Stones of the urinary tract begin as microscopic crystals that aggregate to form stones of variable size and shape anywhere within the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, and urethra, although stones of the urinary bladder are most common.
There are several factors that can contribute to stones of the bladder and urinary tract. They include changes in diet or water intake, underlying metabolic disease, congenital problems, and bacterial infections of the urinary tract. Cats that get uroliths (stones) once are at risk for a recurrence.
Not all cats with bladder stones show signs of having this problem. In fact, in some cases the discovery of bladder stones happens only when your cat is in for his annual physical exam.
If your feline friend is suffering from bladder stones, he may exhibit the following signs:
- Straining or signs of pain while urinating
- Staying in the urinating position for a long time
- Urinating only small amounts
- Urinating more frequently
- Blood in the urine
- Loss of appetite
- Accidents outside of the litter pan
If your pet shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian will review your cat’s history and conduct a physical exam, including palpating your cat’s urethra and urinary bladder. If you see any stones present after your cat urinates, call your veterinarian regarding the proper way to collect and store them; they may be helpful in determining the best way to treat your four-legged friend.
Your veterinarian might also recommend the following tests:
- A urinalysis and urine culture to rule out urinary tract infections and to evaluate the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
- A complete blood count (CBC) to rule out blood-related conditions
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your pet isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
- A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too much thyroid hormone
- X-rays of the urinary tract to identify if stones or other abnormalities are present
- Abdominal ultrasound to evaluate the urinary tract and identify if stones or other abnormalities are present
- A stone analysis of any passed bladder stones to determine the chemical makeup of the stone
If your cat has been diagnosed with bladder or other urinary tract stones, the ultimate goal will be to dissolve the stones or remove them and, most important of all, prevent them from recurring. Your veterinarian will determine the right approach for your pet.
Some options that may be suggested are:
- Fluid Therapy to help flush the kidneys and urinary tract, which can facilitate the passing of small stones and crystals
- Medication to treat the underlying cause, such as an antibiotic, if there is evidence of a bacterial infection
- Pain medication, if needed
- Surgery to remove the stones
- Prescription diets to help dissolve some types of bladder stones and prevent them from recurring
While you may not be able to prevent your pet from getting bladder stones the first time, you can help prevent their recurrence with the right diet and care. It is very important to follow all instructions provided by your veterinarian, including giving all medications and coming in for follow-up visits and tests.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Feline Bladder Stones - Kidney Stones in your Cat - pets
Cats are notoriously plagued by urinary problems. Kidney disease, chronic bladder inflammation, and urethral obstruction are common feline medical conditions, and many owners want to know how they can maintain their cat’s urinary health and keep these problems at bay. Whether your cat has a history of urinary trouble, or you hope to prevent disease development, use these five tips:
#1: Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake
A higher urine water content dilutes the toxins, minerals, and urinary irritants that can lead to problems. Concentrated urine is more likely to form crystals and urinary stones, and irritants can contribute to chronic bladder inflammation. Increasing your cat’s water intake is one of the most important steps toward keeping her urinary tract healthy. More water also means your cat will stay hydrated and urinate more frequently, which will flush out toxins and maintain kidney function.
Try incorporating these ideas into your cat’s daily routine to increase her water intake:
- Fresh water — Cats love fresh water, and your cat will likely drink more if you clean and fill her water bowl daily.
- Canned food — Canned diets contain more water than dry varieties, and feeding wet food is an easy way to incorporate more water into your cat’s daily diet.
- Flavored water — Adding tuna juice or sodium-free chicken broth can tempt your cat to spend more time at her water bowl.
- Fountains — Most cats are drawn to running water, and a battery-operated fountain may be more interesting than your cat’s regular water bowl.
#2: Reevaluate Your Cat’s Diet
If your cat has had previous urinary health problems, she may benefit from one of the many available urinary diets, which contain specific amounts of minerals, protein, and bladder protectants to help maintain a healthy urinary tract. Urinary diets have restricted amounts of minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, which can contribute to urinary crystal and stone formation. They are also formulated to make your cat’s urine slightly acidic, which discourages crystal formation. Some diets contain glycosaminoglycans, which naturally protects the bladder lining.
Before changing your cat’s diet, consult your family veterinarian. Many urinary diets are available, and she can help you choose one that is appropriate for your cat’s needs. She can also counsel you about gradually changing your cat to a new food so she will accept it. Cats are creatures of habit and may not do well with a sudden switch.
