Controlling Feline Bladder Stones with Vitamin B6 Supplements

Vitamin B6 supplements may be helpful in preventing one of the most common types of feline bladder stones.

Different Types of Bladder Stones

Cats are affected by three main types of bladder stones: calcium oxalate, struvite and urate. Male cats seem to be more prone to struvite stone formation, while female cats are more likely to develop calcium oxalate stones. Burmese, Himalayan and Persian cats seem more likely than other cat breeds to develop calcium oxalate stones.

When veterinarians began studying stone formation about 30 years ago, struvite stones were the most common stone type. Pet food manufacturers reformulated their diets to lower magnesium levels and reduce the chances of causing struvite stone formation, but this reformulation may have helped create the current increase in the number of cases of calcium oxalate stone formation because of the increased levels of acidic urine caused by the reformulated diets.

Calcium oxalate is now estimated to be responsible for about 40 percent of all feline bladder stones, and it is the type of stone that supplemental vitamin B6 may help prevent.

How Bladder Stones Form

Bladder stones form when the pH level in a cat’s urine changes dramatically. Cats with acidic urine (pH levels lower than 7.0) are at risk of developing calcium oxalate stones. Other causes of calcium oxalate stones include some types of cancer, Cushing’s disease or high levels of blood calcium, which could result from too much calcium, sodium, protein or vitamin D in the cat’s diet.

Why Vitamin B6 May Help

Vitamin B6 supplements may help the prevention of bladder stones in some cats because some cats with bladder stones have been found to have low levels of vitamin B6 in their bodies. In these cases, the lower levels of vitamin B6 lead to increased levels of oxalic acid in the cat’s blood. This presence of this acid then leads to stone formation.

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is found in a number of foods, but its nutritional value is easily lost during processing. Other signs of vitamin B6 deficiency include anemia, dental cavities, poor growth and lesions on the skin.

How to Prevent Bladder Stones

Preventing the stones from re-forming after a cat has had a bout of stones can be challenging for a cat owner, but doing just four things can make it easier. In addition to vitamin B6 supplements as recommended by your veterinarian, three other steps can help you help your cat steer clear of calcium oxalate bladder stones.

First, visit your veterinarian annually, and request a urine pH test along with your cat’s other tests. This helps resolve bladder problems before they become long-standing and serious.

Next, feed your cat at set mealtimes, as opposed to free-choice feedings. Although free-choice feedings are sometimes recommended for other types of bladder stones, they are not recommended for preventing calcium oxalate stone formation. Also, free-choice feeding can lead to overweight or obese cats, and obesity has been implicated as a cause of feline bladder stones.

Along with the set mealtimes comes a canned-food-only diet that helps prevent stone formation. These diets contain higher levels of fiber, lower levels of protein and help the cat’s urine become more alkaline. The higher water content in canned foods also helps reduce the chances of stone formation. Supplement the diet with plenty of fresh, clean water so your cat can drink to her heart’s content.