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Northampton Veterinary Clinic

Urinary Obstructions

Old lady holding cat

Although feline urinary obstruction is currently the subject of much study and research, the exact cause is unknown.

The influence of environment, heredity, diet, infection and stress are being investigated. It is currently felt that the cat’s diet is a major contributor to obstruction in susceptible individuals.

Feline urinary obstruction occurs in all breeds and ages, in indoor and outdoor cats and in those fed a variety of diets. However, it is most commonly seen in adult, male neutered cats. It is one of the most serious and distressing diseases confronting cat owners and veterinarians. Fortunately new types of food are helping considerably.

Cats with a urinary obstruction cannot pass urine because of small stones or a gritty plug that clogs the urethra near the penis. Blockage of the urinary tract can prevent the kidneys from eliminating poisonous wastes from the body. The bladder becomes very full, because urine cannot be eliminated. Depression, weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, pain and eventually death will result if veterinary attention is not obtained.


  1. Irritability or restlessness

  2. Blood in urine

  3. Frequent trips to the litter box

  4. Straining while in a squatting position (often mistaken for constipation)

  5. Urinating in strange places throughout the house (i.e. the sink or bathtub)

These symptoms do not always mean your cat has an obstruction. The doctor can determine this with an examination.


  1. Deep cries of pain

  2. Constant abdominal straining

  3. Swollen, tender abdomen

  4. Inability to walk

  5. Vomiting


The presence of a urinary obstruction is an EMERGENCY SITUATION, and prompt treatment is essential. Treatment is directed at relieving the blockage and controlling pain and spasms with medication.

If treated early, many obstructed patients respond well. However, recurrence within a few hours to a few months can occur, and some patients die from complications of the disease.

Often blood tests are needed to check the kidney function. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the blockage and enlarge the urinary opening (perineal urethrostomy).


  1. Antibiotics (for secondary infection problems)

  2. Antispasmodics (to help reduce the pet’s straining in the box)

  3. Acidifiers (to help reduce the formation of the crystals)

  4. Diet Changes:

    1. Adding water to the food.

    2. Feeding foods specially formulated to dissolve the sandy crystals (prescription only)

  5. Checking the bladder for evidence of recurrent bladder enlargement.