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Types of Bladder Stones in Cats & How They Are Treated

Types of Bladder Stones in Cats & How They Are Treated

Bladder stones can be painful for cats, and today our Egg Harbor Township vets discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition.

What causes bladder stones in cats?

Bladder stones can start to develop when there are excessive amounts of certain minerals in your cat's urine. They clump together with other substances seen in the bladder. Bladder stones could be caused by a handful of factors such as:

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

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

The Different Types of Bladder Stones in Cats

Yes, there are a number of different types of bladder stones seen in cats, the 2 most common are calcium oxalate and struvite stones.

Calcium Oxalate Stones

Cats with highly acidic urine are generally the ones that develop calcium oxalate stones. It is also common to see calcium oxalate stones in cats that have high urine and blood calcium levels, as well as in cats that suffer from chronic kidney disease.

These stones are most often seen in cats that are between 5 and 14 years of age.

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 since Siamese cats appear to be predisposed to developing struvite stones.

The Signs & Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Cats

The symptoms of bladder stones are similar to those that are seen in cats with bladder infections, this is partially due to the irritation caused within the bladder as a result of the stones. If your kitty is suffering from bladder stones they may display one or a combination of these symptoms: 

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

Bladder stones could cause urinary obstructions in cats, these are considered medical emergencies! Urinary obstructions occur when your cat's urethra becomes blocked with a stone and your cat can't pass urine. Signs of urinary obstructions include:

  • Straining to urinate without producing urine
  • Yowling or crying while in the litter box
  • Repeated trips to the litter box
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
If your cat is straining to urinate or you notice them exhibiting any of the symptoms above associated with a urinary obstruction contact your vet immediately or bring your kitty to the nearest emergency animal clinic for urgent care.

Treating Bladder Stones in Cats

The kind of bladder stones your cat has will determine the treatment that is used. Some types of bladder stones, such as struvite stones, can often be dissolved with the help of a therapeutic diet and medications.

Calcium oxalate stones can't dissolve and are usually treated with cystotomy surgery to open the bladder and remove the stones. This surgery has an excellent success rate and most cats recover from the surgery relatively quickly.

How To Prevent Bladder Stones 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:

  • Keep your cat's litter box clean to encourage your cat to urinate when they need to and not wait.
  • Make sure that your cat gets enough exercise.
  • Ensure that your cat always has easy access to fresh clean water.
  • Feed your cat wet food to help keep them adequately hydrated. Good hydration helps continuously flush crystals out of your cat's bladder and prevent a buildup.
  • Ask your vet to recommend a food to help minimize your cat's likelihood of developing crystals that could lead to bladder stones.
  • 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.

Is your cat showing signs of bladder stones or a urinary obstruction? Contact our vets in Egg Harbor Township today to schedule an appointment or visit the animal emergency hospital closest to you for emergency care.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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