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PU Surgery in Cats

Urinary blockages can be painful and cause serious complications in some cats. If they occur frequently, your vet may recommend PU surgery. Here, our Turlock vets discuss perineal urethrostomy (PU) surgery in cats and what to expect during your cat's surgery and recovery.

What is PU surgery?

PU, or perineal urethrostomy in cats, is a surgery that is used to address recurring urinary blockages. The purpose is to create a larger opening in the urethra through which your cat can urinate. Typically, PU surgery is considered once it has been determined that urinary obstructions cannot be corrected by catheterization or if the cat has been experiencing repeated obstructions.

Urinary blockages can quickly become life-threatening for your cat. While this surgery decreases the likelihood of repeat blockages, it does not guarantee that obstructions will not reoccur. The care taken after surgery will help ensure the procedure is successful and lower the risk of future blockages.

While possible in both, a male cat is much more likely to experience urinary blockages than female cats due to the female urethra being much shorter and wider than the male urethra. As the male urethra extends the length of the penis, it becomes more narrow, increasing the likelihood of an obstruction occurring.

When does a cat need PU surgery?

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 using 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 that point, they can be managed using medication or surgery. If this method cannot clear the blockage, then perineal urethrostomy surgery may be required to allow the cat to urinate.
  • Recurrent urethral obstructions. Obstructions can 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 avoid or lower the risk of future obstructions.

What happens during PU surgery?

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. In the weeks following surgery, the drainage board will shrink, and your cat's fur will grow back, leaving your cat with more of an appearance of a female cat than a male.

How much does PU surgery for cats cost?

The cost of your cat's PU surgery will depend on various factors, including the required diagnostic tests, location, and severity of your cat's condition. Also, compared to the fees for frequently treating blockages, PU surgery might save you money in the long term. Don't hesitate to contact us at Community Veterinary Clinic to get a cost estimate.

What to Expect During Your Cat's Recovery After PU Surgery

After your cat has PU surgery, the recovery will depend on how well you follow post-op instructions. Because cats are notorious for attempting to clean and lick their wounds and may also attempt to scratch or bite the area, it is recommended that your cat wear an Elizabethan collar for the duration of the recovery process.

Your vet will also recommend keeping your cat in an area of the home where they can relax and will not be able to climb or jump onto furniture. Your cat should also be isolated from other pets to limit interactions and possible playtime, which could further injure your cat.

You will need to monitor your cat for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling, and attend any scheduled follow-up visits with the vet.

Long-Term Prognosis For Cats After PU Surgery

If your cat has undergone successful PU surgery 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.

Studies have shown that cats tend to live around three to five years after PU surgery. That being said, this surgery won't negatively harm their life expectancy. With proper preventive care, your cat can live a happy, healthy, blockage-free life.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is showing signs of urinary issues, please contact our Turlock vets to schedule an examination.

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