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Cats, Storms and Blocked Bladders: What’s the common link?

AWLQ’s Gold Coast Community Vet Clinic Director, Dr Andres Townsend, says storm season is the time for blocked bladders and warns cat owners to take note!

During summer storm season, the number of cats presenting to the clinic with blocked bladders (urethral obstruction) increases dramatically. Dr Townsend says the reasons for this may be related to the fact that cats can get stressed during storms and they do not like to get wet so refrain from going outside.

He says that cats who prefer to toilet outside will ‘hold on’ when it is raining. This coupled with severe weather changes like thunderstorms, can cause their stress levels to rise. For male cats particularly, this can cause major issues in the bladder that lead to inflammation and blockages.

Dr Townsend says that bladder blockages should be taken very seriously because, if left untreated, can cause death.

Whilst some cases can be treated with antibiotic and anti-inflammatories, others need general anaesthesia and a urinary catheter to allow the bladder to empty. In reoccurring cases however, surgery may be required.

“Surgery may be their last resort for cats that continue to be affected,” says Dr Townsend. “Only recently I operated on one such cat. The patient in question had suffered a number of blockages in the past and both the owner and I believed the best course of action moving forward would be surgical correction.”

4944007927_57a7cf2086Perenial urethrostomy (‘PU’) surgery is a procedure for male cats that can be likened to‘gender reassignment’. It involves the surgical widening of the urethra to make it more the size of a female urethra.

Whilst turning a male cat into a ‘female’ may seem extreme, it can vastly improve the quality of life for cats that suffer from reoccurring bladder blockages, which are both painful and life-threatening.

“As with all surgery, the operation is not without risks,” says Dr Townsend. “The decision to do surgery must be weighed carefully. For many patients though, the long-term benefits far outweigh the risks.”

So what are the symptoms of a blocked bladder in a cat? Here’s what to watch out for:cat-litter-tray

  • Signs of discomfort when trying to urinate such as straining
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Urinating in inappropriate places (such as around the house)

To help reduce the risk of bladder blockages in your cat Dr Townsend says that encouraging your cat to use a litter tray is a good start – that way poor weather won’t deter your cat from going to the toilet.

Additionally, if you feel your cat may be at risk, feeding him a predominantly canned food diet may reduce bladder blockages and is also recommended for treatment. This effect is believed to be due to the amount of water in canned foods, resulting in increased water consumption and therefore more dilute urine. Other measures to increase water consumption by the cat are also important. These include mixing additional water with canned food, making sure the cat always has access to clean water and finding other liquids the cat likes to drink.

Learn more about AWLQ’s Community Vet Clinics.