Urethral Obstruction in a 10-year-old Male Castrated Domestic Shorthair Cat

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A 10-year-old male castrated Domestic Shorthair cat presented to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals’ Emergency Service for a two-day history of straining to urinate. Two days prior to presentation, the patient was straining to urinate, producing small amounts of urine outside of the litter box and the day prior to presentation the patient was not observed to produce any urine. The patient had no previous history of urinary issues, had no past pertinent medical history, and was not on any medications. On presentation, the patient was tachycardic and straining to urinate with no urine production. On physical examination, a medium sized, turgid bladder was palpated. Point of care blood work revealed a respiratory alkalosis with compensation, a metabolic acidosis, and an elevated blood urea nitrogen.

Given the history of stranguria with an inability to produce urine and a firm bladder on palpation, the patient was diagnosed with a urethral obstruction. The patient was sedated and successfully unblocked with a Slippery Sam catheter and retrograde flushing with saline. The catheter was secured in place and a closed urinary collection system was attached. Abdominal radiographs confirmed appropriate catheter placement and a small faint, mineral opacity was also present in the bladder. A focused ultrasound of the bladder was performed and the bladder lumen was found to contain a small-to-medium amount of hyperechoic dependent sediment, with no mineral calculi present. The patient was hospitalized and managed on the critical care service. He received intravenous fluids, buprenorphine, and prazosin. While in hospital, his urinary output was carefully monitored. After two days of hospitalization the patient was discharged.

This seminar will discuss the etiology, pathogenesis, management, and prognosis of feline urethral obstruction.

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urethral obstruction; stranguria; unblocking


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