Bladder Stones in Cats
Bladder stones are rock-like deposits of minerals, crystals
and organic material that are found in a cat’s bladder. They can remain small
in size or grow to be several millimeters in diameter, and may rub against the
bladder walls, causing inflammation. Bladder stones can also lead to blockage
of the urethra and can interfere with a cat’s ability to urinate. There are
several types of minerals that form stones under different conditions in a
cat’s urinary tract. The two most common are struvite and calcium oxalate
How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Bladder Stones
Common signs that may indicate bladder stones are:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Painful urination
- Straining to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Genital licking
- Chronic urinary tract infections
- Urinary tract obstruction (especially in males)
- Urine spraying
- Passing urine in unusual places
Please note, sometimes cats with bladder stones exhibit no clinical
What Causes Cats to Have Bladder Stones?
Different conditions contribute to the formation of
different types of stones. Some of these may include:
- Nutritionally imbalanced diet
- Decreased water intake
- Urinary tract infection
- High concentration of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate minerals in the
- Urine pH favorable to the formation of various crystals
- Certain drugs and dietary supplements
- Congenital liver shunt
- Breed predisposition
At What Age Do Cats Develop Bladder Stones?
Cats can develop bladder stones at any age. Some types of
stones are more likely to form at different lifestages. The risk of developing
calcium oxalate stones, for example, increases as your cat ages.
Which Cats Have a Greater Risk of Getting Bladder Stones?
It is believed that neutered male Burmese, Persian and
Himalayan cats may be genetically predisposed to developing calcium oxalate
How Are Bladder Stones in Cats Diagnosed?
If the stones are big enough, your vet may be able to feel them
through your cat’s abdominal wall. However, radiographs, ultrasound, urinalysis
and urine culture are most often used to diagnose bladder stones and determine
the underlying cause.
How Can Bladder Stones Be Treated?
Your veterinarian will want to figure out what kinds of stones
have formed in your cat’s bladder in order to determine the proper treatment.
Surgical removal, which is also a form of treatment, is sometimes necessary in
order for a laboratory analysis to be performed. Your vet may decide on one or
more of the following treatments:
- Vet-prescribed diet (to dissolve stones and modify pH)
- Increased water consumption
- Flushing procedure (filling bladder and inducing urination)
- Surgical removal of stones
- Sometimes cats-more likely females, whose urinary tracts are not as narrow
as the male’s-will naturally pass the smaller stones when urinating.
- Lithotripsy (breakdown of stones with shock waves)
How Can I Prevent Bladder Stones from Forming Again?
Once your cat has been diagnosed and treated for bladder
stones, you’ll know what kind of stones he suffered from. Always have fresh
water available for him and ask your vet if you should continue feeding your
cat a special diet. Exercise is also important for keeping your cat’s system
healthy. Your vet may recommend a urinalysis and urine culture several times
throughout the year to test for crystals and/or infection.