Cats with the inability to urinate (urethral obstruction) need to be seen by a doctor immediately as it is a life-threatening emergency. Symptoms include straining to urinate with no urine production, crying, lethargy, anorexia, and hiding. They may be dribbling urine and sometimes blood is seen in the urine. Urethral obstruction is most often seen in middle aged male cats although any cat can develop this problem. There are many causes of the obstruction including urinary stones, cancer, and infection although often no cause is found. The obstruction causes life-threatening electrolyte abnormalities so seek medical attention immediately if you suspect your cat is unable to urinate. Treatment involves passing a catheter to relieve the blockage, correcting electrolyte abnormalities and dehydration, and addressing any underlying problem. Long-term management is crucial in preventing further episodes.
Dr. Jodi Heim, D.V.M.-HAH
Tufts University, 2011