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Speed, Water Critical for Treating Blocked Urinary Tracts in Cats

Posted Nov 20 2013 6:00am
Dr. Coates is a veterinarian based in the other “Sunshine State” – that's Colorado to the rest of you – where she lives and plays with a varied range of animals. She shares her professional and personal experiences, Monday through Friday, here on petMD's blog, the Fully Vetted. Log in for your daily dose of her insight and wisdom. < Previous Post Next Post > Nov 20, 2013 Speed, Water Critical for Treating Blocked Urinary Tracts in Cats by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM     Share       Save to mypetMDYesterday, we looked at research that indicated medical treatment without the use of a urinary catheter could be an effective and less expensive option for treating blocked male cats who have not yet developed severe biochemical abnormalities. Today, let’s look at another study that may help improve outcomes for cats who are catheterized.
Eight-three male cats diagnosed with urethral obstruction at private veterinary emergency hospitals  were initially enrolled in the study. Cats received whatever diagnostic tests and forms of treatment the veterinarian(s) in charge of their cases deemed appropriate, but they had to have had an indwelling urinary catheter put in place to be included in the study. A variety of parameters from their medical records were evaluated after the cats left the hospital, and owners completed a follow-up survey after discharge. A number of cats were lost to follow-up during that time, so only 68 cats finished the study.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that 10 cats reobstructed between the time they went home and when their owners completed the follow up survey (median time 41 days). Older cats (average age 7.8 years) were more like to reobstruct than were younger cats (average age 4.8).
Leaving the urinary catheter in place for a longer period of time reduced the risk of reobstruction. The difference between the length of time the urinary catheter was left in place was not that great (21.6 +/- 15.2 hours for the cats who reobstructed versus 32.1 +/- 14.2 hours for those who didn’t), but it was significant.
Increasing the availability of water also significantly reduced the risk of reobstruction. Owners used several different ways to accomplish this including increasing the number of water bowls, adding a kitty water fountain to the house, allowing the cat to drink from the sink, adding water to food, and mixing flavoring into the water.
In combination, the studies we looked at yesterday and today tell me three important things  

If there is a chance that your cat may be blocked, take him to a veterinary hospital ASAP. This is not only the humane thing to do but also increases the likelihood that the doctor might be able to successfully treat him without the use of a urinary catheter, thereby significantly reducing the cost of treatment.
If a urinary catheter is necessary, don’t be in a rush to take it out. Yes, this may increase the short-term costs associated with treatment, but a decreased chance of reobstruction is well worth it from both a medical and financial point of view.
Owners should do everything within their means to increase the amount of water their cats take in once they get home, regardless of how they were treated in the hospital.


Dr. Jennifer Coates
Evaluation of risk factors associated with recurrent obstruction in cats treated medically for urethral obstruction. Eisenberg BW, Waldrop JE, Allen SE, Brisson JO, Aloisio KM, Horton NJ. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Oct 15;243(8):1140-6. 
Image: Thinkstock
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TheOldBroad Fluids 11/20/2013 06:07pm Do you think it would be any advantage for the owner to give sub-q fluids for a couple of weeks after the kitty goes home?

How about a dietary change? Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 Dr. Jennifer Coates 11/21/2013 11:08am If getting enough fluids in orally proved difficult, then yes, SQ fluids would be an option. Cats with a history of urinary blockage should eat canned food only to increase their water consumption. More specific dietary recommendations would be based on the specifics of their case. For instance, if crystals/stones were involved a specific type of type could help prevent a recurrence. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1
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