Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by Dr. Melissa Mustillo

Urinary problems are very common in cats. We see cases in one form or another almost weekly. While bladder stones in cats are not the most common form of urinary disease we see, they are something we always need to watch for. It’s hard to believe your cat could be walking around with actual “pebbles” or “rocks” in the bladder, but that’s what it’s like (see above the arrow in the x-ray).

Shawnee is a 6 year old female kitty that came to see us for straining to urinate, spending too much time in the litter box, and blood in her urine. We obtained a urine sample and confirmed the presence of blood, but there was no sign of infection or crystals at that time. We treated Shawnee with medications and a prescription diet for urinary disease, but despite this treatment, she did not get better. She returned and an X-ray revealed numerous bladder stones. It is not unusual for there to be no crystals when stones are present, but different treatment is often required.

Certain types of stones, such as struvite, can dissolve with diet change, but the more common calcium stones do not. As Shawnee was very uncomfortable, we performed surgery to remove the stones.

Bladder stones in cats: Shawnee is recovering from surgeryShawnee did very well for her bladder surgery and in total, 9 stones were removed! We are happy to report that she is feeling much better now. She will need to eat a prescription urinary diet for the rest of her life to prevent the recurrence of her stones, but otherwise there is no permanent damage.

So how did she get the stones?
There are numerous causes for bladder stones in cats, and sometimes we never determine the underlying trigger. Genetics, diet, water intake, environment and stress do seem to play a role. You should discuss your cat’s diet with your veterinarian (as we always do) as part of an annual exam. We believe nutrition is very important, and certain diets may trigger crystal and stone formation. In Shawnee’s case, we did feel that diet was a factor.

If you ever notice your cat straining in the litter box, call your veterinarian for an appointment for an exam as soon as possible, as Shawnee’s owners did. You and your cat will be glad you did!