Symptoms of Cat Bladder Crystals

The cat bladder is prone to infections of the lower urinary tract. While the cause of some feline urinary tract infections remains unknown, stones and crystals often give rise to bladder infections that spread to the entire urinary tract.

Cats suffering from lower urinary tract infections undergo a lot of pain and discomfort. If the infection is associated with bladder crystals, the pet could even suffer from urethral blockage and die. Pet owners should therefore watch for any symptoms of urinary tract infections or bladder crystals and conduct a vet check if these symptoms exist.

Cat Bladder Crystals

Although both male and female cats are at risk of developing urinary infections, male pets are more likely to suffer from urethral blockage. This condition occurs when bladder crystals combine with mucus from the urinary tract to form plugs. If the plug is large enough it can block the urethral opening and cause a life threatening condition known as a blockage.

Cats often suffer from crystals and stones at the same time. These stones and crystals are comprised of calcium oxalate and struvite. Most pets develop calcium oxalate crystals when they're fed acidified diets. Although these diets reduce the formation of struvite stones, they promote the formation of calcium oxalate bladder crystals. Pet owners have to therefore work with the vet to determine the best diet for their pets.

Symptoms of Cat Bladder Crystals Include:

  • Elevated blood calcium levels
  • Presence of calcium oxalate crystals in urine
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Cat whines while urinating
  • Presence of blood in the urine
  • Frequent licking of the genitals
  • Inflammation of the bladder
  • Cat suffers from a burning sensation at the urethra
  • Cat passes little to no urine
  • Increase in frequency of urination 
  • Foul smelling urine

Diagnosis of Feline Bladder Crystals

To find out if the cat is really suffering from bladder crystals, the vet will perform an ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvic area. Ultrasounds are useful because they can detect stones or crystals that aren't identified through radiographs.

The vet will also perform a urine analysis to find out the type of stone that's present. In some cases the vet will extract a stone from the cat's body with the help of a cystoscope to completely understand the composition of the stone or crystal that the cat is suffering from.

Treatment of Feline Bladder Crystals

Although some bladder crystals and stones can be treated with dietary modification, surgery may be required in some instances. Surgery is complex and requires hospitalization for several days. The vet will have to raise the cat's bladder during surgery in order to examine it and remove any stones or crystals that are lodged.

Even though this surgery is successful, pet owners need to take precautionary measures to prevent stones or crystals from recurring. In most cases the vet will recommend the use of non-acidifying foods that reduce the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

Since each pet has unique needs, it's important to find out which diet is ideal for your cat, particularly if he is suffering from urinary stones or frequent urinary tract infections.