Urinary Blockage In Cats: Signs, Treatment Costs & Prevention

For this reason, cat owners must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of urinary blockage and be prepared to provide proper treatment for a blocked cat as soon as possible.

  • What is a urinary blockage in cats?
  • What causes urinary blockage in cats?
  • What are the signs of urinary blockage in cats?
  • How to treat urinary blockage in cats
  • How much does it cost to treat blocked cats?
  • How to prevent urinary blockage in cats?
  • How common is a urinary blockage in male cats?
  • Key Takeaways

What is a urinary blockage in cats?

A blockage in the urethra causes urinary obstruction in cats. When the urethra is obstructed, urine can back up into the bladder causing uremic toxins to build up in the bloodstream. If the obstruction persists for an extended period, the kidneys may expand and get damaged, causing the bladder to rupture or rip.

What causes urinary blockage in cats?

Feline urinary blockages can be caused by several underlying conditions, including:

  • A small stone or an accumulation of tiny stones that become lodged within the urethra
  • A ‘plug’ in the urethra, usually an accumulation of crystals, cells, proteins, or debris in the urethra
  • Swelling and spasm of the urethra, which typically occurs during inflammation of the urethra or bladder
  • Urinary obstruction can also result from feeding magnesium-rich foods
  • Less frequently, it can be caused by trauma, infections, or tumors.

Can stress cause urinary blockage in cats?

Research has shown that stress is another significant component in the development of urinary blockage.1 Stress-related lower urinary diseases, such as urethral spasms and cystitis, are common in cats and can lead to obstruction.

Your feline friend can be stressed if they compete with other cats in the house for food or time at the litter box, if they are bored, if other cats bother them, or if their litter box is dirty. Lowering your cat’s stress levels can decrease their risk of developing urinary tract ailments like urinary obstruction.

What are the signs of urinary blockage in cats?

The most common cat urinary blockage symptoms include repeated unsuccessful urination attempts, discomfort or crying when straining to urinate, and increasing agitation. You might notice other changes in your cat’s urinating behavior, such as increased urination frequency or even blood in the urine, depending on the underlying cause.

Furthermore, harmful waste materials that are supposed to leave the body through the urine will begin to build up in the bloodstream, causing symptoms such as vomiting, disorientation, and lethargy.

If you suspect your cat has a urinary blockage, be sure to contact your veterinarian right away because this is a medical emergency.

How to treat urinary blockage in cats

If your cat has a urinary obstruction, they should be taken to the pet emergency hospital at once to prevent a life-threatening situation. Typically, the attending vet team will treat your cat’s blockage with the following protocols:

  • An intravenous catheter may be used to administer fluids and drugs.
  • After that, the pet will be anesthetized, allowing them to insert a urinary catheter to clear the blockage and empty the bladder.
  • The catheter will be left in place for a few days to allow the urethra to heal and your four-legged friend to recover. Most cats with urinary obstruction remain hospitalized for several days.
  • Pain relievers, urethral relaxants, and antibiotics will most likely be prescribed, as well as a specially formulated therapeutic diet.

How much does it cost to treat blocked cats?

In general, non-surgical treatment for urinary blockage in a cat that does not re-obstruct when the catheter is removed will cost between $750 and $1,500. However, in the case of a cat that obstructs multiple times or requires surgery as part of its therapy, the cost can exceed more than $3,000.

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The final costs for treating a blocked cat will depend on several factors, such as how long the animal was blocked, whether they require surgery to correct the obstruction, the duration of the hospitalization, the type of hospital in which they received care, your location, etc.

How to prevent urinary blockage in cats

If your cat has already had a urinary blockage, they’re at significant risk of having it again. These tips can help you prevent another obstruction in your pet to minimize their pain and discomfort, as well as the financial strain to your bank account:

  • Nutrition is very important when it comes to preventing feline urinary obstruction. If your pet already has urinary-related health issues, a therapeutic cat food might help dissolve existing crystals or reduce the likelihood of new ones forming. It can also help maintain a good urine pH, which is important for general urinary health. Prescription food can be obtained from your vet and should only be given under their direction.

  • Water consumption is crucial for eliminating debris from your cat’s system and preventing urinary blockages. If your cat eats dry food, try giving them water from a drinking fountain instead of a bowl, flavoring a second water bowl with tuna juice, or switching to canned food to boost hydration.

  • Keep your cat’s litterbox clean. Make your cat’s bathroom time comfortable if you want them to maintain an empty bladder as much as possible. Always keep at least one extra litter box than the number of cats in your household, and place them in easy-to-access locations. Determine the type of litter and tray your cat prefers. The most popular are large, uncovered trays with unscented, clumping litter.

  • Reduce stress. Stress relief is extremely important for a cat’s urinary health. You may need to change your cat’s living surroundings to reduce their stress levels (for instance, if they’re constantly fighting with other cats in your home). In addition, cats want a predictable pattern, so make sure to maintain their routine as consistently as possible. Allow your cat plenty of activity for both their body and mind. Play with them, get cat toys and scratchers, and put up perches near the windows.

