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Bladder Stones in Cats

While bladder infections in cats are relatively rare, our Norristown 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.

What causes bladder stones in cats?

Your cat has been diagnosed with bladder stones, so you're probably wondering what causes bladder stones in cats. When excessive amounts of certain minerals in your cat's urine clump together with other substances found in the bladder, bladder stones can form. Bladder stones can be caused by a variety of conditions, 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. 

2 Kinds of Bladder Stones in Cats

There are several different types of bladder stones seen in cats, but the 2 most common types 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 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

  • Struvite stones are most common in cats who have highly alkaline urine, which can be caused by a urinary tract infection but is not always the case. These bladder stones are common in cats who eat a lot of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chloride, and fiber. Because Siamese cats appear to be predisposed to developing struvite stones, a genetic factor may also influence a cat's risk of developing struvite stones.

Symptoms of Bladder Stones & Bladder Infection in Cats

In female and male cats, the symptoms of bladder stones are similar to those of a bladder infection, which is due in part to the irritation caused within the bladder by the stones. If your cat has bladder stones, you might 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 a urinary obstruction contact your vet immediately or visit your nearest emergency animals hospital for urgent care. 

Treatment for Bladder Stones in Cats

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 Cat Bladder Stones

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.

If your cat is showing any of the symptoms listed above, veterinary care is essential. Contact Trooper Veterinary Hospital right away to book an examination for your cat.

New Patients Welcome

Trooper Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients in Norristown. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your animal companions. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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