#3: Reduce Your Cat’s Environmental Stress
Cats are sensitive to environmental stressors, which have been linked to inappropriate elimination and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), a condition that causes chronic bladder inflammation. Affected cats suffer from bladder pain and are at risk of developing a life-threatening urethral obstruction. Environmental changes, such as a new roommate or baby, a new pet, or a different litter brand, can trigger internalized stress that manifests as urinary problems.
Eliminating simple stressors and providing an escape when your cat is fearful or anxious can keep her urinary tract healthy, so try these stress-reducing tactics:
- Scoop litter daily — Some cats hate a soiled litter box and refuse to use dirty litter, so keep your cat’s box as clean as possible.
- Don’t switch litter brands — Cats can be picky about their litter, and a sudden brand change may prompt her to use your floor instead of the new, flower-scented brand in her box.
- Provide a refuge — Your cat will appreciate her own space, particularly if your home contains rowdy children or other pets, or she is timid and enjoys time alone. Choose a quiet, low-traffic area of your home and include all your cat’s necessities—food and water bowls, litter, a scratching post, a perch, and toys—so she can get away and de-stress when she feels the need.
- Add feline pheromones — Feliway® products contain feline pheromones that reduce stress and encourage calmness in cats. Add diffusers to home areas where your cat spends most of her time, and spray her blankets and bedding. Houseguests can also be sprayed to make new introductions less stressful.
#4: Provide Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat
An indoor life is safest for your cat, but a bored cat more likely will develop stress-related urinary conditions. Cats are natural predators, and your cat will enjoy toys and interactions that bring out her inner lioness, such as:
- Perches — Cats love to safely watch household activity from above, and an elevated perch, such as a cat tree, can provide her hours of entertainment. She may also love a window perch that will let her observe the birds and squirrels in your backyard.
- Videos — Videos of mice scurrying or birds flying can keep a bored cat entertained while you are at work, or busy with household chores.
- Food puzzles — In the wild, cats hunt for their food. Making your cat work for her dinner will appeal to her primitive side, and the added activity will help her stay fit. You can purchase food puzzles for hiding food, or you can simply hide pieces of food around your home and let your cat’s nose lead her on a hunt.
- Moving toys — Your cat may love to chase battery-operated toy mice or insects zooming around the floor. A feather on a string can keep her moving and entertained, as well.
#5: Schedule Regular Veterinary Appointments for Your Cat
Cats need regular veterinary care, and your family veterinarian can detect signs of underlying urinary conditions during your cat’s annual wellness visit. Cats over 8 years of age should see a veterinarian more frequently to maintain good health. A urinalysis can be performed at each visit to analyze your cat’s urine for signs of inflammation, infection, and kidney dysfunction. Blood work will evaluate your cat’s kidney function, and can detect kidney failure, a leading cause of death in cats, in its early stages when treatment can be helpful.
If you have questions about your cat’s urinary health, speak with your family veterinarian. If your cat has been diagnosed with a urinary condition that requires specialty care, contact us to speak with our internal medicine department.
Signs of Bladder Stones
Early symptoms of bladder stones are usually bleeding and visible discomfort. If the stones lodge in the urethra then the bladder can become blocked, resulting in a build up of urine which puts pressure on the kidneys, and if left untreated can result in a ruptured bladder.
- blood in urine
- straining to urinate with little or no urine being produced
- frequent trips to the kitty litter
- urinating outside of the kitty litter
- behavioural changes ie more vocal, hiding
- uncomfortable or swollen abdomen
- increased thirst
- decreased appetite or inappetance
- licking at genitals
- urinating outside of the kitty litter
Kidney stones don't typically present symptoms until they grow large, irritating the kidney ducts and potentially causing a serious infection or obstruction. Male cats and domestic Shorthairs are more likely to develop kidney stones than females and other breeds of cats.
The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood, removing wastes such as mineral salts, urea, and toxins, and excreting these filtered wastes with water in the form of urine. Some of these wastes that are normally excreted by the kidneys aren't completely soluble and remain in the kidneys, forming crystals or renal calculi. Over time, these crystals can form stones, known as nephroliths, and cause a condition known as nephrolithiasis.
Kidney Stones Average Cost
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