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Bladder stones in cats

Bladder stones in cats

At Dana Park Veterinary Hospital, we often see cats with uncomfortable symptoms related to bladder stones. Today we learn more about how bladder stones in cats develop, along with the types, causes, symptoms and treatments.

What causes bladder stones in cats?

Bladder stones can start forming when excessive amounts of certain minerals in your cat's urine begin to clump together with other substances in the bladder. Bladder stones could be caused by a number of factors including:

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

It is believed that overweight male cats could be at an increased risk of developing stones.

Types of bladder stones in cats

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

Calcium oxalate stones typically develop in cats with urine that is highly acidic. It is also common to see calcium oxalate stones in cats with high urine and blood calcium levels and in cats suffering from chronic kidney disease.

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

Struvite stones

Struvite stones are most common in cats with highly alkaline urine which can be the result of a urinary tract infection but this is not always the case. These bladder stones are often seen in cats who consume high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chloride and fiber.

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.

What are the signs of bladder stones in cats?

Symptoms of bladder stones are much the same as the symptoms of a bladder infection in 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

How are bladder stones in cats treated?

The best treatment for your cat's bladder stones will depend upon the type of stones that your cat has. Some types of bladder stones, including struvite stones, can often be dissolved with the help of 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.

Can bladder stones be prevented?

It could 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 aid in continually flushing crystals out of your cat's bladder and preventing 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.
  • Clean your cat's litter box regularly 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.

Contact our Redding Vets to schedule an examination if your cat is showing signs of a bladder infection or bladder stones.

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