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Bladder Stones in Cats

Bladder Stones in Cats

Our Babcock Ranch vets often see cats suffering from uncomfortable symptoms related to bladder stones. In today's post, we look at the types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for bladder stones in cats.

Common Causes of Bladder Stones in Cats

Your cat has been diagnosed with bladder stones. You may be wondering what causes this condition in cats. Bladder stones can form when high levels of certain minerals in your cat's urine combine with other substances in the bladder. Various factors may contribute to the development of bladder stones, such as:

  • 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. 

2 Kinds of Bladder Stones in Cats

Cats can develop various types of bladder stones, but the most prevalent ones 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 and 14 years of age.

Struvite stones

  • Bladder stones made of struvite are frequently found in cats with very alkaline urine, although this is not always due to a urinary tract infection. These stones are often seen in cats who consume a lot of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chloride, and fiber. Additionally, genetics may play a role in a cat's likelihood of developing struvite stones, as Siamese cats seem to be more prone to them.

Signs of Bladder Stones & Bladder Infection in Cats

Symptoms of bladder stones are much the same as the symptoms of a bladder infection in cats, this is partly due 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 veterinary 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 your vet immediately or visit your nearest emergency animal hospital for urgent care. 

Treatment for Bladder Stones in Cats

The treatment options for your cat's bladder stones will vary depending on the type of stones. Struvite stones can often be dissolved with a therapeutic diet and medication. It's important to determine the type of stones before deciding the best course of treatment.

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 Cat Bladder Stones

There are measures you can take to potentially prevent your cat from developing bladder stones, particularly if your cat is a breed that has a higher risk of developing them. Consider trying the following steps:

  • 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.

If your cat is uncomfortable and showing any of the signs listed above, contact our Babcock Ranch vets to schedule an appointment or come in for urgent care anytime.

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