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10-Year-Old Cat Can’t Urinate

May 25, 2010
Brown Tabby Cat with White Paws Flicks his Ears Back in Annoyance

George Looks Annoyed

If Your Cat Can’t Urinate, It’s an Emergency!

George was a 10-year-old brown tabby Domestic Short Hair cat with four white paws and a litter box problem. He kept going into the pan and nothing was coming out!

“He hasn’t been able to urinate since last night,” said George’s mom.

Doc Truli felt George’s abdomen. Just in front of his hips, a hard, round bladder felt like a hard grapefruit. George stretched our his back legs and meowed in pain.

“He’s blocked,” said the Doc.

“George needs to be unblocked, he needs IV fluids to flush the toxins put of his body, and he needs painkillers.”

“Why won’t he heal if we just unblock him? Why does he have to stay in the hospital,” asked mom.

After a urinary blockage, the kidneys respond by going into a state called diuresis (die er ree sis). They urinate excessively for at least 24 hours. Without a balanced fluid solution to replace the losses, severe dehydration will occur. Even if a cat survives that dehydration, it is metabolically stressful on the body. This kind of stress shortens lives.

The urine retained in the bladder has all the toxins that are supposed to be peed out. The potassium, for one, causes heart rhythm disturbances and death. In the hospital, an EKG monitors the heart rhythm, and immediate treatments can avert disaster. None of this care happens “naturally” trying to “sleep it off” at home.

“I don’t want George to suffer, go ahead and do everything you have to so,” said George’s mom.

George laid on his side on a heating pad and received his first dose of intravenous painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. He relaxed enough to let the Doc pass an open-ended firm tomcat urinary catheter. The firm catheter lets the doctor push through blockages and clear the urethral passage. Red, bloody urine came pouring out of George’s bladder.

Next Doc Truli flushed George’s empty bladder with warm sterile saline solution to dilute any crystals, proteins, or plugs and help get him back to normal quickly.

Doc removed the firm catheter and replaced it with a silicone urinary catheter. These cost much more than a tomcat or a red rubber catheter, but they work the best! The silicone glides smoothly and the delicate urethral lining appreciates the comfort and heals readily.

The catheter is actually stitched to the skin to hold it in place! Doc has a heart; she numbed George’s prepuce with lidocaine before the stitch.

An Elizabethan collar, intravenous fluids, and a few days, and Georgie healed up good as new!

Preventing Urinary Blockages in Cats


“How do we prevent blockages in the future?” asked Georgie’s mum.


Actually, research shows only changing to canned food helps. The theory is the increased water intake dilutes the urine and helps prevent blockages. If your veterinarian diagnoses specific urinary crystals, then specialized prescription diets designed to increase urine production will help.

Why Do Cats Block?


Why do cats get urinary blockages?


Nobody knows! About 98% of cats in the US and 90% of cats in Europe with urinary tract discomfort and blockages have sterile cystitis. This means they have NO bacterial infection!

Most pet parents think their cat needs unblocking and antibiotics and that’s all there is to it. Budget animal hospitals often offer these basic services if someone says they cannot pay for hospitalization.  The majority of cases (98%) in America, do not need antibiotics!

Physicians cannot explain why women get sterile cystitis, nor can they explain why cats do, either!

The Four Current Theories Why Cats (and Women) Have Bladder Problems


What are the current theories about why cats get urinary tract discomfort?


No matter the name of the syndrome:
Feline lower urinary tract disease
Feline urologic syndrome
Feline lower urinary tract syndrome
Plus many others…

The theories are:

  1. Nervous system disregulation of the signals in the bladder causing spasms, functional blockage, bleeding and pain.
  2. Immune system disregulation causing immune cells to populate the lining and muscles of the bladder.
  3. Allergic-type immune system disregulation affecting the bladder lining.
  4. Miscommunication of the local nerve plexi in the bladder wall resulting in the stress, cramping, and even bleeding of the syndrome.
  5. Basically, we know it’s not bacterial, viral, toxic, or cancerous in any known way. Other than that, science does not know!

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 9, 2010 2:50 pm

    Well written post, good researched and useful for me in the future.I am so happy you took the time and effort to make this. Best of luck

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