One of the most common complaints we receive at River Road Veterinary Clinic is about inappropriate feline urination. Many pet owners who do not have personal experience with this issue assume that most inappropriate feline urinating is done by unneutered males who are “spraying” or “marking” their territory inside the house. Although this does occur, there are several other causes for inappropriate urination. One cause of this difficult behavior is bladder stones. Bladder stones are also called uroliths, and are essentially minerals that have collected together inside the bladder. Bladder stones can combine to form a single, large, rock-like structure or can appear like grains of sand or any size in between.
In addition to inappropriate urinations, owners may also observe straining, frequent trips to the litter box, vocalization while urinating or blood in the urine. In some cases stones may pass from the bladder into the urethra and cause a partial or complete obstruction. In this situation urine is unable to leave the bladder- this is an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinary treatment! Although all cats can develop bladder stones young, neutered, overweight male cats are at the highest risk for becoming blocked. It is not clear exactly how these stones form, but the most favored theory involves possible abnormalities in the diet, previous bladder disease or bacterial infection.
All cats who are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with possible bladder stones should have a urine sample analyzed by their veterinarian. This can help to identify the possible presence of urinary crystals (which can sometimes lead to bladder stones) as well as the presence of a urinary tract infection. However, the definitive diagnosis of bladder stones is typically done with a radiograph (x-ray). Since the majority of stones are visible on an x-ray this is the most common means for diagnosis. In rare cases bladder stones composed of certain materials can not be seen on a radiograph and require an ultrasound for diagnosis.
The only way to remove the symptoms associated with bladder stones is by removing them completely. The best way to do this is through surgery. Surgery consists of an abdominal incision as well as an incision into the bladder where the stones are removed and the bladder is flushed clean. For some animals, however, surgery is not an option. In these cases owners may choose to feed their cat a special prescription diet that may be effective in dissolving the stones. The diet works very slowly, and does not work on all types of stones. Additionally, not all cats will eat this prescription diet. In some cases prevention of bladder stones may be possible by feeding your cat a prescription diet prophylactically, especially if your cat is prone to urinary problems. The most common types of urinary prescription diets sold here at River Road Veterinary Clinic are Royal Canin Urinary SO and Hills Prescription Diet c/d.
If you suspect that your cat may have bladder stones or any other type of urinary problem or disease, please contact River Road Veterinary Clinic today at (802)649-3877.