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Water intake and urinary obstruction in cats

Q: My cat Thomas was straining in the litter box but unable to pass urine. His veterinarian diagnosed a urinary obstruction and unblocked him.

The vet recommended several days of hospitalization with a urinary catheter to decrease the risk of recurrence. I couldn’t afford that, so I took Thomas home after he was unblocked. Now I’m worried. What percentage of cats re-block?

A: In a recent study of 91 cats with urinary obstruction, 19 cats (21 percent) re-blocked within 30 days, most within the first week after treatment. The study contrasted cats discharged immediately after they were unblocked, like Thomas, to cats hospitalized for several days with a urinary catheter and intravenous fluids to flush out the bladder.

Researchers found that 31 percent of the cats discharged immediately developed recurrent urinary obstruction in the first 30 days, whereas only 11 percent of the hospitalized cats re-blocked during that time.

In another study involving 50 cats, 22 percent re-blocked within six months, and 24 percent re-blocked within two years.

To improve the likelihood that Thomas will urinate normally throughout his life, ensure that he drinks plenty of water. Offer multiple water bowls and consider a pet fountain or an automatic cat faucet.

Feed the diet your veterinarian recommends. Canned food is mostly water, so a canned prescription diet is a good choice for a cat like Thomas.

Finally, keep Thomas happy by enriching his environment and minimizing stress.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

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