What are the Signs of Kidney Stones in Cats?

J.M. Densing

Kidney stones in cats occur when there are undissolved minerals present in liquid waste, or urine, in the kidneys. Some common signs of kidney stones in cats include difficulty passing urine, the presence of blood in it, or urinating in the wrong place. Other signs include lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and pain. It is possible for there to be no visible symptoms until a cat is seriously ill; if they do occur, prompt medical attention is necessary, usually involving medication or surgery. The best way to treat this problem is to try to prevent kidney stones from forming through diet.

Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.
Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.

Over time, tiny mineral particles can build up to form kidney stones in cats. A few of the particles will stick together forming a crystal, then more particles start to stick to the mass forming a stone; the longer kidney stones remain in the body, the larger they can grow. Kidney stones can get stuck and cause blockages in the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. This can be very painful and dangerous for the cat.

A cat.
A cat.

Some of the most obvious signs of kidney stones in cats are related to urination. A cat with kidney stones may show signs of pain and discomfort while urinating or appear to be straining when it goes. It may urinate more frequently in much smaller amounts than usual or may stop going completely. Blood in the urine is also an indication of kidney stones. Another possible sign of kidney stones is the cat urinating in places other than the litter box, such as furniture or floors, or it may appear to leak urine at various times.

There are several other symptoms pet owners should be aware of that may indicate kidney stones in cats. A cat that has kidney stones may vomit and experience loss of appetite. It may stop eating completely. Another sign of kidney stones is that the cat may appear depressed and be weak and lethargic. The cat may also show signs of abdominal pain.

In some cases of kidney stones, the cat may not show any symptoms until it is already extremely sick. If any signs of this problem are noted, the cat should be taken to a veterinarian for evaluation right away. Treatment may consist of medication to dissolve the stones or surgical removal. Many experts believe that the best treatment is to prevent kidney stones from forming by feeding cats a diet formulated for urinary tract health and ensuring that they drink plenty of water to help flush undissolved minerals out of the system. If stones do form, they can be analyzed so the minerals causing them can be eliminated from the cat's diet to prevent further issues.

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