Cat Spinal Cord Injury and Bladder Problem

by Kate
(New York, NY)

My cat has a spinal cord injury (paralyzed tail). He can normally pee a small bit on his own, and also leaks some urine unconsciously, but mainly he relies on me to express (empty his bladder by pressing on his bladder externally) him.

He recently had a crisis where he wouldn't/couldn't let me express him, & he was straining over the litter box on his own as if he was constipated with poop (he was empty of poop.) He stopped eating & started vomiting bile from the strain of the trying to urinate.

The vet catheterized him, x-rayed him, tested,etc. All they came up with was blood in his urine & gave him an antibiotic & observed.

After discharge & finishing his antibiotic he started getting difficult to express again.
He tested positive for leukocytes/blood in his urine using AZO strips and he is back on antibiotics. I’ve had to use Acepromazine pet sedative twice to express him in the last five days. Without the sedative he seems blocked or completely uncooperative.

With the sedative, which also loosens the urinary flow, I can express him easily and continue the antibiotic treatment.

I have over a year experience expressing this cat, so it is not my technique that is the problem.
He is on a urine acidifier gel since the first issue, although no visible crystals were seen on radiology screenings.

Veterinarian Suggestion Cat Urinary Problem

Hello Kate,

Your cat is so lucky to have you sticking with him through all of this! Whenever neutered male cats develop any type of urinary problem, they are at risk for blockage because they have such narrow urethras.

Irritation can cause the muscles in the urethra’s wall to contract effectively closing off the tube through which urine must flow. This is called a urethral spasm. I can’t say with certainty that this is what is going on with your cat, but it’s certainly a possibility.

Giving him medication to relax the urethra (diazepam and prazosin are commonly used) could be very helpful. Environmental enrichment (e.g. providing a stress free environment and relief from boredom) and feeding canned food only can also have a positive effect on cases like this.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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