A urinary blockage or infection are a common reasons adult cats are rushed to the vet but can happen at any age. Sometimes, a cat may only have a urinary tract infection (UTI), but other times it might be a blockage such as a bladder stone. Both cats and dogs can develop clusters of crystals or stones, which we call kidney stones, but the technical word is nephroliths or uroliths.
Importantly, urinary blockages require immediate veterinary help within 24 hours.
While we often hear about UTIs, cat lovers may not be aware their cat could have kidney stones or an obstruction called a “urethral plug” blocking the cat’s urethra. Such a plug created from minerals and tissue could be fatal to a cat if left unchecked, as they can’t pass urine at all. It’s more common in male cats because of the narrow urethra.
Below, we share the story of Scooter, a cat with a urinary blockage who survived thanks to the quick-thinking of rescuer Mel Lamprey.
Scooter Develops a Dangerous Urinary Blockage
In September, special needs animal rescuer Lamprey, owner of Pumpkin Patch Pet Rescue in LA, shared that her long-time resident cat named Scooter was suffering from a urethral plug. As a cat who had filtered water and high-quality wet food since he was a kitten, there didn’t seem to be a dietary cause, but it was possibly genetic. Even after changing to prescription food and calming medication, he continued to have chronic problems.
“We did everything we could, but his body still produced stones, which led us to surgery,” she said.
Initially, a plug of crystals and tissue was blocking the end of the penis and the vet needed to free the blockage. Then, poor Scooter’s problems continued as he had multiple stones too.
Fortunately, Lamprey caught the problem quickly, but it would have been easy to overlook. Scooter was acting normally, but she saw a tiny drop of blood on the litter box liner and had to quickly act to determine which cat it belonged to.
She also shared how she caught two other foster cats who had developed a urinary blockage and a UTI.
Scooter’s Road to Recovery
After over a month, Scooter is doing much better, but it was a slow recovery after Perineal Urethrostomy (PU) surgery.
“It’s been one month and two days since Scooter’s emergency PU surgery, and things are finally looking up! As you know from following along, Scooter’s recovery was pretty rough. He did not take it well and a sort of depression really got to him. We had some ups and downs with force feedings and fluids and physical pain, but eventually, and exhaustingly, got through it,” Lamprey shared.
The surgery opens up the urethra:
“Perineal urethrostomy (referred to as a PU) is a surgical procedure that is performed on male cats with a urinary obstruction. This procedure removes the narrowest part of the urethra (the tube that transports the urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body), allowing easier urination with a lower risk of re-obstruction. A less scientific description would be that they essentially turn the male parts into female parts,” she said. “While obviously this isn’t what we wanted, everyone agreed that this surgery would give Scooter his best quality of life.”
Following surgery, he needed to wear a cone to aid in healing. But over time, he has been weaned off medication.
“His appetite is almost back to normal. We’re having to make a few adjustments integrating him back into the pack. But overall, and despite the difficulties for everyone, we do realize that this was a life-saving surgery for Scooter and we’re grateful for it. 🙏🏻”
We’re so happy to see that Scooter is on the mend and his story may help save many other cats out there!
Lamprey shared a detailed list of why such blockages can happen on Instagram. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat common, but many people aren’t aware. Since immediate action is required to save the cat, raising awareness is important.
“A cat can die within 24 hours of a blockage,” she shared. “It must be caught and treated quickly. If you suspect a blockage or other issue, act immediately, especially if it’s a male cat.”
Please see our previous article for more about the contributing factors and common signs.
Act Fast if You Suspect a Urinary Blockage
As Lamprey says, consult your veterinarian right away if you suspect your cat could have a urinary blockage or UTI. It could mean life or death. Others on the Instagram thread shared their stories of helping cats with urinary-related health emergencies.
“Being aware of urinary crystals/stones and the signs of them is so important. It sounds dramatic, but catching a problem early on can literally mean life and death for your cat,” she says.
Thankfully, Scooter recovered and is back to being a silly boy today. Thanks to Mel Lamprey and Zane for sharing this important story.
“Adding a pipe cleaner made it taste way better?🤔 Anyone else’s pet put things in their water dishes?”