Bladder stones & Blockages in cats: Emergency condition & Dietary fixes
- by DR Roxanne Jones
Have you ever had a cat with bladder stones? If so, you may have had to make an emergency trip to the vet with your beloved kitty because s/he is yelping in pain, squatting continuously, and/or straining to urinate, with only small drops of blood-stained urine coming out.
This is the result of bladder stones, which cause painful, potentially dangerous blockages.
Which animals are prone to bladder stones?/h2>
Any animal can get bladder stones, but this specific condition causing blockages is very common in male cats that are fed supermarket cat food.
Why male cats specifically?
In cats that eat supermarket cat food, small stones and crystal sludge can begin to form in the bladder.
In female cats this is not usually a huge problem: as long as the stones remain small, they are able to pass them, due to the fact that they have a wide, short urethra (the tube that they wee out of ).
Male cats however have a long, thin urethra and a very small penis so any crystals that form get stuck in the pipe. This will cause a blockage, and your cat will be unable to urinate.
Note there is a wide range of reasons why dogs may develop bladder stones.
Why do I need to rush my cat to the vet?
Urinary blockages are a medical emergency and need to be treated immediately – they cannot be treated at home.
If left untreated, your cat will become very sick. His organs will start to fail due to the build-up of toxins in his system that cannot be released. This can be fatal to your beloved furbaby
Clinical signs of urinary blockages in cats
- The animal appears uncomfortable and in pain
- Crying / screaming
- Repeatedly squatting as if to urinate, possibly with no urine coming out
- Straining to urinate
- Small drops of bloody urine or no urine at all
- Licking of genital area
- Lack of appetite
- If left untreated, dehydration, collapsing, seizures, coma and death
What will happen at the vet?
A cat with a blockage will be admitted to hospital, as this is an emergency medical situation. He will be sedated and a urinary catheter will be passed to unblock the urethra. Often it is necessary to do blood tests and place your kitty on a drip.
If the blockage is very severe or if this has occurred previously, your cat may require a surgery called a urethrostomy once he is stable. This surgery creates a new hole for your cat to wee out of, which will be much wider than the natural hole he was born with, and will enable him to urinate out any stones that are formed.
How can I help my cat avoid getting bladder stones?
Feeding your cat a diet of premium food is the easiest and most effective way to prevent crystals from forming. These foods are nutritionally balanced and specifically designed for cats, helping their organs to function properly. This is the most important step in preventing a blocked cat.
You also need to pay attention to your cat’s water intake. Cats are not good at drinking fresh water, so make it fun for them. Place several bowls around the house at different levels, as some cats like to drink from a height. Have a place where they can drink running water – they love this. There are loads of gadgets available specifically for this purpose.
Include quality wet food in your cat’s diet too. Wet food is at least 80% moisture, which will contribute to your kitty’s daily water intake.
What’s wrong with feeding my cat supermarket food?
Cats are obligate carnivores: they need high levels of protein in their diet to be healthy.
Supermarket pet food, especially dry food, is packed full of additives, preservatives, flavour enhancers, colourants and fillers, most of which are carbohydrates – not good quality protein.
Because cats are obligate carnivores, all these extra carbs in the food are unable to be properly processed or used, resulting in an array of problems including subclinical inflammation and the development of bladder stones.
Moreover, the excessive amount of minerals present in these foods, specifically calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, leads to the development of bladder stones
Finally, supermarket foods are also often lacking in vitamin B6, which contributes to increased chances of bladder stones forming, among other health problems.
It’s important to note too that since cats are not good at drinking lots of fresh water, eating only dry pellets can lead to subclinical dehydration. This, when combined with the extra minerals in supermarket food, can result in the formation of stones.
The benefits of switching to premium cat food
Although premium food may cost more, cats tend to eat less of it. Cats are small and don’t eat a lot, plus, they’ll eat less when they’re on a high quality diet compared to a supermarket diet, as it provides more substantial, sustaining nutrition.
When feeding premium cat food, it’s important to measure out the correct daily allowance for your pet. These recommendations are found on the back of each packet of food. This can be spread over several meals per day if your cats eat quickly, or given as one meal per day if your cat picks at his food throughout the day.
And remember: supermarket cat foods are the McDonald’s of the pet world! They’re full of flavor enhancers to make them taste irresistible to your pet, and it may take your furkid a while to get used to the additive-free premium diets. Try different brands and flavours to find the right one for your furbaby. Also be wary of overfeeding, as these good quality diets are jam-packed with good nutrients, and overindulging can lead to obesity.
You can make things even easier for yourself (and – bonus! – increase the time you spend with your pet) by ordering you kitty’s food online. Why not set up a recurring weekly or monthly delivery? Browse our selection and don’t forget to add a treat or two for your baby!
As always, prevention is better than cure, and in the case of blockages, prevention is very easy through diet. Here’s to healthy kitties with healthy bladders.