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Bladder Stones in Cats

Bladder Stones in Cats

Bladder stones in cats can present with very similar symptoms to that of a bladder infection. For this reason, it is good to know the signs of both. Today, our Killen vets talk about how bladder stones form in cats, what signs you should watch out for and ways that you can help protect your furry friend against this condition.

What causes bladder stones in cats?

When the minerals in your cat's urine begin to combine and clump together they form something that is known as a bladder stone. Bladder stones may be caused by a number of factors 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

If your cat is a male and on the heavier side, they may have an increased risk of developing bladder stones.

Types of Bladder Stones in Cats

Did you know that there is actually more than one type of bladder stone in cats? The two main types of bladder stones in cats are:

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.

Cats between the ages of 5 and 14 are most commonly affected by this condition.

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. One example is that Siamese cats seem to be more likely to develop struvite stones.

Symptoms of Bladder Infections in Cats

Symptoms of bladder stones are much the same as the signs of a bladder infection in cats, this is due in part to the irritation caused within the bladder due to the stones. The signs of bladder infection in female cats and male cats are similar and may include:

  • 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 your cat is showing signs of obstruction you need to contact your vet immediately or visit your nearest emergency animal hospital for urgent care. 

Treatment for Bladder Stones in Cats

The type of bladder stones that your cat is suffering from will determine the type of treatment that is best suited for them. 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. 

Preventing Bladder Stones From Occurring in Cats

There are a few known methods that are used to help reduce the risk of bladder stone formation. These can include:

  • 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.

Have you noticed the symptoms of bladder infection in your cat? Contact Center Star Veterinary Services to schedule an exam for your feline friend.

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