Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) affects roughly 1% of the cat population. It is characterized by the presence of blood in the urine and by discomfort when urinating. You may also notice excessive urination and vocalization while urinating.
A urine culture and x-rays will help to determine the cause of FLUTD which may include bladderstones, urine crystals, infection and tumors. Feline Idiopathic Cystitis is the most common cause of FLUTD. Your veterinarian will determine the root cause of your cat’s FLUTD and will prescribe medication or alternative methods of treatment which, in some cases, includes surgery. With proper treatment, your cat should be back to it’s playful, comfortable self in no time.
Cats with urinary obstructions typically need to stay in the hospital for a few days for treatment and observation.
When you arrive at the vet, be sure to let them know right away that your cat can't urinate. They will quickly feel your cat's kidneys to determine if they are enlarged. A cat with a urinary obstruction typically has a large, firm bladder that can be felt easily by a professional. The bladder feels this way because it is overfilled with urine that has no way out. Without treatment, the bladder may rupture. Or, the toxin buildup and kidney dysfunction will lead to death.
If your cat is indeed obstructed, then the team must begin work immediately. The veterinarian will draw blood to check for electrolyte imbalances. Next, the vet will typically sedate the cat and attempt to place a rigid urinary catheter. This can be very difficult to do when there is material blocking the urethra. It can take several attempts to pass the catheter.
Once the rigid urinary catheter is in, the vet will collect a urine sample and then flush out the bladder with sterile saline. The urine will be analyzed for signs of infection, blood, crystals, and other abnormalities. Most vets will switch out the rigid catheter with a flexible one for the cat's comfort. This will be sutured in place and attached to a closed collection system (tubing and a bag to collect the urine). The cat will also get an intravenous catheter to provide fluids. Intravenous fluids will flush toxins out and clear debris from the bladder. The urinary catheter allows this to take place more efficiently and prevents re-obstruction.
During hospitalization, the vet may treat your cat with pain medications, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and/or other medications to help with recovery. The exact treatment depends on the cat's signs and the results of lab tests. A special urinary diet may be started when necessary.
After one to three days of fluids and urinary catheterization, the vet will remove the urinary catheter and observe the cat, making sure he can urinate on his own before sending him home.
Male cats that continue to get blocked may need a special surgery to enlarge the urethra. This surgery is called a perineal urethrostomy. It involves the removal of the penis and the creation of an opening for urination. As gruesome as it may sound, this surgery can majorly improve a cat's health and quality of life if he struggles with obstructive urinary issues.