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  • Writer's pictureClayton Watkins, DVM

Bladder Stones in Cats: How Are They Treated?

Bladder stones are a common urinary problem in cats that can cause discomfort, pain, and even life-threatening complications. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bladder stones is essential to keep your feline companion healthy and happy. In this article, we will explore what bladder stones are, how they form, and what you can do to prevent and treat this condition in your cat.

cat with bladder stones

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What Are Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones, also known as urinary calculi or uroliths, are mineral-based formations that can develop in the bladder or urinary tract of cats. These stones are composed of different minerals such as struvite, calcium oxalate, or urate, and can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Bladder stones can cause discomfort and health problems in cats, and prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent complications.

Other Kinds of Stones

In addition to struvite, calcium oxalate, and urate stones, cats can also develop other types of bladder stones such as cystine and calcium phosphate stones. These stones are less common than the aforementioned ones and require different diagnostic and treatment approaches.

What Are the Symptoms of Bladder Stones in Cats?

Cats with bladder stones may exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Frequent urination

  • Painful urination

  • Blood in the urine

  • Straining to urinate

  • Urinating outside the litter box

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it is essential to seek veterinary care immediately. In some cases, bladder stones can cause urinary blockages, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

How Did My Cat Get Bladder Stones?

The exact causes of bladder stone formation in cats are not entirely understood, but several factors can contribute to their development. These factors include:

  • Diet: Feeding a diet that is high in certain minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium can increase the risk of bladder stone formation.

  • Genetics: Some breeds of cats are more prone to bladder stones than others, such as Persian and Siamese cats.

  • Age and Gender: Older male cats are more likely to develop bladder stones than females or younger cats.

  • Urinary Tract Infections: Infections in the urinary tract can increase the risk of bladder stone formation.

  • Other Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and kidney disease can increase the risk of bladder stone formation in cats.

How To Prevent Bladder Stones

Preventing bladder stones in cats involves several strategies such as:

Providing Plenty of Fresh Water

Ensuring that your cat has access to clean, fresh water at all times can help prevent the concentration of minerals in the urine.

Feeding a Balanced Diet

Feeding your cat a balanced diet that is low in certain minerals can help prevent bladder stone formation. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your cat's specific needs.

Monitoring Your Cat's Urine

Regularly monitoring your cat's urine habits can help detect any changes that may indicate the presence of bladder stones.

Treating Urinary Tract Infections Promptly

Prompt treatment of urinary tract infections can help prevent complications such as bladder stone formation.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect any underlying health issues that may increase the risk of bladder stone formation. Your veterinarian can recommend preventive measures and make dietary and lifestyle recommendations to keep your cat's urinary tract healthy.

How Quickly Can Bladder Stones Form?

The time it takes for bladder stones to form in cats can vary depending on several factors such as diet, genetics, and underlying health conditions. In some cases, bladder stones can form within weeks or months, while in other cases, it may take years for them to develop.

How Bladder Stones Are Diagnosed in Cats

To diagnose bladder stones in cats, your local veterinarian will perform a physical exam and may recommend diagnostic tests such as:

  • Urinalysis: A urine sample is analyzed for the presence of crystals or other abnormal components.

  • X-rays: Radiographs can detect the presence and size of bladder stones in cats.

  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound is more sensitive in detecting small bladder stones than are radiographs. Radiolucent (not visible on x-rays) stones are easily detected with ultrasound.

  • Cystoscopy: Evaluation of the lower urinary tract with and endoscope is the "gold standard" for bladder stones and other disorders of the urinary tract.

Once your local vet has confirmed that bladder stones are present, schedule an appointment with us to get the best possible treatment for your pet!

What Treatment Options Are There For Bladder Stones in Cats?

Treatment for bladder stones in cats may vary depending on the type, size, and location of the stones, as well as the severity of the symptoms and the overall health of the cat. Here are some of the treatment options commonly used:

Treatment 1: Laser Lithotripsy

Today, non-invasive removal of bladder stones is the standard of care. Laser lithotripsy is the use of a laser to break bladder and urethral stones into small fragments that can be removed non-invasively. This option is much less invasive than surgery, thus resulting in fewer complications, less pain and better outcomes than open surgery. Schedule an appointment with us today to treat your furry friend!

Treatment 2: Percutaneous Cystolithotomy (PCCL)

Percutaneous Cystolithotomy involves accessing the bladder through a small incision made over the abdomen and using specialized instruments and a camera to visualize the bladder internally. PCCL allows for direct visualization and removal of bladder stones in cats, providing an effective and less invasive alternative to traditional open surgery, leading to quicker recovery and reduced postoperative complications.

Treatment 3: Diet Modification

Prescription diets that are formulated to dissolve or prevent certain types of bladder stones may be recommended for cats with bladder stones. These diets are designed to lower the concentration of minerals that form the stones and alter the cat's urine pH.

Treatment 4: Medications

Some medications may be prescribed to help dissolve or prevent certain types of bladder stones in cats. These medications work by altering the pH or mineral concentration of the cat's urine, making it less favorable for stone formation.

Treatment 5: Fluid Therapy

Fluid therapy may be necessary to treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalances associated with bladder stones. Intravenous fluids or subcutaneous fluids may be administered to maintain the cat's hydration and promote urine production.

Treatment 6: Antibiotics

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections that may accompany bladder stones in cats. These medications can help reduce inflammation and prevent the spread of infection.

It is important to note that prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications associated with bladder stones in cats. If you suspect that your cat may have bladder stones, seek veterinary care immediately to determine the best course of treatment for your feline companion.

VetMed Treats Bladder Stones in Cats

Bladder stones are a preventable and treatable condition in cats that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent complications. By providing your cat with a balanced diet, plenty of fresh water, and regular veterinary check-ups, you can help maintain your cat's urinary tract health and reduce the risk of bladder stone formation. If you notice any signs of bladder stones in your cat, schedule an appointment with us today!


Questions You've Asked Us About Bladder Stones in Cats

Still have questions? Contact us here - we promise we'll answer them.

How do veterinarians define bladder stones?

Bladder stones, also known as uroliths, are hard mineral deposits that form in the bladder of cats, causing irritation, inflammation, and obstruction of the urinary tract.

Why do cats develop bladder stones?

What symptoms and complications can bladder stones cause?

How will we treat your cat’s bladder stones?

What can you do to prevent your cat from getting bladder stones?


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