Kidney stones or bladder stones in cats are formed by the accumulation of crystals, which unite and build up over time, according to Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc. at peteducation.com. Kidney stones may be small, but can also reach diameters of up to about an one inch. Kidney stones can also be difficult to detect, so preventative measures are a good idea, regardless of whether or not kidney stones are already present.
Look for symptoms like difficulty urinating and prolonged maintenance of the urinating posture. A cat with kidney stones may urinate very little or not at all. Take the cat to the veterinarian if any of these signs are present. Cats suffering from kidney stones may not present any symptoms, especially if the stones are very small.
The crystals that precipitate the stones may not be noticed at all before the stones form. Since the bladder stones may go undetected for a long time, the situation can be worse than expected. Cats with stones that are blocking the urinary system, for example, may develop kidney failure and die without emergency treatment. Veterinarians usually find bladder stones in cats when they exam the cats and press on the abdomen around the kidney. Stones may also be found using X-rays.
In cats who have been diagnosed with relatively small stones, veterinarians may only prescribe dietary measures. Bladder crystals in cats are caused by pH imbalances and mineral accumulation. Poor diet is usually to blame.
The three types of bladder crystals that appear most often in cats are struvite, oxalate and urate crystals. Dietary measures may differ depending on the type of crystal found in the ailing feline. Struvite crystals, for instance, may be treated by allowing the cat smaller meals more times per day. While urate crystals, on the other hand, may be treated and prevented with low-protein diets. In most cases of feline kidney stones, cats should drink more water and eat wet food instead of dry food.
According to Lisa A. Pierson, D.V.M. at catinfo.org, cats are carnivores and tend not have the biological urge to drink enough water. Cats thus need to consume water with their food in the form of wet food to maintain the proper pH in their urinary systems. Switch to dry food to treat small problems and prevent problems from developing.
Three main problems with dry food lead to urinary problems and kidney stones in cats. Dry foods are too high in carbohydrates, contain the wrong type of protein for cats (plant, not animal) and do not contain enough moisture. Moisture dilutes the urinary concentration of crystals, thus preventing the accumulation that leads to formation of kidney stones.
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