Mr. Jinx is a 5 year old neutered male cat. He was brought in last week with a complaint of going to the cat box frequently and crying. The owner noted spots of bloody urine dribbling around the house.

On presentation, Mr. Jinx was somewhat depressed. His was breathing rapidly and his heart rate was elevated. When we palpated his belly, his bladder was large, firm and painful. We ran blood tests, urinalysis and radiographs of Mr. Jinx’s abdomen. The blood tests were normal. The urinalysis revealed large amounts of blood and white blood cells along with crystals known as struvite. X-rays showed a large bladder with no gross evidence of stones.

We diagnosed Mr. Jinx with urethral obstruction caused by accumulation of crystals and debris in the penis. This is a life threatening disease because if an animal can’t urinate, the pressure backs up into the kidney and causes them to go into renal failure. Mr. Jinx was fortunate, in that his owners caught the problem early before major problems occurred.

Treatment of urethral obstruction involves attempting to pass a catheter through the urethra into the bladder. We sedated Mr. Jinx and passed a small catheter through some very gritty debris. Unfortunately, the urethra plugged up as soon as we removed the catheter. This being the case, we were forced to perform a surgery known as a perineal urethrostomy. In this surgery, the end of the penis is amputated and the urethra is opened up to the point where it widens near the pelvic inlet. The urethra is then sewn to the skin creating a larger opening which is much less subject to obstruction.

This is a delicate surgery as you can imagine, and the recovery requires 2 weeks of confinement with an Elizabethan collar on the head to protect the wound. Mr. Jinx did very well post operatively and is urinating without problem today.

In order to help prevent future occurrences of this problem, Mr. Jinx was placed on a special diet by Hill’s pet nutrition called C/D multicare. This diet is formulated to reduce the chance of crystal formation.

You cat owners should take a lesson from Mr. Jinx and keep close tabs on your kitty’s urination patterns. Get to know how often your pet visits the litter box when everything is normal so that you can tell when things are not normal. Keep a mental note of approximately how much urine you clean out of the box each day so you can tell if there is less or more present. Less may mean there is a problem urinating, or that your pet is urinating elsewhere. More urine can be a sign of diabetes or kidney disease and should be looked into as well.

The problem of crystal formation and obstruction is part of a larger syndrome known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.