Well, Frank has!
Frank was brought into the clinic as an emergency after hours, when his owners were concerned that he was straining when toileting. Thankfully they brought him in when they did; Frank’s condition was most definitely an emergency.
His exam revealed that he was straining to urinate, with a very large firm bladder palpated – Frank was blocked! Being “Blocked” falls into the category of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (or “FLUTD).
A urinary blockage occurs when there is an obstruction in the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body).
When urine outflow is blocked electrolytes in the blood start quickly changing, dangerously lowering their heart rate. They also become very dehydrated from disturbance to kidney function. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.
It is also incredibly uncomfortable and usually quite painful – can you imagine your bladder being FULL TO BURSTING POINT and not being able to let it out!?
Often times it can be difficult for owners to determine WHAT they are straining to get out, so this condition is frequently confused with constipation until a clinical exam is carried out.
So, What did we do?
We ran comprehensive bloods on Frank to check his electrolyte levels. This is an imperative diagnostic in these cases as it helps to determine the stability of the patient prior to anaesthetising them to unblock and place a urinary catheter.
Dr. Alicia quickly created an anaesthetic plan to unblock Frank as safely as possible.
Frank was anaesthetised and connected to extensive monitoring equipment. Close monitoring throughout anaesthesia is imperative in ensuring the safest procedure possible, especially in critical cases like Frank’s.
A urinary catheter was used to unblock Frank’s urethra. This catheter was then stitched into place to remain for the next 3 days, allowing expression of urine. Frank was placed on intravenous (IV) fluids to restore dehydration deficits and continue to flush the urinary system.
Frank’s urine output was monitored very closely, to establish when it might be appropriate to remove the urinary catheter. Re-blocking is always a risk upon removal of the urinary catheter. In those cases a urinary catheter is replaced for longer. Thankfully, Frank did a few nice big pees for us in his litter tray that afternoon! We were happy to send him home for his parents to continue monitoring and start medicating.
Why does this condition happen?
Urethral blockage in male cats is quite common, less common in females due to their urethra being anatomically shorter. A number of abnormalities in cats urine can cause these blockages. For example: Small bladder stones, mucus, inflammatory cells, urinary crystals, blood clots or bacteria (usually a plug combined with other cells). Often stressors in their environment can be the initial factor causing them to get urinary issues. Sometimes, things as simple as changing the location of a piece of furniture, changing the carpet or new animals or people in the household can be enough stress to start the disease process.
Our cats can be quite sensitive little creatures!
So how is Frank now!?
Frank was on a special diet to reduce stress and improve urinary health, along with a concoction of medications to control muscles involved in urination.
His owners have been incredibly diligent following his treatment plan and have been watching him so well!
He came in for a re-visit and is doing marvellously. We are ALL really excited that he is now able venture back outside but none of us more than Frank himself!
He will continue on his prescription diet and we hope to only see him for cuddles and routine health checks in the future!