Urinary Stones in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and Prevention

symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention

Oxalate crystals and phospho-ammoniac-magnesium stones are the two forms of urinary stones (or urolithiasis) most frequently encountered in cats. Let’s take stock of the symptoms that should alert, the causes of urinary stones, the possible treatments but also the means of preventing them.

Urolithiasis in cats: symptoms

There urolithiasis is defined by the formation of crystalline accretions, a kind of small pebbles called urinary stones because they are either in the bladder, or in the renal cavities or in the ureters. They are the result of the dissolution of different crystals within the urine.

Urinary stones are the cause of easily identifiable manifestations, namely:

    • Of the frequent urination : the cat goes back and forth a lot between its basket and its litter box or asks to go out very frequently. He can even urinate in different places in the house, which is generally not his habit.
    • Of the difficulty urinating : the animal feels the urge to go to its litter box but cannot urinate.
    • A burning sensation and/or pains more or less intense with each urination, so that the animal emits plaintive meows each time it urinates.
    • Some traces of blood may appear in the animal’s urine.
    • A retention of urine, that is to say that the cat goes out or settles in its toilet house, but does not manage to pee.

A urine retention more than 24 hours is very serious and requires a emergency consultation because the little cat risks kidney failure, even a coma and can even die. The master must react as quickly as possible if his animal no longer urinates, but also if he no longer eats, if he vomits and/or seems totally dejected.

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Anyway, even if there is no urine retention, when urinary stones are suspected, it is important not to postpone the consultation. If left untreated, the animal may suffer from complications such as inflammation of the bladder or infection of the urinary tract, chronic cystitis.

The two common forms of urinary stones in cats

There are several forms of urinary stones in cats, the two most frequently encountered are the following.

oxalate crystals

Urolithiasis with formation of oxalate crystals may be due to urine laden with calcium or other minerals, or to too much urine acid. They can even sometimes come from a health problem having a genetic origin. Male cats are more often affected by this form of urinary stones than female cats.

Phospho-ammoniac-magnesium stones or struvite stones

These struvite stones are exceedingly common when urinating too much basic. The crystals are found in small felines that drink little and consequently urinate little, so that their urine is particularly concentrated in ions (phosphate, ammonium, magnesium). A diet high in poor quality foods can also cause struvite crystals to form, especially if it is too high in phosphorus and magnesium. Cats are more frequently affected than male cats by this form of urolithiasis.

How to treat urinary stones in cats?

On palpation of the cat, the veterinarian perceives a distended bladder, that is to say a more or less dilated bladder because the animal can no longer urinate. The professional must in any case identify the cause of the urinary problems from which the animal suffers in order to make sure that it does not present an underlying pathology.

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A urinary catheterization is generally carried out – under anesthesia – during the consultation, then during the following days, the bladder is emptied thanks to a probe left in place. Rinsing the bladder removes any traces of sand and small diameter stones. Finally, to limit the risks of acute renal failure due to the obstruction, the cat is put under infusion from a few hours to a few days, which is essential to restart the production of urine.

A treatment is finally prescribed to the cat, on a case-by-case basis. It could be :

    • of a antibiotic if he suffers from a urinary tract infection,
    • of a spasmolytic if he feels painful spasms,
    • of a urinary acidifier if the veterinarian has identified struvite stones.
    • Give him a diet sufficiently rich in minerals, but not too much because this promotes urinary lithiasis.
    • Add some wet food to the daily ration if the cat tends not to drink a lot.
    • Allow the little feline to drink very regularly as soon as he wants to by putting a bowl of water at his disposal. This water must be replaced very often to always be clean and fresh. Let’s not forget that insufficient hydration is a common cause of urinary stones.

In some cases, it is necessary to resort to surgical solutions.

When the veterinarian identifies calcium oxalate crystals, he may decide to eliminate them from the bladder by performing a cystotomy. This surgical intervention is sometimes essential because these crystals cannot be removed by simple dissolution.

As for the ureterostomy, it is a more invasive surgical procedure. It is decided only in case of urinary lithiasis repeat offenders causing urethral obstruction. This consists of bringing part of the urethra to the skin and involves in the male cat the penile amputation.

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How to prevent urinary stones in cats and cats?

Regarding the prevention of urinary stones in cats, it is possible in many cases. It’s necessary :

Finally, to prevent urinary lithiasis in cats, it is important to get into the habit of playing with him on a daily basis because this allows him to remain active. Very sedentary cats, who spend a lot of time on the couch, are at greater risk of urinary stones.

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