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Types of Bladder Stones in Cats

Types of Bladder Stones in Cats

Bladder stones are a fairly common condition that can cause your cat some uncomfortable symptoms. Our Thornton vets discuss what bladder stones are, how they affect your cat and how to manage them. 

Causes of bladder stones

Bladder stones form when the minerals within your cat's urine combine with other substances in the bladder to form clumps. Some of the common causes of bladder stones are:

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

If your cat is overweight and male then they may have a greater risk of developing bladder stones. 

What are the different types of bladder stones?

While there are multiple types of bladder stones seen in cats, the two most common are calcium oxalate and struvite stones.

Calcium oxalate bladder stones

Calcium oxalate stones are most commonly seen in cats that have highly acidic urine. It is also typical to see calcium oxalate stones if the cat is experiencing high urine and blood calcium levels and in cats suffering from chronic kidney disease.

This type of stone is most common in cats between the ages of 5 and 14. 

Struvite bladder stones

Struvite stones frequently affect cats with highly alkaline urine which can occasionally be caused by a urinary tract infection. The cats that develop this type of stone typically consume high levels of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chloride and fiber.

Some breeds of cats are more likely to develop struvite stones which leads to the possibility of some cats being genetically predisposed to struvite stones.

Signs of bladder stones

Symptoms of bladder stones are very similar to the signs and symptoms that you would see with a bladder infection, this is caused by the stones irritating the bladder. If your cat is experiencing symptoms related to bladder stones they may show signs such as:

  • 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

If left untreated it is possible for bladder stones to cause an obstruction which would then be a medical emergency. If your cat is experiencing a urinary obstruction their urethra will have become blocked with a stone and your cat will be 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 any signs of urinary obstruction, such as straining to urinate contact your vet immediately or visit your nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

How to treat bladder stones

The ideal treatment for bladder stones will mostly depend on the type of stone that your cat is suffering from. Luckily some types of stones can easily be dissolved by using a therapeutic diet and medications.

Calcium oxalate stones on the other hand cannot be dissolved and your vet may recommend cystotomy surgery in order to open the bladder and remove the stones. This is a standard surgery with a high success rate and cats tend to have a quick recovery after most surgeries. 

How you can prevent bladder stones

There are ways that you can help to prevent your cat from developing bladders stones. You could try some of the following recommendations, especially if your cat is prone to bladder stones:

  • Switch your cat to wet food to help ensure that they are adequately hydrated. A cat that is well hydrated will continuously flush crystals out of their bladder and prevent a buildup.
  • Do not provide your cat with nutritional supplements, particularly supplements containing calcium, vitamin C or vitamin D, without first speaking with your vet.
  • Your vet could help by recommending any foods that may help to minimize your cat's likelihood of developing the crystals that could lead to bladder stones.
  • Cats require clean fresh water, changing the water daily.
  • Exercising can help prevent the formation of bladder stones
  • 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.

If you are noticing any signs of bladder infection or bladder stones contact our Thornton Vets to book an appointment. If your cat is showing signs of urinary obstruction contact us or your nearest emergency care clinic immediately. 

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