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Bladder Stones in Cats

Our Mechanicsburg vets often see cats suffering from uncomfortable symptoms related to bladder stones, but how do they develop and how can they be treated? Today we discuss bladder stones and how the symptoms of a bladder infection in cats can indicate that your kitty has bladder stones.

What causes bladder stones in cats?

When too many of the minerals in your cat's urine start to clump together with other substances found in the bladder, bladder stones can start to form. There are numerous potential causes of bladder stones, including:

  • Poor diet
  • Dehydration
  • Bladder or urinary tract infection
  • Bladder inflammation caused by crystals
  • Extremes in urine pH levels (too alkaline or acidic)
  • Breed predisposition
  • Congenital liver shunt
  • Medications or supplements

It is believed that overweight male cats may face an increased risk of developing stones. 

Types of Bladder Stones Seen in Cats

Yes, there are a number of different types of bladder stones seen in cats, the 2 most common are calcium oxalate and struvite stones.

Calcium Oxalate Stones

Cats with urine that is extremely acidic are more likely to develop calcium oxalate stones. In addition, cats with high calcium levels in their blood and urine as well as cats with chronic kidney disease frequently develop calcium oxalate stones.

These stones are most often seen in cats that are between  5 and 14 years of age.

Struvite stones

Struvite stones are most frequently found in cats with extremely alkaline urine, which can sometimes be the result of urethritis but is not always the case. Cats who consume large amounts of fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium chloride are frequently found to have these bladder stones.

A genetic factor may also influence a cat's risk of developing struvite stones since Siamese cats appear to be predisposed to developing struvite stones.

Signs That Your Cat May Have Bladder Stones

Symptoms of bladder stones are much the same as the signs of a bladder infection in male and female cats. This is due, in part, to the irritation caused within the bladder due to the stones. If your cat is suffering from bladder stones you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination in small amounts of urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Straining to urinate without producing urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of energy

Bladder stones can lead to a urinary obstruction in cats which is considered a medical emergency!  A urinary obstruction occurs when your cat's urethra becomes blocked with a stone and your cat is unable to pass urine. Signs of urinary obstruction include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Repeated trips to the litter box
  • Yowling or crying while in the litter box
  • Straining to urinate without producing urine
If you notice your cat straining to urinate or any of the other symptoms associated with urinary obstruction, contact us immediately for urgent care. 

Treatment for Cat Bladder Stones

The best treatment for your cat's bladder stones will be determined by the type of stones. Some bladder stones, such as struvite stones, can often be dissolved with a therapeutic diet and medications.

Calcium oxalate stones cannot be dissolved and are typically treated with cystotomy surgery to open the bladder and remove the stones. This surgery has an excellent success rate and most cats recover from surgery very quickly. 

Preventing Bladder Stones From Occurring in Cats

It may be possible to prevent your cat from developing bladder stones. If your cat is a breed that faces a higher risk of developing bladder stones you may want to try the following:

  • Feed your cat wet food to help ensure that they are adequately hydrated. Good hydration can help to continually flush crystals out of your cat's bladder and prevent a buildup.
  • Speak to your vet before giving your cat any nutritional supplements, particularly supplements containing calcium, vitamin C, or vitamin D.
  • Ask your vet to recommend a food to help minimize your cat's likelihood of developing crystals that could lead to bladder stones.
  • Ensure that your cat always has easy access to fresh clean water.
  • Make sure that your cat gets plenty of exercise.
  • Keep your cat's litter box clean to encourage your cat to urinate when they need to and not wait.

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.

Do you think that your cat might have bladder stones? Contact Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center right away to book an urgent examination for your feline friend.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center you never need an appointment to access our full complement of emergency services. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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