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General Health & Wellness

1 little, 2 little, …7 little bladder stones!

By February 6, 2024 No Comments

Let’s face it, cats often have a bad rap for doing things out of spite when things in their lives aren’t quite the way they like it. We will admit that most cats definitely let their person know when they don’t approve of something! But, on the other hand, cats are very elusive especially when it comes to pain and other things that would make them appear weak to others (it’s simply their natural survival instinct!). Because of this, many of their seemingly odd or even inappropriate behaviors may be your first clue that something’s not quite right…and they just can’t hide it anymore!


For instance, Hallie is a fancy, spunky little two year old beauty. She had gone through a recent major change in her life, moving to a new home. Shortly thereafter, her mom noticed she was urinating outside of her litter box. Naturally, she tried different things like cleaning it more often, moving the box, trying a different litter, and playing with her more to help her adjust to her new home. However, it didn’t take her mom long to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment when Hallie continued avoiding the box.

During her exam, Hallie was found to be in tip-top shape as a young two year old.  However, when her abdomen (belly) was felt, especially in the area of her urinary bladder, she clearly was not pleased!  She was given some pain relief medication and a short while later, she agreed to further exam and allowed us to collect a urine sample.

At first glance, her urine had a red tinge to it (often difficult to notice in the litter box or on the carpet). This was confirmed to be blood on microscopic exam.  There were no bacteria, which made a urinary tract infection unlikely. Interestingly, there were no crystals in Hallie’s urine either. Cats can develop crystals in their urine which lead to painful irritation of the bladder and urethral lining. Over time actual stones can form.  We were still suspicious as to the cause of her blood, so a simple, non-invasive ultrasound was done of Hallie’s bladder.

Sure enough, already at two years old, Hallie had many large stones in her bladder.


With ultrasound, stones (the bright white spheres) were seen in the bladder (black oval)

The fix? Hallie was scheduled for surgery the next day and we removed seven prickly stones from her bladder. She recovered like a champ and by the next day was alert, affectionate, and urinating in the litter box! Hallie is now on a special prescription diet that will keep her urine at an appropriate pH and avoid future re-development of this painful problem. In some cases, diet alone will dissolve crystals and stones over time. However depending on the case, surgical removal is necessary to alleviate pain more quickly and effectively.

Urine crystals and stones can be very serious problems, especially in male cats with tiny narrow urethras that can become completely obstructed if a cluster of crystals gets stuck. This is a life-threatening emergency and often involves days in the hospital, and even surgery. Many people do not know that THIS CAN BE PREVENTED! Urine analysis beginning at a young age (1 year) will detect abnormal pH in the urine and see crystals that are not causing problems yet. If they are detected, often a simple diet change will get an affected cat back on the right track. Preventative medicine and routine check-ups are the key to avoiding serious and painful health conditions like this.

So, if you ever notice your kitty avoiding the litter box or hanging out in there more than she used to, give us a call! You may be surprised that she’s not upset with you after all!