Cats are pretty notorious for urinary issues and can experience blockages in their bladder. Our Dallas vets discuss this life-threatening condition and the surgical treatment option known as Perineal Urethrostomy (PU) surgery.
What Is Perineal Urethrostomy (PU) Surgery in Cats?
A perineal urethrostomy (PU) is a surgical reconstruction of the tube your cat urinates through called the urethra. The purpose is to create a larger opening through which your cat can urinate. Typically, PU surgery is considered once it has been determined that urinary obstructions either cannot be corrected by catheterization or if the cat has been experiencing repeated obstructions.
Blockages in the urinary tract can become life-threatening very fast. This surgery can greatly reduce the likelihood of recurring blockages, but it is not a 100% guarantee that a large obstruction will not cause an issue in the future. The care taken after surgery will help to ensure that the procedure was a success and lower the risk of future blockages.
Despite the fact that it is possible for both male and female cats to experience urinary blockages, it is far more common in male cats. This is due to the fact that female cats have much shorter and wider urethras. As the male urethra extends the length of the penis it becomes more narrow increasing the likelihood of an obstruction occurring.
When PU surgery might be recommended
Perineal urethrostomy surgery is most commonly recommended in the following situations.
- A urethral obstruction within the penis that cannot be removed - The most common treatment for urethral obstructions is through the use of a urinary catheter. Your vet would pass this catheter through the external opening of the urethra forcing any stones or mucus within the urethra into the bladder, at which point they can be managed using medication or surgery. If this method is unable to clear the blockage then perineal urethrostomy surgery may be required in order to allow the cat to urinate.
- Recurrent urethral obstructions - It is possible for obstructions to be common and reoccurring in some male cats. Although it is possible to continually remove the blockages in these cats, they may also benefit from perineal urethrostomy surgery to try to avoid or lower the risk of future obstructions.
How PU surgery can help your cat
The main concern that is addressed during PU surgery is the narrow urethra in the distal penis, so the goal of the surgery will be to widen the urethra.
Your vet will complete this by incising the penis and suturing it open to create a stoma (an opening) and drainage board. Over the weeks following surgery, the drainage board will shrink and your cat's fur will grow back and leave your cat with more of an appearance of a female cat rather than a male.
After-care required after PU surgery
Because cats are notorious for attempting to clean and lick their wounds as well as the chance that they may attempt to scratch or bite at the area it is recommended that your cat wear an Elizabethan collar or a surgical recovery suit for the duration of the recovery process.
It is also recommended that your cat be kept in a quiet and relaxing area of the house without access to furniture that can be climbed or jumped up and down from. Your cat should also be isolated from other pets to limit interactions and possible playtime which could further injure your cat.
What to Expect Once Your Cat Has Undergone PU Surgery
If your cat has undergone PU surgery that was successful and the recovery process was without complications then there should be no further concerns. There may be a rare case where a cat experiences another obstruction after having PU surgery, but this is highly unlikely.