex change" surgery at work.

According to AAHA, "Perineal urethrostomy will permanently cure urethral obstruction in 90% of male cats." The surgery will not prevent the formation of crystals in the future. It just gives the crystals a wider opening to pass through. After surgery, these cats may experience more bladder infections.

Photo via DDFic
You can help prevent urethral blockages and urinary crystals in your cat by feeding him a high quality diet, maintaining an ideal weight, and encouraging lots of water drinking. Having a urinalysis done during your cat's yearly veterinarian visit is a great way to monitor the pH of his urine and check for any possible problems before they become severe.

Remember -- if you're cat is showing signs of urinary distress, please have him seen by a veterinarian quickly! Most animal hospitals realize the urgency of this and can have you seen on the same day.

Special thanks to Charmaine from the Kitty Kanteen Feral Cat & Kitten Rescue for suggesting this topic to write about. One of her rescue cats, Elliot, just had a perineal urethrostomy performed and is recovering well. 

If you're interested in learning more about a health-related pet topic, let me know!

33 comments:

  1. We always learn something new here. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  2. Like Molly, we always learn something new every day over here :) Have a fantaztic Monday xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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  3. Thank you for your interesting posts - there are so much thing which are good to know :o)

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  4. Thanks for this great post. We had a kitty at our shelter recently that had this surgery. It was a big success, and he is now living happily in a forever home where he is SO well loved. :)

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    1. So very glad to hear that! I haven't met very many kitties who had this surgery done.

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  5. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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  6. Sex change surgery for cats! Who knew!? Great information.

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    1. Lol, yea... definitely not the proper name for the surgery but much easier to say and remember than perineal urethrostomy!

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  7. Great info, but ouch sure comes to mind!

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  8. Learned about this only briefly in school, very very good post on it, I learned alot more!

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  9. Thankfully, we've never had this issue but we've seen posts by blogger friends whoa re fighting it...ugh...

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    1. I'm glad for you guys! It's pretty common for cats and I hope it never becomes an issue for your kitties.

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  10. Milou had this surgery a long time ago.
    He is now on a strict diet (S/O or C/D - has been for years actually) and the humans are very careful about what he is eating: too much of other food can cause problems to this day. So he only gets a Greenie or two from time to time. Poor Milou: such a food lover and only limited choice. But the humans say this is very serious.
    Thanks for this article!
    Purrs

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  11. Ann, Thank you for publishing this article. I am glad I asked you to write about this health problem in male cats. Elliott has been doing really well since the surgery and we look forward to a crystal blockage free future for our big guy!! I hope that anyone who has a cat that is experiencing these problems talks to their veterinarian about this surgery, it was a life saver for Elliott! Charmaine & Kitty Kanteen

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    1. I am heart-breakingly going through this issue with my 1 1/2yr Egyptian Mau. He is currently at the vet and is having to require a catheter to empty his bladder for the third time in 3 weeks. This last time only took him 24hours to get blocked again. My vet has suggested this surgery to me. However he told me this is very expensive and painful for my animal. I just want to do right by my cat no matter what. Did your cat have a long recovery time? Did you notice any continuous pain when urinating or cleaning? Also I know it is impolite, but if you are open to sharing what you paid for the entire procedure would be of huge help to me. Anyone that has input is welcome to share. Thank you so much.

      BCKGRD: Only eating bladder C/D, had two rounds of clavamix three rounds of diazepam to relax muscles for ease, as well as two anti inflammatory shots in office. Lots of fluid and saline bags, 3times catheter has been used. Tested kidneys first round levels at 9.8 (scary).

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    2. So sorry to hear this :( Like most surgeries it would be painful, yes. But, there is pain medicine and it could help him live a pain-free life in the end. Unfortunately, I don't think Charmaine will see your questions as she did not write the blog. If you'd like to ask her directly, here is the link to her Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/TheKittyKanteenFeralCatAndKittenRescue

      I on the other hand am a vet tech and have seen cats with urinary blockages very often. If you choose not to do the surgery, you may end up paying more anyways because even a catheter placement and treatment can be very expensive, especially multiple ones. I'd estimate for surgery, you may be looking at around $1000, roughly. If he's not eating wet c/d, make sure you are giving him mostly wet right now. I think Charmaine's cat had a very nice recovery, if I remember correctly.

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    3. Thank you for the post. Just got our kitty from surgery today. I only WISH the procedure was $1000... Was closer to $4000!!! It's absolutely insane that places exploit the love for we, as pet owners, have for our animals. They are family members, and we all do what we have to do. But with something costing that amount, sad to say, but putting them to sleep is almost what would have to happen!

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  12. Hi Anne thank you for sharing with us all and educating us.

    Sheba.