How common is a urinary blockage in cats?

Feline urinary obstructions are extremely common, accounting for as many as 10% of all feline cases in emergency clinics. Males are more prone to blockages than females because their urethra is significantly longer and narrower, so neutered males are at increased risk. In addition, urinary blockages are more common in indoor cats.

Illnesses and injuries can come out of the blue, even for indoor cats, so be sure your pet is protected. Pet insurance is valuable because it allows you to provide your feline friend with the care they need without worrying about financial hardship.

Use Pawlicy Advisor as a pet insurance comparison tool to view plans from top pet insurance providers side-by-side, so you can find the one and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Protect Your Cat With Pet Insurance Is Pet Insurance Worth It For Cats?

— Update: 11-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Perineal Urethrostomy (PU) Surgery in Cats from the website www.argylevet.com for the keyword cost of cat urinary blockage.

Cats undergo PU (perineal urethrostomy) surgery when they experience urinary blockages that can’t be treated effectively through standard means. Here, our Argyle vets discuss why urinary blockages happen and how PU surgery for cats can be an effective way to stop them from occurring. 

How do urinary blockages happen in cats?

Urinary blockages are caused by ‘plugs’ made of protein-rich sludge, crystals, or small stones that can get stuck in your cat’s urethra – the tube that allows your cat to urinate. Neutered male cats are more likely to have urinary blockages because they have a narrower urethra, meaning less material can get through.

What are the symptoms of a urinary blockage in a cat?

When a cat has an obstruction in their urethra, they will squat to pee more frequently than normal but little to no urine will actually be expelled. You may notice them frequently going to the litter box, trying to urinate in other spots outside the litter box, or meowing while in the litter box. They may also lick 

As the bladder fills up but is unable to be expelled it will cause your cat serious and noticeable discomfort and pain. If the issue isn’t treated promptly it can lead to a bladder rupture.

Another concern with urinary blockages is that the toxic waste that is typically released through urination will begin to back up into the bloodstream resulting in lethargy, disorientation, and vomiting. 

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How can PU surgery help my cat?

The first treatment option a vet will usually try to resolve a urinary blockage is using a catheter to clear it. If they are unable to, or if your cat experiences frequent urinary blockages, they may recommend a procedure called perineal urethrostomy (PU). 

This procedure is designed to make the urethra wider, thus allowing potential blockages to pass through rather than getting stuck. This surgery reduced the risk of future blockages but does not guarantee that they will never get an obstruction again.

What is cat PU surgery recovery like?

Your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent licking or biting at the surgical site. Excessive licking can interfere with healing and if your cat licks or gets to the incision, there may not be any tissue left to repair since the skin is very thin. This collar is typically worn for two weeks, but your vet must give the okay before it can be removed. 

Your cat will also need to be kept calm and have their activity restricted. Your veterinarian may recommend confining your cat to a small area, away from other pets, where their activity can be limited and they can be closely monitored.

Immediately after the surgery, it is normal for your pet to have bloody urine for a few days and may have accidents as they get used to the new function of their urethra. This is temporary and we recommend you keep your pet in a room with tile during your cat’s recovery from PU surgery so any accidents can be cleaned up easily. If blood or urine stains their back legs or belly, you can use a wet washcloth to clean them. Do not wipe the incision area directly.

Your cat will require a special litter for his recovery so it won’t stick to the incision. You can use shredded newspaper or if your cat prefers a pelleted litter, you can purchase pelleted paper litter. Be prepared and have an appropriate paper litter ready for your cat when he gets home. You can return to your regular litter after they have healed.

What is my cat’s long-term prognosis after surgery?

The general prognosis for PU surgery is good. There is a slight risk that cats will form a stone that is too large to fit through even the wider urethra, but generally cats do not reobstruct after the surgery. 

What does PU surgery for a cat cost?

PU surgery cab be expensive and prices will vary depending on the diagnostic tests needed, and the extent of the condition. It typically ranges between $3, 000 – $4, 500 Alternatively, if you compare the cost of surgery to the cost of frequent treatment for blockages, it may actually save you money in the long run. Please contact our Argyle vets to get an estimate for the procedure. 

    How can I prevent my cat from developing a urinary obstruction?

    Proper preventive care is the key to reducing your cat’s risk of developing urinary blockages. To help your cat maintain their urinary tract health, here are a few things you can do at home:

    • Increase your cat’s water intake by providing clean, fresh water, or adding some flavor.
    • Change their diet to a urinary health diet that has limited minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
    • Reduce your cat’s stress by keeping their litter clean, and reducing changes to their schedule.
    • Offer an enriched environment with perches, moving toys, or food puzzles.

     Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    — Update: 11-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article How Much Does Cat Urinary Treatment Cost? (2023 Price Guide) from the website petkeen.com for the keyword cost of cat urinary blockage.

