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What Causes Bladder Stones In Cats?

Our Sonora veterinarians frequently encounter cats experiencing distressing symptoms associated with bladder stones. In this discussion, we explore how the symptoms of a bladder infection in cats can indicate the presence of bladder stones.

What Causes Bladder Stones In Cats

Bladder stones can begin 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 may be caused by a number of factors including:

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

Overweight male cats may face an increased risk of developing bladder stones. 

Types of Bladder Stones Seen In Cats

The 2 most common types of bladder stones seen in cats 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. Cats suffering from chronic kidney disease can also develop these kinds of bladder stones.

These stones are most often seen in cats between 5 and 14 years old.

Struvite Stones

Struvite stones appear in cats with highly alkaline urine. This can be the result of a urinary tract infection but it's 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.

Signs of Bladder Infection In Cats

For cats, symptoms of bladder infections in cats are similar to the symptoms of bladder stones. Keep in mind that signs of bladder infection in female cats can appear differently in male cats. This is 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:

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

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:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Repeated trips to the litter box
  • Yowling or crying while in the litter box
  • Straining to urinate without producing urine
If you notice any of these symptoms associated with a urinary obstruction contact your vet immediately or visit your nearest emergency animals hospital for urgent care. 

Treatment For Cat Bladder Stones

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. 

Preventing Bladder Stones From Occurring In Cats

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

Do you think that your cat might be suffering from bladder stones? Contact Mono Way Veterinary Hospital right away to book an urgent examination for your feline friend.

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Mono Way Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! All of our knowledgeable vets are passionate about helping companion animals in Sonora feel happy and healthy. Contact us to schedule your pet's appointment.

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