Urinary stones in cats: symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention


Oxalate crystals and phospho-ammoniaco-magnesian stones are the two forms of urinary stones (or urinary lithiasis) 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 on the means to prevent them.

Urinary lithiasis in cats: symptoms

The urolithiasis is defined by the formation of crystalline accretions, a kind of small pebbles called urinary stones because they are found 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 frequent urination : the cat makes many comings and goings between its basket and its litter or asks to go out very frequently. He can even urinate in different places in the house, which is generally not his habit.
  • Of difficulty urinating : the animal feels the urge to go to its litter box but is unable to 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.
  • A few traces of blood may appear in the urine of the animal.
  • Retention of urine, meaning that the cat comes out or settles on in its toilet house, but fails 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 may even die. The owner must react as quickly as possible if his animal no longer urinates but also if he no longer feeds, if he vomits and / or seems totally downcast.

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

Oxalate crystals

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

Phospho-ammoniaco-magnesian calculations or struvite calculations

These struvite stones are excessively common when urine is too basic. Crystals are found in small felines that drink little, and consequently which 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. Female 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 is suffering in order to ensure that it does not present an underlying pathology.

A urinary catheterization is usually performed – under anesthesia – during the consultation, then over the following days, the bladder is emptied through 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 placed 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 has a urinary tract infection,
  • Of a spasmolytic if he experiences painful spasms,
  • Of a urinary acidifier if the vet has identified struvite stones.
  • Give him a diet sufficiently provided with minerals, but not too much because this promotes urolithiasis.
  • Add a few moist foods to the daily ration if the cat tends to not drink a lot.
  • Allow the little feline to drink very regularly as soon as he feels like it by placing a bowl of water at his disposal. This water must be replaced very often to be always clean and fresh. Let’s not forget that insufficient hydration is a common cause of urinary stones.

In some cases, we must resort to surgical solutions.

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

As for theureterostomy, it is a more invasive surgical procedure. It is decided only in case of urinary lithiasis recurrent causing urethral obstruction. This involves making part of the urethra open to the skin and in the male cat involves thepenis amputation.

How to prevent urinary stones in cats and cats?

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

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

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