Uninary Track Disease in Male Cats

gracie-2006July 5, 2013

Our baby, Ragdoll is only 17mos old and has recently had issues with his urinary track. The vet said he has crystals in his bladder. We caught it quickly, when he saw he was struggling using the litter box. We had him in the vet that day. They used an conservative approach since he did pee by accident when vet carried him off for tests. They gave him an antibiotic and some other med for bladder.We changed his food to the special food for urinary care. We had to take him to emergency vet Sunday morning when he was not able to use the box. They catherized him for 24 hrs. Now we are home and he is still having trouble emptying his bladder at one sitting.. He goes several times, very tiny amounts. Has any one else had this problem with their cats? Most people say that once they are on the diet they are fine. It has been two weeks since his emergency visit and being caherized.

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We did have this problem with one of our cats, and using the special food from the vet has helped -- no recurrence in four years. The wet version of the food is best, or if you get the dry, mix it with some warm water.

My opinion is that you should call the vet right away. His urethra could be sore or swollen from the catheter, or he could be trying to pass another bladder crystal or stone.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 6:40PM
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Yes......I had a cat and a male dog with this issue. The diet and the caths did not resolve it and both ended up requiring a surgery to facilitate passing urine. It's a very worrysome issue because a blocked urethra is an emergency situation fairly quickly and can cause the bladder to burst. Sometimes it seems they're leaking urine but that isn't a sign all is well either. The pressure becomes so intense some pushes past the obstruction. I got pretty good at palpating the bladders to see if they were distended.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Thank you all! , yes our vet has shown us how to do that. It is very concerning. How did the surgery go calliope. Do they have incontinence or other concerning issues after surgery ?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Call your vet - you are describing at best a UTI and at worst an inflammation or blockage. If he is off antibiotics he needs to be put back on them.

I had a cat who suffered from crystals. After a lot of UTIs and trial and error I discovered that water helped him more than anything else. I bought him a Drinkwell fountain and put different bowls of water around the house. I added water to his wet food. The more water you can get him to drink the less problems he will have. I can't say it enough - water, water water.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 11:27PM
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Gracie............yes the surgeries went extremely well for both animals with no issues afterward. It's nothing I'd rush into as an easy fix, but we'd tried conservative treatment with the cat and it just wasn't working. They were not identical surgeries. The dog had his urethra redirected to a stoma from his penis and his bladder sphincter was still sufficient to prevent accidents. It seemed to be a much more major deal for him than the surgery was for my male cat.

Two different surgeons. The vet described the cat's surgery as turning the penis inside out. In essence, shortening greatly the length of the urethra. He then suggested using a low ash food. Neither animal had any difficulties ever again with their urine flow and the cat lived many years afterward. The dog died in an accident not too long after his surgery, so we did not have time to really evaluate how well it worked out over the long run. I'd suspect well. Diet is a good adjunct but stones vary as to composition and it's rather important to see what type of stone is being formed and why. That will impact the prognosis and treatment. The cat's surgery was the suggested route because of failure in previous treatment, the dog's surgery was emergency and there were no other choices. This issue is one best resolved with a lot of interplay with your vet, so you're both on the same page. I know two other cats (male) who died from unknown bladder obstruction.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 1:30PM
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First of all, your male cat probably does NOT have a UTI (very rare in young cats). It does obviously have cystitis, which is just another name for an irritated bladder. The crystals and mucus created by the diet and the inflammation of the bladder wall combine to form a plug sometimes, which male cats cannot always fit through their dinky urethras (and end up 'blocking', which is indeed an emergency). However, a cat that has been catheterized and cleared of his blockage will still have an inflamed bladder so will still 'act' like it has to pee all the time. Telling a blocked cat from one with an empty bladder that just thinks he still has to pee and strains a lot with only a few drops coming out is not easy. One should be shown by their vet how to feel for a large bladder, which a blocked cat will have, but a cat with cystitis that is just straining a lot will not have.

To resolve this issue you will sometimes need several 'ingredients'...

