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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My cat has a urinary blockage and is at the vet right at the moment. We had to admit him a second time since he became blocked again within a day. He has struvite crystals. Both times we’ve taken him in, the catheter was not able to be passed through to his bladder. The first time the vet was able to get the catheter about 85% in and the second time only about 30%. The vet though it may be a spasm so my kitty has recently been given an anti-inflammatory in the hopes that it will make it easier to insert a catheter later.

My question is what other possibilities are there if this latest attempt is unsuccessful? My vet mentioned that a perineal urethrostomy (PU) may not be very helpful since the obstruction is pretty far up the urinary canal.

Any further informaion for my own peace of mind would be appreciated.


Siouxsie: As you no doubt know by now, urinary blockage is a very serious and potentially fatal condition which is much more common in male cats than female cats because of the male cat’s long, narrow urethra. We’re glad you got your cat to the vet promptly because you saved his life in doing so!

Thomas: Any time you see a cat — male or female — exhibiting the symptoms of a urinary tract infection or blockage, it’s critical that the cat get treatment as soon as possible.

Dahlia: We’re not veterinarians, and we wouldn’t presume to second-guess your vet on what he or she is doing to help your cat. We are quite certain, however, that treatments for stubborn blockages do exist (your cat is not the only one who’s ever had such a blockage) and we trust that your vet knows all the options available and is doing all he or she can for your kitty.

Siouxsie: We can reassure you that blockages are treated successfully in a vast, vast majority of cases.

Thomas: Once your cat recovers from his blockage, you’ll need to focus on prevention of infections, inflammation, or crystal development in the future.

Dahlia: You mentioned that your cat has struvite crystals. Struvite crystals are formed when the urine is too alkaline. Another type of crystals, oxalate crystals, are formed when the urine is too acidic.

Siouxsie: Generally, treatment of crystals involves a diet that helps to give the urine a proper pH (acid-alkaline balance) in order to prevent the development of crystals in the future.

Thomas: Your vet may recommend that your cat eat a prescription diet in order to regulate the urine’s pH. There are prescription diets available for cats with struvite or oxalate crystals, as well as an array of other chronic illnesses.

Dahlia: The late, great Sinéad O’Kitty (may she frolic forever in the mouse-filled fields and roll in catnip whenever she wants) used to have a problem with urinary tract infections, and our vet recommended a few things to help prevent future recurrences.

Siouxsie: First, always provide lots of pure water. The most economical way to make sure water is pure is to purchase a pitcher filter and only give your cats water that has been run through that device. This is particularly important if your tap water is chlorinated or has other chemical additives such as fluoride, because these chemicals not only make water taste unpleasant, they can increase the pH of urine (chlorine is very alkaline).

Thomas: Second, don’t feed seafood-flavored cat food. Ever. Our vet has found, through many years of work in the field, that for some reason tuna and other seafoods irritate some cats’ bladders and may contribute to development of stones or crystals.

Dahlia: Of course, make sure your cat’s litterbox is clean and that you are using unscented litter in an open-topped box. Dirty boxes, chemical scents, or covered toilwra can cause a cat to be reluctant to use the box. I mean, really! How would you like to have to walk barefoot over puddles of pee and pieces of poo every time you had to go to the bathroom? And scented litter in a covered box is a kitty gas chamber.

Siouxsie: Some vets recommend increasing the amount of canned food you give your cat, so that your cat consumes more water. Mmmm, gooshy foods!

Thomas: Finally, reduce the cat’s stress level as much as possible. If there have been major changes in the cat’s life, make sure to make time to keep things as normal as possible. If the cat is extremely anxious or stressed, consider using Feliway, a synthetic pheromone that promotes a feeling of calmness in cats.

Dahlia: So, Josh, we hope we’ve managed to reassure you a little bit, and that the tips we’ve given here will help you to prevent future infections and crystal development in your cat.