What Are Bladder Stones?

Bladder stones are rock-hard collections of minerals that can form in the cat's bladder. They can be made of many different materials, but the most common are struvite and calcium oxalate stones.
The stones come in many different sizes and shapes - they can be very small, or grow so large they take up almost the entire bladder. Smaller stones often pose a larger health risk because they can escape from the bladder into the urethra and get stuck, blocking the flow of urine. Male cats are at a higher risk for blocking, because they have a narrower urethra than females, and a blockage can quickly become a life-threatening condition.
Symptoms depend on the type, size, and location of the stone. Some cats urinate in places other than their litter box, because the urge to go is so strong they just go wherever they are. Or, they associate the litter box with pain and try somewhere else, to see if it will work better. It's not the cat's fault. Punishing your cat or yelling at your cat will not work; he or she needs to see a vet.
Watch for urinating outside the box, meowing or crying while urinating, blood in the urine, and frequent urination.
Diagnosis of bladder stones is usually done with x-rays, but depending on size they may be palpable to a veterinarian. Some stones show up on an x-ray, others will not. Some cases require surgery to remove the stones, others can be eliminated with special diet.

Once a cat has been diagnosed with bladder stones, he or she may need a special diet to prevent further formation. Increased water is always recommended as a way to help flush away anything that may be lingering in the bladder.

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