1- time.. if your cat truly has been unblocked and there are no more crystals and mucus plugs in the works, he will generally improve over 1-2 days. But often his cystitis needs to be addressed, too.

2- to make your cat's bladder feel better will often relieve the straining, and in turn some of the cystitis. So Pain Medication is VERY IMPORTANT. I hope they sent you home with some. Buprenex is usually the best one and works great to keep bladders feeling better during the cystitis recovery period after blocking.

3- to facilitate the urinating of all the crystals out of the bladder before they 'get together' again and form another plug, your cat needs to take in a lot of water- usually more than they want to should they be eating a dry diet... this is one reason why canned food is usually a MUST for these cats, and in my opinion, a permanent must... life long canned food (perferrably not a fish flavor) is an excellent way of avoiding cystitis in the future (this goes for female cats as well... they get just as much cystitis as male cats to, but are graced with a large bore urethra so 'blocking' is far less likely to occur). I have hardly ever seen a cat block on just canned food (in fact, I cannot think of a single case, and i see at least one blocked cat a week in practice).

4- lower the carbs... this is one of the more controversial aspects of FIC (feline interstial cystitis) and the exact details still need to be worked out.. .but it seems high protein diets (particulary NON fish diets) make it very difficult for a cat to continue creating struvite crystals. Unfortunately not all cats that block form struvite crystals.. .some for oxalate crystals, and there is some doubt whether high protein really helps these cats much... but high water intake sure does, so again, CANNED food! Dry foods are very high in carbs (industry so far has not managed to create a lot carb dry food) and MOST canned foods are significantly lower in carbs (the cheaper the canned food, though, the more carb fillers may be in them, so some canned foods do not fit this description).

5- lower the stress. Not sure how it plays in to this problem, but high stressed cats are much more likely to get cystistis, though this form of cystitis is not always associated with blocking. Still, more litter boxes, hormone plug-ins, and sometimes anti-anxiety meds and make a cat less likely to develop cystitis.

Good luck with your kitty.. if you are not sure how to feel for a large bladder and he continues to strain, particularly if he starts of vomit or feel really bad, take him in ASAP. A ruptured bladder is a very bad thing.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Thank you lzrddr for taking the time to provide so much information. This one issue has caused me more anxiety with my male cats than any other I can think of. Having experienced it with the first male cat almost tainted me from getting another one. It can be particularly hard to recognise in multiple cat households where they have joint litter pans and when my cat was experiencing it, I kept him confined to one room after the caths to make sure I knew if he was urinating well or not. My current vet does not neuter males before six months because he believes that he has seen more cases of blockage in early neutered males. I remember posting about it here at the time because I had a young female of nearly the same age and I was very motivated not to have a surprise litter. LOL

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 12:02AM
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Omg,this forum is amazing!thank you all! iIzdrdr, thank you so much for your outstanding professional advise! We had kitty at vet yesterday. He is still uninating small amounts like seven times a day. Some quarter size, some bigger. He is eating prescription wet food and pres. Dry food. He acts well except now tonight we might have issues. He is struggling again with urinating! He is on Prazosin and our vet said he is going to consult with prof. On Mon. Who has specialized in urology in small animals. What is your opinion about catherizing again? We are so worried!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Catheterization should be done as needed. If your cat is still able to urinate, he does not need to be catheterized... yet. But he might. Stop feeding dry food if possible. Pain meds! Prazosin is a good drug to relax his urethra tone so continue that one for now. I would say about 10% of blocked cats will reblock soon after they block the first time and may need to be rehospitalized, sometimes for several days. But only about 1% or less need surgery (removing the penis)... does NOT cure them of their cystitis, but does make it much more difficult for them to reblock. Surgery used to be done all the time on these cats until we realized (about 25 years ago) that diet alone can keep most of the cats from reblocking.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Thanks again izrddr, our vet put him on a low dose of duprenorphine in case he might be straining due to pain in urethra. Fingers crossed!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 8:24PM
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The attached is long, so if you don't want to read the whole thing (which you should do), scroll down to Opie's story. Please.

Here is a link that might be useful: Feeding your cat, etc.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 12:10PM
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