Urinary Blockage In Male Cats

What is a urinary blockage?
Male cats, more than females, have a particularly narrow urethra. When bacteria, mucus, crystals, or even small stones build up in the urethra, it makes it both difficult and sometimes impossible for urine to pass through. This is a true medical emergency as it is life-threatening! Complete urinary obstructions are fatal if not treated within 24 hours or less.

How can I tell if my cat is blocked?
Signs that your cat is completely or partially blocked include:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Going in and out of litter box
  • Producing small amounts of urine.
  • Blood in urine.
  • Loss of appetite/vomiting
  • Crying / howling when in the litter box.
  • Licking genitals
  • Hiding


At what age can my cat develop a blockage?

  • Cats between the ages of 1-10 years old are more prone to blocking factors that can make cats more prone to an obstruction. The average age is approximately four years old.

A cat’s living conditions can also play a big factor. Usually, cats exposed to a lot of stress or lack of a stimulating environment can be causes of urinary health issues. Obese cats or even cats on a dry food-only diet can be at greater risk. Moisture plays a large role in a cat’s diet.

As mentioned above, diets play a huge role in urinary health. Cats are not ones to drink a great deal of water like some other animals. Felines were designed to eat a meat-based, moisture-rich diet.

Can neutering my cat at too young an age cause future urinary issues?
Some people fear that the urinary tract development would be stunted if they Neutered their cat before 9-12 months of age. There is currently no evidence that proves or suggests that early castration is a cause for urinary health issues in cats.

What happens after my cat is treated?
After a cat is treated for a urinary blockage, the main concern is re-obstruction. Some cats are prone to re-obstructing sometime in the future after a first obstruction has occurred. After a cat has 2-3 blockages, it is often recommended to get a “sex change” surgery called Perineal Urethrostomy. This surgery removes the cat’s penis where the urethra is the most narrow, leaving the cat with a wider urethra less likely to become blocked.

How to prevent re-obstruction?
The best way to prevent your cat from blocking is by feeding a wet-food-only, specialized prescription diet specifically for urinary issues. Additionally, limiting the amount of stress your cat is exposed to at home and encouraging water intake by adding a pet fountain or other source of additional water intake.

Male Cats with Urinary Blockage

If your cat shows any signs of having a urinary blockage, it is important to schedule an appointment with our Veterinary Hospital for an examination.
Written by JK, a technician at World of Animals at Bethayres