When a cat suffers from chronic urinary blockages or a blockage that cannot be resolved with standard methods, your vet may recommend a perineal urethrostomy (PU). Today our Rockland County vets explain what PU surgery is and how it can help your cat.
How do urinary blockages happen in cats?
Urinary blockages are caused by 'plugs' made of protein-rich sludge, crystals, or small stones that can get stuck in your cat's urethra - the tube that allows your cat to urinate. Neutered male cats are more prone to urinary blockages as they have a more narrow urethra that doesn't allow as much material through.
What does a urinary blockage look like in a cat?
When a cat has an obstruction in their urethra they may attempt to go to the washroom more frequently than normal but little to no urine will actually come out. Early signs of urinary issues in your cat may include frequent trips to the litter box, meowing or crying while trying to go the bathroom, or peeing in areas outside of the litter box.
If the blockage is complete it will cause serious and noticeable discomfort in your cat as they will not be able to empty their bladder. The toxic waste that is typically released through urination will begin to back up into the bloodstream resulting in lethargy, disorientation, and vomiting. This condition requires an immediate trip to the emergency veterinarian to prevent your cat's bladder from rupturing.
How can PU surgery help my cat?
If your cat's condition can't be fixed using standard treatment options such as pushing the blockage away with a catheter, or your cat is prone to urinary blockages, a surgical procedure called perineal urethrostomy (PU) may be recommended by your vet.
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 will my cat's PU surgery recovery look like?
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 the healing process. The skin in this area is very thin and it can be difficult to repair tissue that is damaged from excessive licking. 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 their activity restricted. You should keep your cat in a small area or room and try to limit how much they move around and jump. They should also be kept away from other pets while they are recovering.
Immediately after the surgery, it is normal for your pet to have bloody urine for a few days and may have accidents as they get used to the new function of their urethra. This is temporary and we recommend you keep your cat in a room without carpet during their recovery from PU surgery so any accidents can be cleaned up easily. If blood or urine stains their back legs or belly, you can use a wet washcloth to clean them. Do not wipe the incision area directly.
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 is my cat's long-term prognosis after surgery?
The general outcome of PU surgery is positive. Most cats go on to live happy, healthy lives free of bladder obstructions.
That being said, there is always a risk when it comes to surgery. Speak with your vet about your individual cat's situation.
How much does PU surgery for a cat cost?
The cost of surgery varies 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. Speak with your veterinarian for 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 physical exams give your vet the opportunity to ensure your cat is in good health and receiving the right care at home to prevent blockages. There are also some things you can do at home to help promote urinary health in your cat:
- Increase your cat's water intake by providing clean, fresh water. There are also safe flavor additives that can be used to increase their desire to drink.
- Keep their litter box as clean as possible and frequently add fresh litter.
- If prone to urinary issues, try changing their diet to a urinary diet that has limited minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
- Reduce your cat's stress by avoiding changes to their environment as much as possible
- 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.