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Bladder Stones in Cats: Causes, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Bladder Stones in Cats: Causes, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Cats can suffer from uncomfortable symptoms when it comes to bladder stones. You might be wondering how these stones develop and are treated. Here, our Lexington vets explain the types, causes, symptoms and treatments for bladder stones in cats. 

What causes bladder stones in cats?

If excessive amounts of certain materials in your cat's urine start to clump together with other substances in the bladder, bladder stones can start to develop. These stones may be caused by numerous factors, including:

  • 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)
  • Breed predisposition
  • Poor diet 
  • Dehydration

It's also believed that overweight male cats can face an increased risk of developing stones. 

Are there different types of bladder stones in cats?

There are a few types of bladder stones found in cats. The 2 most common are calcium oxalate and struvite stones.

Calcium Oxalate Stones

Typically, calcium oxalate stones develop in cats with highly acidic urine. This type of bladder stone is also common in cats with high blood calcium and urine levels, and in cats that suffer from chronic kidney disease. 

Cats between 5 and 14 years of age are more likely to experience these stones.

Struvite stones

Struvite stones are most common in cats with highly alkaline urine, which may be the result of a urinary tract infection. However, this is not always the case. This type of bladder stone is also often seen in cats that consume high amounts of chloride, fiber, magnesium and phosphorus. A genetic factor can also increase a cat's risk of developing struvite stones - Siamese cats appear to be predisposed to developing these. 

What are the signs of bladder stones in cats?

Symptoms of bladder stones are much the same as the symptoms of a bladder infection in cats, this is due in part 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 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. 

How are bladder stones in cats treated?

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. 

Can bladder stones be prevented?

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.

Contact our Lexington Vets to schedule an examination if your cat is showing signs of a bladder infection or bladder stones. If you believe that your cat may have a urinary obstruction contact us right away or take your cat to the nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent emergency care.

Emergency Care

Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for advanced diagnostic appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

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Contact (859) 268-7604