When you empty your cat's litter box daily, you can pay attention to any interruption in urinating. When he isn't going like usual, it could be any number of things, but they all mean the same thing: Get to a vet, so your furball obtains expert help.
Urinary Tract Disorders
If he isn't going No. 1, he most likely has feline lower urinary tract disease. FLUTD isn't necessarily any one thing, but rather a classification that includes several different urinary tract dysfunctions. When your cat has FLUTD, he could have a simple blockage, a cancerous tumor or even just a severe stress reaction. Since the causes of FLUTD are so varied, you need to see a vet as soon as you notice that he isn't going to the bathroom like usual.
Your cat may be unable to urinate because of a physical blockage, creating a sort of clogged drain scenario. His urethra could be blocked by a kidney stone, crystals or even a gradual accumulation of debris that hasn't quite passed when he urinates. Males are more susceptible to physical blockages because their urethras aren't as wide as a female's. A blocked urethra is painful and life threatening, which is why seeing a vet immediately is so important.
Injury and Disease
A multitude of internal injuries, infections and diseases can lead to FLUTD. For example, your cat could have a tumor growing in the urinary tract that is preventing him from passing urine. He could also have an infection of the urinary tract or the bladder itself. Even medical problems that may seem unrelated, like a spinal cord injury, can create difficulty for your cat when he tries to urinate. Treating the cause of his FLUTD will help him be able to go to the bathroom again.
An inability to urinate isn't the only symptom of FLUTD, so if you notice your cat exhibiting any other signs, monitor his litter-box habits. Even if you don't notice him not urinating as much, you can use these other signs as clues. For example, your cat may constantly lick his genitals in an attempt to help himself. He may vomit and exhibit a distended abdomen from the accumulation and retainment of toxins in his bladder. If your cat shows these signs, or appears to be in pain when he visits the litter box, seek help immediately.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.