Rhythm the 7 year old male cat collapses with a blocked bladder

Rythym's owner brought him to the vet after he found him collapsed. In the 2 days leading up to this, his owner had noticed him straining to urinate and licking his penis.

When Dr Fiona examined him, he was in a critical condition and his bladder was full to near bursting. He was diagnosed with urinary tract obstruction or a blocked bladder. This means, his urethra was blocked by a plug of inflammatory proteins and mucous and he was able to urinate. Rhythm was handed over to Dr Clare, who was the vet in charge of the hospital cases that day and emergency treatment was initiated immediately.

Our veterinary team set to work. They put him on intravenous fluids and gave him a general anaesthetic and catheterised his penis so that his bladder could be emptied. Luckily the catheter passed through the urethra easily.

A blood test was run and this showed that he had severe renal damage and electrolyte imbalances as a result of the bladder obstruction.

Over the next week, Rhythm stayed in hospital. He was kept on intravenous fluids so that the excessive urea and toxins in ms blood were flushed out, his dehydration and electrolyte imbalance were corrected and we were confident that his kidneys were working properly. The excessive stretching of the bladder had damaged the bladder muscle, so the urinary catheter was left in for 3 days until we were sure the bladder had recovered enough for Rhythm to urinate on his own. He was medicated with analgesics (pain relief), antibiotics and special tablets to help him contract his bladder.

Rhythm was quite flat for the first few days in hospital and we were worried that he would have permanent kidney and/or bladder damage. However, there was a marked improvement in his demeanour on the 4th day. Blood tests returned to normal and he was urinating enough to indicate that his kidneys and bladder were working well.

Rhythm went home after a week in hospital. However he returned for check ups the following 2 days, so we could check his bladder and make sure he could urinate on his own.

Rhythm was lucky to survive without long term damage to his kidneys or bladder.

How can you stop this from happening to your pet?

Lower urinary tract disease is a common condition in cats. Unfortunately the causes of it are largely unknown.

Although urinary tract disease occurs both in male and female cats, urinary tract obstruction usually only occurs in males. This is because their urethras are narrower and plugs of inflammatory cells and mucous care more likely to become lodged.

Cats that are believed to be more susceptible to lower tract disease include those that are:-

  • obese,
  • fed predominately dry food,
  • have a low water intake,
  • live indoors and
  • have a sedentary lifestyle.

The reason for this is that these cats urinate less frequently and urine retention is believed to be a risk factor.

Signs your cat may show if it has urinary tract disease include:-

  • Urinating frequently and not producing much urine
  • Licking their penis/vulva
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinating in inappropriate places