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  13. Great topic. There are way too many cats that have this problem. I would like to add, that the diet change that is recommended after the cat has been diagnosed with this problem needs to be for life. I've seen too many owners who take their cats off of the recommended prescription diet after a handful of months, only for the crystals to re-develop and the cat to start having problems again.

    Great info!

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  14. My kitty , Jake, paid two visits to an emergency animal hospital. It seems his problem would always flare up after my regular vet closed. After racking up a bill of around $4,000 (emergencies are outrageously expensive), I transferred him to my own vet, who tried 3 times to solve the problem with a catheter. We finally made the decision today, that the catheter procedure was not working, so I have opted for him to have the operation tomorrow. Jake is only 4 years old, so he has only used up a couple of his lives. His twin brother, Jesse, misses him greatly, so I feel much better now that I have made this decision.

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    1. So sorry to hear about Jake. It's unfortunate that the treatment for this can be so expensive. I hope the surgery goes well for him and helps to solve his problems! Good luck Jake!

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  15. I am so glad I found this site.. We are going through the exact same thing as "Anonymous".. Our vet bill is very near $4000. and still rising. We transferred my baby "Taz" (2 years old) from a weekend stay at the emergency vet to our regular vet 3 days ago and like others the catheter is just not working. We have been trying to make a decision on this operation all day. I dearly love this cat, all I want is for him to get well and come home. After reading your article and comments I feel so much better about choosing this option. Thank you so much!!

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    1. Hi Mikki - thank you very much for leaving a comment about this. It really does make me feel great knowing that this is reaching people who really find it useful! I know just how expensive this sort of thing is and am sorry you are going through it right now. I really hope this surgery works for him and helps him to get better!

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  16. I have a big male cat named Roxx who is having this surgery today :( I woke up this morning with mixed feelings and emotions about it as I felt I was being cruel taking away his man parts. I was a blubbering mess and was so close to calling my vet (Roxx is already there) and telling her to just do the catheter thing again which was one of my two options as this is his third blockage. Thank you to everyone who has replied to this post positively as I now feel it's the right thing to do. I love my baby boy so much and don't have any children, hence why I woke up in tears over this. I now feel I can carry on with my day at work and just look forward to picking up a much healthier kitty who is obviously going to get my undivided attention :) I just hope he recovers well with no issues. Thanks again.....huge help xoxo

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I am truly glad this post has helped you in some way. The good thing about our animals is I don't think they care if they are boys or girls :) I know how stressful all of this can be as I've seen one too many cats with urinary problems. Best of luck to Roxx! Will be thinking of him!

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  17. Chopper is his name he is 2 year's old and he has been Cath...2 and its been very stressful. Vet is telling me that surgery is an option.. The only thing is that I'm on dyalis right now I'm not doing well to I'm wondering if the care after surgery hard the vet said that he would be home the following day a soon as he went to the rest room can you answer me back ..thanks

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    1. I think the care after surgery may not be much different than the care after a catheter placement and hospitilization. If all goes well, he should be able to urinate well. There is still a chance that the surgery can fail. It's a very small chance, but it's possible. You'll have meds to give and he may need to keep a collar on to prevent licking the area. You'll need to monitor him and there may be more re-checks at the vet's office. I think the care level would be a moderate to high amount. Hope your feeling better soon as well as Chopper.

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  18. My cat had this surgery a few years agi following multiple blocks in a matter of days.

    Its worth noting that there can be complications. My cat is prone to urinary infections now because the urethra is so much shorter. Cystitis seems to be the most frequent for him.

    Id get the surgery every time. I almoat lost hank over blockages, I dont have to worry anymore. Other than cystitis flare ups he is back to his usual drooling cuddle butt self. :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with this! UTI's are more common for female cats for the same reason you mention. Glad that he is doing well overall.

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  19. I have an 8 year old Blue Russian that is prone to these issues. 2 years ago, we almost lost him (not knowing what was wrong) and then about 6 months ago, another re-occurrence. The problem is - He is an indoor/outdoor cat. Keeping him inside would kill him. I cannot control what he eats, and if I am not watching him like a hawk, the dagnam dog gets his special food. He is still drinking very well, be we have noticed he is moving differently. Cannot be arthritis - spring is almost here. But he is not his bouncy trouncy self. Is there any medication that can be given proactively? Is there anything else we can do? Fresh proteins? Controlling this feline is like making a teenager do their homework...its a struggle at best! Thanks.

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    1. Well, I can't really think of anything more than what you're already trying to do. Plenty of fluids is good. He can get even more fluids by eating canned food, preferably the prescription diet your vet recommends for him. If the issue becomes really bad, there's always surgery. But it's typically done in extreme cases I think.

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