by Dr. Mark Silberman, Southwest Animal Clinic, 4570 Bissonnet
Bladder stones (uroliths) are rock-like structures that form in the urinary bladder. Comprised of minerals, they can take many shapes from a single large stone to multiple lobulated stones to sand-like grit.
Cats with bladder stones show the typical signs of a urinary tract infection. They strain to urinate, produce small amounts of urine and experience an increase in frequency of urination (perhaps outside of the litter box).
There are several different types of uroliths. It is important to determine the mineral type when analyzing the stones. Stress, diet, water intake, urinary tract infections and urine pH all are contributing factors to stone formation.
Diagnosis requires a urinalysis, radiographs and manual palpation of the bladder. Most stones will show up on a radiograph but some will not.
There are two options for treatment. The fastest way to treat the problem is with surgery. The stones are removed and analyzed by a laboratory for mineral composition allowing for a more accurate treatment.
The second option is to dissolve the stone over time with a special diet. This is easier and less expensive; however, it takes a long time and does not always work. Many times it is not possible to analyze the stone so the choice of special diet is hit or miss. Even if the diet is correct, some cats will not eat it.
If you have any questions, consult your veterinarian.