Everything Cat Owners Need To Know About Bladder Stones

It isn’t uncommon for cats to develop bladder stones. Because cats have certain minerals present in their body naturally, they are prone to developing stones from time to time. 

Bladder stones are essentially crystallized mineral deposits that develop over time, ranging in size from nearly invisible to some that measure several millimeters in size. They develop when minerals aren’t being processed properly by a cat’s urinary system, creating a single stone or a cluster of stones that could pose a dangerous threat to a cat’s health if they go untreated. 

Symptoms and signs of bladder stones are pretty straightforward, which is a good thing, since other conditions may present with more ambiguous symptoms. For bladder stones, which can form over the course of months or within a few weeks, cats may have trouble urinating and exhibit straining. In addition, blood in a cat’s urine is a telltale sign that something is amiss and that something may likely be bladder stones.

Blood in a cat’s urine indicates the stones are rubbing against the wall of the bladder. Straining is a result of inflammation. 

If a cat is exhibiting these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. While some bladder stones are minor, others have the potential to be life-threatening, particularly if they block the urethra preventing urine from exiting the bladder entirely. This type of obstruction, if left untreated, could lead to a ruptured bladder.

An obstructed urethra is more common in male cats, but it is universally painful and should be considered a serious emergency for any cat owner. An obstruction due to bladder stones will very likely require surgery, known as a cystotomy, which is a procedure we perform at Dr. Kelly’s Vet. 

Since we specialize in offering affordable pet surgery and not necessarily diagnostic care, cat owners in need of a cystotomy will need to provide Dr. Kelly’s with a recent X-ray before scheduling an appointment. At Dr. Kelly’s, we’re able to offer affordable pet surgery to cat owners because of the volume of surgeries we perform and the way we perform them — primarily in a mobile setting.

When it comes to surgery for bladder stones, the procedure involves opening the bladder and removing the stones. Full recovery can take up to four weeks, but most cats need about two weeks to resume their normal activities. 

Surgery is not always the end result for bladder stones, though. Sometimes, a catheter is able to relieve an obstruction while other times a special diet has the ability to dissolve the stones. The downside to the diet approach is that it takes time, it doesn’t work on every type of bladder stone and some cats will turn their noses up to an altered diet. It also leaves a cat vulnerable to developing an obstruction while the dietary change takes time to have an impact.

If your cat is exhibiting signs of bladder stones, contact a trusted veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. If surgery is required, connect with our team at Dr. Kelly’s Vet. We’ll answer your questions and get your cat on the road to recovery with affordable surgical intervention. 

Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit is a trusted veterinary team serving the Phoenix, Peoria and Tucson metro areas, with accessible locations in each market, offering highly specialized surgery, quality spay and neuter procedures, and accessible dental care for pets. Contact us to learn more about our specialized services or to schedule an appointment.   


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