My Blocked Cat Needs Surgery … Now What?


Urinary obstruction is an all too common phenomenon in the male cat. Cats as young as 8 months have been seen with this condition in our emergency hospital. Current diets are generally the culprit for most cats with dry food being one of the most important factors. Cats eating canned only food are much less likely to become obstructed. This is likely due to the higher water content and better quality protein in the diet of canned foods.

For the poor kitty that becomes repeatedly blocked, surgery to widen the urethra (the small tube which he urinates through) is generally recommended. The procedure is often referred to as a PU which is short for perineal urethrostomy. It is an overnight procedure. Cats are monitored in our 24 hour emergency hospital and treated for any discomfort or bleeding. If after 24 hours, the cat appears comfortable and there is no significant bleeding from the surgery site, they are discharged from the hospital. Owners are instructed to give their cat medication to treat pain and inflammation over the following 3-5 days. An E-collar is worn for about 2 weeks to prevent any licking/chewing at suture material. Sutures dissolve over time and do not require removal.

Potential complications for this procedure include:

  • infection
  • closure of the surgically created opening-this can be due to infection or trauma from licking/rubbing
  • bleeding

A small percentage of cats will also have stones within the urinary bladder that are too large to pass through the new opening. These cats must also undergo surgery at the same time to remove these stones from the bladder. Ultrasound is performed prior to surgery to examine closely for stones and determine the size of any stones found. Some are small enough (3-4 mm) to pass once the urethra has been widened.

Fortunately for most patients, the procedure results in an excellent outcome and the surgically created opening allows the cat to avoid future events of urinary obstruction.

How much does the procedure cost? It depends on where you go.  We have seen estimates in the Boston area as high as $4,000 for the surgery alone.  The total cost at our facility is between $1,200-$1,400 including hospitalization, surgery, and medications.  There are no hidden fees.  We know that this is often a life or death decision for pet owners.

Don’t hesitate to call us if you have questions regarding this procedure.