Domestic cats are particularly susceptible to sudden urinary blockages. Generally, we aim to treat these blockages through less invasive means, but when standard treatment is ineffective a perineal urethrostomy (PU) can be necessary to clear the dangerous and painful blockage from your feline companion. Today, our Redding vets are here to tell you everything you need to know about this treatment; including what costs are associated with the procedure and what the recovery process looks like for cats after PU surgery.
How do urinary blockages happen 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. Neutered male cats have a much higher occurrence of urinary blockages because their much narrower urethra permits less material to pass through it.
What does a urinary blockage look like in a cat?
When a cat has an obstruction in their urethra, they will squat to pee more frequently than normal but little to no urine will actually be expelled. The most pressing issue with this condition is that liquid will still continue to enter the bladder, but will be unable to be expelled when the bladder is filled. This will cause serious, and noticeable discomfort and even pain from the pressure. The toxic waste that is typically released through urination will begin to back up into the bloodstream resulting in lethargy, disorientation, and vomiting. If this issue isn't treated promptly, the bladder will rupture.
How can PU surgery help my cat?
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. This surgery reduced the risk of future blockages but does not guarantee that they will never get an obstruction again.
What should I expect after 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 will also need to be kept calm and have their activity restricted. Your veterinarian may recommend confining your cat to a small area, away from other pets, where his activity can be limited and he can be closely monitored.
Immediately after the surgery, it is normal for your pet to have bloody urine for a few days and may have accidents as they get used to the new function of their urethra. This is temporary and we recommend you keep your pet in a room with tile during your cat's recovery from PU surgery so any accidents can be cleaned up easily. 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 require a special litter for his recovery so it won't stick to the incision. You can use shredded newspaper or if your cat prefers a pelleted litter, you can purchase pelleted paper litter. Be prepared and have an appropriate paper litter ready for your cat when he gets home. You can return to your regular litter after they have healed.
What does a cat's PU surgery recovery time typically look like?
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.
How much will PU surgery for my cat cost?
The cost of surgery can get pretty steep, and prices vary depending on the diagnostic test needed, and the extent of the condition. Alternatively, if you compare the cost of surgery to the cost of frequent treatment for blockages, it may actually save you money in the long run. contact our Dana Park Veterinary Hospital vets to get an estimate.
How can I prevent my cat from developing a urinary obstruction?
Proper preventive care is the key to reducing your cat's risk of developing urinary blockages. Routine visits to your vet for a routine wellness 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:
- Increase your cat's water intake by providing clean and fresh water, or adding some flavor.
- Change their diet to a urinary diet that has limited minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
- Reduce your cat's stress by keeping their litter clean, and reducing changes to their schedule.
- Offer an enriched environment with perches, moving toys, or food puzzles.
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.