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Urethral Obstruction in Male Cats

Urethral Obstruction (UO) is a condition that prevents an animal from being able to urinate and unfortunately a life-threatening condition that is more prevalent in young to middle age male cats.

Male cats are more vulnerable to UO because their urethra (the portion of the urinary tract connecting the bladder to the outer environment) is longer and narrower than in female cats.

Pathological Factors

Urine can’t be passed out of the body, after the urethral blockage. This will lead to an overfilled bladder and kidneys will be at high risk, if the condition remains untreated for 3-4 days.

Kidneys may start to inflame involving kidney failure. Electrolyte imbalance in blood with high creatinine levels of toxicity leaves the bladder to potentially rupture.

Risk Factors

Overweight cats & cats with total dry food intake are more prone to develop the condition.

Cats, feeding on a high magnesium diet.

Chances of physical urethral obstruction are,  with an incidence of 20% kidney stones, 5% tumors, strictures & 60% inflammatory urethral plugs.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis may also lead to urethral obstruction in cats.


 The most prominent sign is the straining of the cat to urinate. Cat owners may confuse it with constipation.

Multiple attempts to pass urine.

Blood in the urine.

Cats are lethargic & anorexic.

Vocalizing due to pain.

Depressed mental state due to electrolyte imbalance.

Cats start to avoid human contact & start hiding.

Cat urinate outside the litter box.


Medical history

Physical examination

Ultrasound or X-ray

Blood & Urine test

In the case of UTI, a urine culture test


In this condition, cats are always in the need of emergency treatment. Veterinary hospital staff will pass the intravenous catheter to deliver fluids & medical treatment. A urine catheter is passed,  after sedation, to clear the blockage, relieve the pain and empty the bladder. The urinary catheter is left in place for several days to heal the urinary tract.

Once your cat is at normal urination, she’ll be home with a prescription for antibiotics, urethral pain & relaxation medicine with the recommendation of specific renal food for cats.

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