Cat's can get urinary blockages without any warnings and will need to be treated with a perineal urethrostomy (PU) surgery if other standard treatments aren't effective. In this blog, our Powder Springs vets share everything you should know about PU surgery for cats.
Causes of Urinary Blockages in Cats
Urinary blockages are caused by 'plugs' made of protein-rich sludge, crystals, or small stones that can get stuck in your cat's urethra - the tube that allows your cat to urinate. Male cats that are neutered are at a higher risk of urinary blockages because their urethra is much narrower, not letting as much material through.
Signs Your Cat Has a Urinary Blockage
When cats have an obstruction in their urethra, they will squat more often than normal to pee but minimal or no urine is expelled. The biggest problem with this condition is that liquid will keep entering the bladder, but won't be able to escape once the bladder is full. This leads to visible and severer discomfort and pain from the pressure. The toxic waste that is supposed to be released through urination will start backing up into the bloodstream causing disorientation, lethargy, and vomiting. If this condition isn't addressed as quickly as possible the bladder will rupture.
How PU Surgery Can Help Cats
If your cat's condition can't be fixed using standard treatment options such as pushing the blockage away with a catheter, or your cat is prone to urinary blockages, a surgical procedure called perineal urethrostomy (PU) may be the option your vet decides is best.
This procedure is designed to make the urethra wider, thus allowing potential blockages to pass through rather than getting stuck. While this surgery reduces the risk of your cat getting future blockages, it doesn't guarantee that they will never have another obstruction again.
What You Can Expect Post-Surgery
Your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent licking or biting at the surgical site. Excessive licking can interfere with healing and if your cat licks or gets to the incision, there may not be any tissue left to repair since the skin is very thin. This collar must not be removed until your vet gives you the go-ahead, which is typically in about 2 weeks.
Your cat's activity will have to be limited and you will need to keep your kitty calm. Your vet might suggest confining your kitty to a small area, that's kept separate from other pets, where their activity can be restricted and you can closely monitor them.
For the first few days immediately following your cat's surgery, it's perfectly normal for them to have blood in their urine and for them to have accidents as they get accustomed to the new function of their urethra. This is temporary, and we recommend keeping your feline friend in a room with tile while they recover from PU surgery, so any accidents can be easily cleaned. If blood or urine stains their back legs or belly, you can use a wet washcloth to clean them. Do not wipe the incision area directly.
Your cat will need special litter during their recovery so it won't get stuck to the incision. You could use shredded newspaper or you can purchase pelleted paper litter from the store. You should be ready and have an appropriate paper litter prepared for when your kitty comes home. You will be able to return to your regular litter once the incision site has healed.
A 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.
Studies have shown that cats tend to live around three to five years after PU surgery. That being said, this surgery won't negatively harm their life expectancy. With proper preventive care, your cat can live a happy, healthy, blockage-free life.
The Cost of PU Surgery for Cats
The cost of PU surgery for cats varies based on the diagnostic tests required, your location, the vet you go to, and the extent of your kitty's condition. Alternatively, if you compare the prices of surgery to the cost of frequently treating urinary blockages, you might even be saving money in the long run. Don't hesitate to contact our vets at Powder Springs Animal Clinic for an estimated cost of your cat's surgery.
How to Prevent Urinary Obstructions in Cats
Proper preventive care is the key to reducing your cat's risk of developing urinary blockages. Routine visits to your vet for a routine exam will give them the opportunity to ensure your cat is receiving the right care at home to prevent blockages, but here are some other things you can do between appointments:
- Reduce your cat's stress by keeping their litter clean, and reducing changes to their schedule.
- Increase your cat's water intake by providing clean, freshwater, or adding some flavor.
- Offer an enriched environment with perches, moving toys, or food puzzles.
- Change their diet to a urinary diet that has limited minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
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.