We have seen an upsurge in the number of bladder problems and blockages in young male cats this winter. Cats don’t like braving the rain and the mud to toilet and some male cats don’t urinate often enough. Crystals and mucous then plug up the urethra and prevent the passage of urine.
The urethra is the passage urine takes from the bladder out through the penis. It is very narrow in male cats and easily blocked in some individuals.
If you see your male cat straining to urinate, licking his penis a lot or squatting repeatedly he needs immediate veterinary attention. Blocked cats soon lose their appetite and become weak because of the build-up of toxins in the blood. If they are left too long they become dehydrated and weak and go into shock.
We treat blocked cats as an emergency. They need a drip and relief from a very full bladder as soon as possible. If left blown up for too long the bladder can burst making the cat even more toxic.
A catheter into the bladder is left in place for a day and treatment to prevent re-blockage is started.
There are many other causes of blocked urethras. Some cats block up when stressed or anxious. Others refuse to toilet outside or in certain litter trays because of rival cats or fear of disturbance. Whenever the urine doesn’t regularly flush the urethra the risk of blockage in male cats increases.
To increase the amount of urine produced we must increase fluid intake. Cats do not have a very strong thirst drive. They ingest most of their fluid needs in their food so the easiest way to increase fluid intake is to increase the amount of wet food in the diet. Canned and sachet food, and raw meat are great because they contain the same amount of water as natural prey like mice, rats and birds.
Water fountains or water flavoured with chicken stock also help increase fluid intake.
Avoid dry cat kibble or biscuits because they cause low level chronic dehydration, induce concentrated urine and may increase the chances of a blocked urethra.