Bladder Stones & How to get your cat to drink more water

To tell you the truth, I never really gave thought to how much water my cats drink. I assumed that cats much like humans will drink when thirsty. Imagine my surprise when I learned Cali had …

6The Big Scare…

Something you never want to see in the litter box is blood! Bright red or maroon, blood-is-blood and its never a good sign.  You can’t imagine the near heart attack experience I had seeing bright red fresh blood in the litter box and dark blood drops on the carpet. Actually, I hate to say it, but blood on the carpet is good in a multi-cat household where it can be hard to determine which cat made the deposits. Unfortunately/fortunately the blood trail of drops led directly to where Cali, my tortoiseshell was sleeping. As with most unexpected pet related injuries and diseases, this happened outside of our vet’s normal business hours meaning a trip to the veterinary hospital ER was required. Ugh!

The ER…

A thorough examination and vitals were taken on Cali which also included blood tests, a urinalysis,  and x-rays. The blood found in her urine (hematuria) is a sign that your cat has feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) or cystitis. The x-rays confirmed “bladder stones” which are not uncommon in cats and are often treated with non-surgical methods such as (a) medications & a special diet, or (b) flushing out the stones (urohydropropulson). These are options usually available when the stones are small and can be dissolved over time or flushed out. Of course, Cali’s condition was at the stage where surgical removal was the only option. The blood I was seeing was the result of her stones rubbing against and damaging the bladder wall.


Fast forward, Cali came through surgery fine, all stones were removed, there would be minimal scarring and minimal staples to remove. A  stone analysis was sent off to identify the type and chemical composition of her stones which were “struvite uroliths”.

The composition: “Magnesium Ammonium P04 6H20 (Struvite) 100%”

 Feline Struvite Uroliths (The cliff note version)…

In a nut shell, these are stones that can be found anywhere in the upper or lower tracks of your cat’s urinary system. The stones which start out about the size of a grain of sand are formed when a cat’s urine becomes too concentrated with high levels of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate. It is the high concentration of these 3 mineral salts that alter the urine’s pH and over time bind together to form crystals. When these crystals bind together, they in turn form stones (uroliths)  or more specifically, “struvite stones” in the bladder. These stones can develop over a period of weeks or even months. The size and number can vary from a couple of large stones to many small stones depending on the amount of crystalline material present.

Post-Op and Treatment

Post-op instructions included a special veterinarian prescribed diet and to “encourage increase water consumption” to reduce the risk of future episodes.

“A veterinarian prescribed diet”

The special diet consisted of replacing our current wet/dry food with a vet prescribed cat food low in protein, phosphorus and magnesium which are the minerals that led to the formation of crystals. With long term use of the food, the mineral deposits would stay less concentrated and the pH level less desirable for stones to develop. The recommendations were Hills Urinary Care c/d, Eukanuba Urinary Struvite and Royal Canin Urinary SO, all available in both canned and dry food. Of course, the last one purchased was the one Cali would eat and she absolutely loves the stuff! Go figure.

“Encourage increase water consumption”

I admit it. I am a sucker for trying new products I believe will enhance my pets’ health & well being. I am also a sucker for things I think my pets will like in toys and clothes. Like many of you, my purchases are often based upon customer reviews, consumer reports, and various social media platforms. While a product may have excellent ratings, my opinions of a product are based on trial and error and those 6 pairs of paws that rule the household. I must warn you, my pets are spoiled rotten and very vocal when it comes to something they don’t like. So long story short, after having tried all the conventional methods it came down to something totally simple yet obvious…

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