The Unseen Affliction: Bladder Stones in Cats

The Unseen Affliction: Bladder Stones in Cats

If you’re a cat owner, you’re probably familiar with the occasional litter box problem. But there’s an ailment that often goes unnoticed: bladder stones in cats. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of feline bladder stones, including calcium oxalate and struvite, and discover how to prevent and treat them.

The Basics of Bladder Stones in Cats

Bladder stones, also known as uroliths, are hardened mineral accumulations found in urine. They can form anywhere along the urinary tract, from the kidneys to the urethra. These stones can vary in size, ranging from tiny ones to the size of your cat’s bladder. They can also have different shapes and colors, with some being smooth and others having jagged edges. The problem with bladder stones is that they can damage surrounding tissue, cause inflammation, scar tissue formation, and increase the risk of infection, especially if they have rough edges.

Crystals vs. Stones: Understanding the Difference

You may have heard about urine crystals and wonder how they differ from bladder stones. According to experts, when crystals clump together and grow, becoming visible to the naked eye, they become stones. However, it’s important to note that crystals don’t always lead to stone formation, but they can be a precursor in certain urinary environments.

Recognizing the Signs of Bladder Stones in Cats

The signs of bladder stones in cats can vary depending on their location in the urinary tract. In some cases, cats may show no signs at all. However, bladder stones can cause irritation, infections, and a range of symptoms, including frequent trips to the litter box, frequent urination, blood in the urine, vocalizing during urination, urinary accidents, and decreased urination. In severe cases, a urinary stone can lead to a blocked urethra, preventing the cat from urinating altogether. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary intervention. If you notice your cat struggling to urinate without success, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care promptly.

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Types of Bladder Stones in Cats

The two most common types of bladder stones in cats are struvite stones and calcium oxalate stones. These stones can develop due to various factors, including a cat’s diet and bladder infections. Radiographs and a microscopic examination of urine sediment can provide clues about the type of stone, but definitive identification requires collection and analysis.

Calcium Oxalate Stones

Calcium oxalate stones are the most prevalent urinary stone in cats. They typically affect middle-aged to older cats and are more common in certain breeds, such as Ragdolls, British shorthairs, exotic shorthairs, Himalayans, Persians, and Scottish folds. These stones often occur in overly acidic urine or in cats with elevated blood and urine calcium levels due to idiopathic hypercalcemia or chronic kidney disease. Treatment involves surgical removal of the stones, along with addressing any underlying infections or conditions. Feeding your cat a therapeutic food that reduces urine mineral content and increasing water intake can help prevent recurrence. It’s essential to follow your veterinarian’s recommended meal plan.

Struvite Stones

Struvite stones are typically found in younger, neutered cats. They tend to form in concentrated alkaline urine. While any breed can be affected, domestic shorthairs, exotic shorthairs, Ragdolls, and Himalayans are more susceptible. Cats that consume high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, chloride, and fiber are also at a higher risk. Struvite stones can often be dissolved with a special therapeutic food, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet. These foods come in various flavors and forms, and there are even therapeutic treats available. Studies have shown that these stones can be significantly reduced within weeks, and a continued therapeutic diet is recommended to prevent their return. Keeping your cat on a pet food formulated for urinary health can help extend the time between urinary issues.

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While bladder stones have a high recurrence rate, they can be effectively treated. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can determine the most suitable treatment or combination of therapies to keep your cat free from stones.

Remember, your furry friend depends on you to look out for their health and well-being. Regular check-ups and a balanced diet play crucial roles in preventing and managing bladder stones in cats. So, keep an eye on your cat’s urinary habits and consult your veterinarian if you suspect any issues. For more information on feline health and care, visit Karen’s Kollars.