Urinary blockages are common in domestic cats. A perineal urethrostomy (PU) is performed to remove a dangerous and painful blockage from your feline companion. Our Fairfield, NJ vets are here today to explain the procedure, its costs, and how cats recover from PU surgery.
How do urinary blockages happen in cats?
Blockages in your cat's urethra - the tube that allows your cat to urinate - are caused by 'plugs' made of protein-rich sludge, crystals, or small stones that can get stuck. Because the urethra of neutered male cats is much narrower, less material can pass through it, urinary blockages are much more common.
What does a urinary blockage look like in a cat?
When a cat's urethra is obstructed, it will squat to pee more frequently than usual, but very little urine will be expelled. The most serious problem with this condition is that liquid will continue to enter the bladder but will not be able to exit once it is full. The pressure will cause serious and noticeable discomfort and even pain. The toxic waste normally excreted through urination will back up into the bloodstream, causing lethargy, disorientation, and vomiting. The bladder will rupture if this problem is not addressed quickly.
How can PU surgery help my cat?
If your cat's condition can't be fixed with standard treatment options like pushing the blockage away with a catheter, or if your cat is prone to urinary blockages, your vet may recommend a surgical procedure called perineal urethrostomy (PU).
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 its 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.
It is normal for your pet to have bloody urine for a few days after surgery, and they may have accidents as they adjust to the new function of their urethra. This is only temporary, and we recommend keeping your cat in a room with tile while he recovers from PU surgery so that any accidents can be easily cleaned up. If blood or urine stains their back legs or belly, clean them with a damp washcloth. Wipe the incision area away from the body.
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.
According to studies, cats who have PU surgery live for three to five years. Nonetheless, this surgery will not shorten their life expectancy. Your cat can live a happy, healthy, and blockage-free life with proper preventive care.
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 All Creatures Great and Small Animal 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.