Blocked Bladders in Cats: An Urgent Emergency

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Cats are wonderful companions, known for their independence and playful nature. However, just like any other living being, they are susceptible to various health issues. One such concern that demands immediate attention is a blocked bladder. This condition, also known as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), is not only extremely painful for our feline friends but can quickly escalate into a life-threatening situation. In this post, we will explain why blocked bladders in cats should be considered a medical emergency.

Understanding Blocked Bladders:
A blocked bladder occurs when there is an obstruction in a cat’s urethra, the tube responsible for transporting urine from the bladder to the outside. This obstruction primarily consists of bladder stones, mucus, crystals, or other debris, hindering the normal flow of urine. Male cats are more prone to this condition due to their narrower urethra, making the emergency even more critical for them.

Why does it happen? 

Urinary Stones: The formation of crystals or stones in the bladder or urethra can obstruct urine flow. Certain minerals in the cat’s diet, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, may contribute to stone formation. Certain foods like Whiskers, Pampers and Catmor have been found to contribute to stone formation.

Inflammation: Inflammation in the urinary tract, often caused by infections or other underlying health issues, can lead to the narrowing of the urethra, making it easier for blockages to occur.

Stress: Cats experiencing stress, anxiety, or environmental changes may exhibit increased vulnerability to FLUTD. Stress can cause muscle tension and irregular voiding patterns, which may contribute to blockages.

Recognising the Symptoms:

Identifying the symptoms of a blocked bladder is crucial in order to provide timely intervention. Some common signs include:

a) Frequent trips to the litter box with little to no urine being produced.

b) Straining during urination or vocalising in pain.

c) Blood in the urine.

d) Restlessness, excessive licking of the genital area, or signs of discomfort.

e) Vomiting, lack of appetite, or lethargy.

The Dangers of Delayed Treatment:

Blocked bladders can quickly become life-threatening if left untreated. When urine is unable to flow out of the body, it begins to accumulate in the bladder, causing it to distend and put pressure on vital organs. This can lead to severe complications such as:

a) Ruptured bladder: The excessive pressure on the bladder can cause it to burst, resulting in a potentially fatal situation.

b) Kidney damage: The inability to eliminate waste products can lead to the accumulation of toxins, affecting the kidneys’ function.

c) Electrolyte imbalances: Blocked bladders disrupt the body’s normal fluid balance, leading to imbalances in electrolytes, which can be fatal.

Emergency Veterinary Care:

If you suspect that your cat might have a blocked bladder, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary care. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination, potentially including X-rays or ultrasound, to confirm the diagnosis. Prompt treatment options may include:

a) Urinary catheterisation: This procedure aims to remove the obstruction and allow urine to flow freely.

b) Fluid therapy: Intravenous fluids help stabilise the cat’s condition, restore electrolyte balance, and support kidney function.

c) Medications: Pain relief and medications to dissolve crystals or stones may be prescribed.

d) Dietary changes: Special diets designed to prevent the formation of crystals or stones are strongly advised to prevent this condition from reoccurring.

Preventive Measures:

While it may not always be possible to prevent blocked bladders in cats, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk. These include:

a) Encouraging increased water intake to promote urinary health. Providing fresh water sources, multiple water bowls, and even using water fountains can help entice them to drink more.

b) Feeding a veterinary/ good quality balanced diet. Feeding a high-quality, balanced diet can significantly contribute to urinary tract health. Look for cat foods specifically formulated to promote a healthy urinary pH balance and reduce the likelihood of crystal formation.

c) Promptly addressing any changes in litter box habits or unusual behaviour. Maintain a clean litter box environment and ensure you have enough boxes for the number of cats in your household. Some cats may avoid using a dirty or crowded litter box, leading to irregular voiding patterns.

d) Minimise stressors in your cat’s environment by providing a stable routine, plenty of mental stimulation, and a safe space to retreat to. Consider using pheromone diffusers or other calming aids if your cat is prone to stress.

Dietary Considerations:

If your cat has a history of blocked bladders or FLUTD, your veterinarian may recommend a specialised diet. These diets are formulated to promote urinary health and reduce the likelihood of crystal formation. They often have controlled mineral levels to minimise the risk of stone formation.

Surgical Interventions:

If your cat has a history of blocked bladders or FLUTD, your veterinarian may recommend a specialised diet. These diets are formulated to promote urinary health and reduce the likelihood of crystal formation. They often have controlled mineral levels to minimise the risk of stone formation.

Feline blocked bladders can be a distressing condition for both cats and their owners. Understanding the causes, implementing preventive measures, providing a suitable diet, and considering surgical interventions when necessary can help manage this condition effectively. Remember, if you suspect your cat may have a blocked bladder, it is crucial to seek veterinary care promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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