What Are Urine Crystals in Cats?
7 February, 2018
urine crystal in cats

As cat owners, we want are cats to be happy, healthy and thrive.  And even despite our efforts, some of our cats can develop microscopic crystals in their urine. The development of crystals in the urine, or crystalluria, occurs when normal minerals that float in the urine bind to each other.  These may or may not be associated with a urinary tract infection.

What are Urine Crystals?

These crystals, which are like very fine sand, irritate the bladder .Sometimes crystals will form in the bladder of cats. While these crystals are microscopic, they have very sharp edges which rub on and cause irritation to the walls of the bladder. This leads to inflammation, irritation, and often blood in the urine. Affected cats will show the typical signs of cystitis–frequent urination with little passed, often with blood and causing them pain.

Symptoms usually are blood in the urine or your kitty has trouble urinating

One of the most common signs of urine crystals is when your kitty approaches the litter box and just sits there and doesn’t release much or any urine.  They try to relieve that irritation by urinating frequently or often outside the litterbox. Because they urinate so frequently, the bladder remains almost empty. Therefore the cat urinates only a few drops at a time or sometimes not at all, which can be painful for your kitty (and you to watch).

If you think your cat has crystals, take him to the vet immediately

If your cat shows any signs of crystals, he or she should be examined by a veterinarian immediately to stop it from becoming a bigger issue.  Your vet will withdraw urine from your kitty and conduct a urinalysis.  They usually check to see if there is bacterial, crystals, blood cells and other substances in the urine as well as measuring the concentration and pH of the urine. All this information gives the doctor clues as to the underlying cause of the cat’s problem.

The treatment of cystitis is based on the changes in the urine

Each cat with cystitis is treated according to the changes in the urine (pH, crystals, bacteria, blood, etc.), the type of crystals present, and the presence or absence of a bladder stone or urethral obstruction. The first line of treatment is always to increase water consumption, decrease minerals in the diet and decrease stress.

If your cat does have urine crystals, a special diet can help aid recovery and/or antibiotics

If your cat does have urine crystals, your vet will usually recommend treatment that sometimes will include antibiotics, a specific type of cat food (always wet) and will try to help you find ways to get your kitties to drink more water.

If neither a bladder stone nor urethral obstruction is indicated in your diet, proper medication will generally relieve the discomfort. A urinalysis is necessary for proper diagnosis. A special diet will often help to dissolve crystals in the urine and speed up recovery.

If your cat has an obstruction of the urethra, a catheter is passed into the bladder while he is under a short-acting anesthetic. The catheter is frequently left in place for about 24 hours. The cat is discharged from the hospital when it appears unlikely that obstruction will reoccur, usually 1-2 days later. If he is experiencing kidney failure and toxemia, intravenous fluids and additional hospitalization are needed.

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