Diagnosing Cat Bladder Stones Diagnosing Cat Bladder Stones

Bladder stones, or uroliths, appear in the urinary tract and bladder. They are rock-like and consist of mineral residue found in your cat's blood. They aren't related to kidney stones, but they act in the same manner, obstructing the flow of blood, urine and body fluids. Bladder stones can cause your cat severe pain, and, if not treated, could make your cat vulnerable to a number of other diseases.

Causes of Bladder Stones in Cats

Feline bladder stones form for a number of reasons. Vets believe that diet plays an important role in the formation of bladder stones. Foods that contain a high salt content can contribute, over time, to bladder stones. Bacterial infection can also contribute to the formation of bladder stones.

Symptoms of Bladder Stones

Two common symptoms of bladder stones in cats include hematuria, or blood in the urine, and dysuria, or difficulty urinating. Hematuria happens when bladder stones rub against the wall of the bladder, irritating it and causing it to bleed. Dysuria occurs when bladder stones obstruct the flow of urine through the urethra. The obstruction may occur at the opening of the urethra, inside the bladder, or inside the urethra itself, depending on the size of the obstructing bladder stone.

If bladder stones disrupt the flow of your cat's urine, then he can't empty his bladder, and he may suffer a great deal of pain in his abdomen. Your cat may cry in pain, and his abdomen may be very tender to the touch.

Bladder Stone Diagnosis

While hematuria and dysuria are clinical symptoms of feline bladder stones, many cats that display these symptoms don't have bladder stones. In fact, they may simply be suffering from a bladder infection. Your vet may be able to feel the stones inside the bladder by palpitating the abdomen with his hands. However, your cat may have bladder stones that are too small to be felt by palpitation.

Most bladder stones can be seen on X-rays. If your vet suspects bladder stones, he will perform one of these procedures. If your cat's abdomen seems very painful to the touch, he's recently had a bladder infection, or he suffers from recurrent episodes of hematuria and dysuria, then your vet will suspect bladder stones.

Not all bladder stones are visible on X-rays. Some are known as "radiolucent," meaning that their mineral composition is such that they do not reflect the X-ray beam. If this is the case, your vet may perform an ultrasound. Alternatively, he may inject a special type of dye into the bladder, to provide contrast on subsequent X-rays.

Treating Bladder Stones

Bladder stones can be surgically removed, but this is a major surgery that requires opening up the abdomen and bladder. Pain and dysuria begin to disappear after two to four days of recovery. Hemturia disappears a few days after that. However, surgery is not a good option unless obstruction or infection are present.

For many cats, bladder stones can be dissolved with a special diet. This may not work for all types of stones, and many cats may not be willing to eat the special diet. Furthermore, the dissolution process takes several weeks. However, dietary treatment is preferable to surgery for most cats.