Cat Bladder Stones

CAT FANCY and CatChannel have compiled common cat health concerns, their description and cats? medical treatment options.

By By Arnold Plotnick, DVM |

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Sign/Symptom: Cystic calculi (bladder stones)

Cystic calculi are stones that form in the urinary bladder. They are sometimes referred to as uroliths, however, the term urolith refers to a stone that has formed anywhere in the urinary tract. Bladder stones form when the conditions in the bladder are favorable, i.e. when the urine becomes oversaturated with certain minerals, or when the pH of the urine changes in a particular way to favor the formation of a stone.

Signs: Typical signs of a cat with bladder stones include:
• Straining to urinate
• Increased frequency of urination
• Urinating in inappropriate places
• Blood in the urine
Causes: There are several possible causes of bladder stones
• Genetic and/or hereditary factors
• Conditions that might result in high levels of calcium in the bloodstream (such as hyperparathyroidism in cats)
• Changes in diet or water consumption
• Urinary tract infections (a common predisposing factor for bladder stones in dogs, but much less so in cats)
• Idiopathic (no known cause)

How is it diagnosed?
• Urinalysis – to rule out other causes of the clinical signs, such as bacterial urinary tract infections, and to evaluate kidney function, urine concentration, and urine pH.
• X-rays – the most common stones in cats (struvite and oxalate) are radiodense (they can be seen on x-rays). Some stones are radiolucent (not visible on x-rays), however these are much less common in cats
• Urine culture
• Complete blood count
• Serum chemistry panel
• Ultrasound of the abdomen
• Dye studies of the bladder (to detect stones that might not be visible on regular x-rays)
Immediate Care:
Take cats with signs of bladder stones to the veterinarian promptly because of the discomfort associated with urinary tract disorders. This is especially true for male cats, because a small bladder stone can get lodged in the cat’s urethra and obstruct the flow of urine. This is a life-threatening situation.
Long-Term Care:
Once a veterinarian removes bladder stones, long-term care tends to focus on dietary manipulation to prevent the formation of new stones. Many new prescription diets are designed to prevent the formation of the two most common stones – struvite and calcium oxalate. Examples of these diets include Royal Canin S/O, Purina UR, and Hill’s C/D Multicare. Cats with a history of bladder stones should be encouraged to drink water, and should also be encouraged to eat canned food rather than dry food.
Possible Medications/Treatments:
• Medical dissolution – struvite stones could dissolve by feeding a specially formulated diet. The stones might take several months to completely dissolve
• Surgical removal of the stones
• Antibiotics, if urinary tract infection is suspected or proven
Prognosis: The prognosis is excellent.
Possible side effects:

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