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Bladder Stones in Cats & Their Symptoms

Bladder Stones in Cats & Their Symptoms

It's typically rare for cats to develop a bladder infection, but it's relatively common for cats to suffer from bladder stone symptoms. In this post, our Turlock vets talk about bladder stones in cats, including the symptoms and treatments available.

Causes of Cat Bladder Stones

Has your cat been diagnosed with bladder stones? If so, you may be wondering, what causes bladder stones in cats? Bladder stones can start to form when excessive amounts of certain minerals in your cat's urine begin to clump together with other substances found in the bladder. Bladder stones could be caused by a number of factors including:

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

It is believed that overweight male cats are at a higher risk of developing bladder stones.

2 Common Types of Bladder Stones Seen in Cats

There are a handful of 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 in cats that are suffering from chronic kidney disease. These stones are most often seen in cats that are between 5 and 14 years old.

Struvite stones

  • Struvite stones are more common in cats that have highly alkaline urine, which can be the result of a urinary tract infection, but this isn't always the case. These bladder stones are often seen in cats that 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.

Signs & Symptoms of Bladder Stones & Infections in Cats

Symptoms of bladder stones are very similar to the symptoms of a bladder infection in cats, this is due in part to the irritation the stones cause within the bladder. If your cat is suffering from bladder stones you may notice one or more of these symptoms:

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

Bladder stones in cats can cause a urinary obstruction 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:

  • Repeated trips to the litter box
  • Straining to urinate without producing urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yowling or crying while in the litter box 
  • Vomiting

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 animal hospital for urgent care.

Treating Bladder Stones in Cats

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.

How To Prevent 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:

  • Keep your cat's litter box clean to encourage your cat to urinate when they need to and not wait.
  • 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.
  • Ensure that your cat always has easy access to fresh clean water.
  • Make sure your cat is provided with enough exercise.
  • Ask your vet to recommend a food to help minimize your cat's likelihood of developing crystals that could lead to bladder stones.
  • Talk to your vet before giving your cat any nutritional supplements, especially supplements with calcium, vitamin C, or vitamin D.

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 Turlock vets immediately if your cat is showing any of the signs or symptoms detailed above or bring them to the closest emergency animal hospital for urgent care.

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Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Turlock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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