    Cost of cat urinary blockage

    Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)1 refers to a series of painful conditions, ranging from urinary tract infections to cancer, that can affect a cat’s lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and the urethra. The buildup of bacteria in the urethra, bladder stones, or crystals in the urethra can all cause painful blockages in your cat, which can lead to death if left untreated.

    An appointment with a veterinarian is needed to properly diagnose which FLTUD issue your cat is experiencing so that it can receive proper treatment. Urinary treatment costs can vary based on the severity of your cat’s case, but we’ve compiled a list of potential prices to help you plan for a FLTUD emergency.

    Cost of cat urinary blockage

    The Importance of Cat Urinary Treatment

    Proper care and treatment are going to be very important if your cat is experiencing FLTUD symptoms. Cats experiencing urinary tract issues may have crystals forming in their urethra or bladder, leading to painful blockages, discomfort, and even death if their urethra is totally obstructed.

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    Signs of urinary issues in cats include trying to urinate frequently with no urine output (or very little), bloody urine, lethargy, or vomiting. Many cats also start to urinate in other areas of the home, such as bathtubs, sinks, and your clean laundry.

    If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms or behaviors, it’s important to reach out to your veterinarian as soon as you notice an issue. There are several different types of FLUTD, so your vet may have to perform a series of tests to identify the exact FLUTD issue the cat is experiencing.

    Cost of cat urinary blockage
    Image Credit; Andy Gin, Shutterstock

    4 Types of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

    Cost of cat urinary blockage

    How Much Does Cat Urinary Treatment Cost?

    Treatment for cat urinary can vary depending on the underlying FLUTD issue your cat is experiencing. A visit to the veterinarian is a necessity, as trying to treat your cat’s symptoms on your own when dealing with a blocked urethra can result in death. The costs for cat urinary treatment can vary a little from practice to practice, but costs for treatment are roughly the same throughout the United States.

    Treating UTIs

    An uncomplicated UTI will typically cost between $200 to $500, which usually includes the cost of the vet visit, urinalysis, x-rays (if needed), antibiotics, and possibly a prescription urinary diet. After the UTI is treated, many veterinarians recommend a prescription urinary diet, which can include canned food, or special dry food—which can cost between $60 to $100, depending on the needs of your cat.

    Non-surgical treatment with a catheter may be needed, which can cost between $750 and $1,500, if the cat doesn’t develop another obstruction. This price will usually include the vet visit, diagnostic tests, urine sample testing, and prescription diet.

    Cost of cat urinary blockage
    Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

    Treating Bladder Stones

    A cystotomy is a procedure for bladder stone removal that can cost pet owners a fair amount of money based on the severity of the bladder stones involved. The costs vary across the country due to a variety of issues, including pre-and post-operation medications, ultrasounds, x-rays, hospitalization, etc. Cystotomy will typically cost anywhere between $1,400-$4,000, depending on the previously discussed factors.

    Treating Recurring Blockages

    If the cat has multiple obstructions over time, a surgery called perineal urethrostomy (PU) will need to be performed to treat recurrent blockage of the urethra. A PU surgery makes the urethra wider, causing fewer blockages.

    However, there is no guarantee that a cat will not experience blockages again in their life.  The costs for this procedure, along with medications, hospitalization, the procedures, diagnostics, etc. typically run between as low as $1,200 to $5,000, based on the severity of your cat’s case.

    Cost of cat urinary blockage

    Ways to Reduce FLTUD in Cats

    Once your cat experiences a urinary issue, such as a UTI or blockage, there is a significant chance that your favorite feline will experience another urinary issue again. There are a few things you can do to help prevent further lower urinary tract issues again:

    Cost of cat urinary blockage
    Image Credit: Irina 1 Nikolaenko, Shutterstock

    Does Pet Insurance Cover Cat Urinary Treatment?

    Pet owners who insured their cats from a young age are more likely to have urinary treatments covered as part of their accident and illness coverage with their pet insurance company. Getting coverage early, while your pet is still young and healthy, means that if your cat develops any FLUTD issues, they’re not considered pre-existing conditions. Call your pet insurance company to check if they’ll cover urinary issues if your cat is displaying symptoms of FLUTD.

    If your cat recently had a FLUTD issue, it may be difficult to get coverage, as many of the associated urinary issues are considered pre-existing, and the insurance won’t cover them. Some pet insurances are now covering curable pre-existing conditions, such as a bladder or urinary tract infection, if the condition was treated and cured within 180-365 days of obtaining coverage. Bladder crystals and urinary blockages are usually considered incurable pre-existing conditions, and will not be covered by new pet insurance policies.

    Cost of cat urinary blockage


    Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) can be a very scary thing when it happens to your cat, and urinary treatment can be expensive. Proper treatment by a licensed veterinarian is the only way to ensure the best health outcome for your cat, so it can continue to live a long and healthy life. We hope our updated price guide helps you prepare for the costs associated with the life-saving veterinary care your cat needs if they experience a FLTUD health issue.

    Featured Image Credit: didesign021, Shutterstock


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    About the Author: Tung Chi