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Understanding Functional Urinary Retention in Cats

Functional urinary retention in cats refers to incomplete voiding of urine without an obstruction in the lower urinary tract. Unlike other causes, “functional” denotes issues arising from abnormalities in organ function. This condition, more prevalent in male cats, can lead to severe complications if not addressed promptly.

Symptoms and Types:

Palpably distended urinary bladder
Ineffective, frequent attempts to urinate without success
Weak, attenuated, or interrupted urine stream
Bladder leakage due to excessive fullness
Abdominal distension, pain, or signs of postrenal azotemia in rare cases
Muscular problems linked to recurrent urinary tract infections

Overactivity of the Detrusor Muscle in the Urinary Bladder (Detrusor Atony)

Develops after acute or chronic urinary bladder overdistension
Related to nervous system dysfunction, previous urinary blockage, or obstruction
Electrolyte disturbances like hyperkalemia, hypokalemia, hypercalcemia, hypocalcemia
Lesions in pelvic or sacral spinal cord nerves, leading to a flaccid or firm bladder
Functional Urinary Obstruction

Resulting from pelvic or urethral surgery
Anticholinergic medications affecting normal nerve actions
Excessive urethral resistance due to various causes like urethral obstruction or inflammation

Thorough history of the cat’s health, symptoms, and incidents leading to the condition
Blood profile, including chemical blood profile and complete blood count
Urinalysis to identify urinary tract infections or inflammation
Neurologic examination, evaluating lower spine, anal tone, tail tone, and perineal reflexes
Catheterization to rule out urethral obstruction
Imaging techniques like myelography, epidurography, CT scans, or X-rays to detect spinal lesions
Possible Causes Considered:

Extramural urethral compression, such as bladder neck mass or large prostate gland
Oliguria, anuria, and urinary tract rupture
Physical and mechanical obstruction leading to pollakiuria, stranguria, and hematuria
Lesions above or on the sacrum affecting signals from the brain
Impaired coordination of the detrusor muscle

Inpatient care until adequate urinary function returns
Specific identification and treatment of urinary tract infections
Addressing primary disorders like electrolyte disturbances and neurologic lesions
Management of azotemia, electrolyte imbalances, and acid-base disturbances
Surgical options for severe cases, including perineal urethrostomy in male cats
Lifetime management in cases where complete voiding function does not return
Periodic urinalysis to detect recurrent urinary tract infections in cats with chronic urine retention
Functional urinary retention in cats requires comprehensive diagnosis and tailored treatment plans. Prompt veterinary attention, including possible surgery and ongoing management, is crucial for the well-being of affected cats.

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