Radiograph showing stone in the bladder (see black arrow)

Bladder stones are seen in dogs, cats, ferrets, and Guinea pigs. There are variations in the composition and cause of the stones which vary between species. Bladder stones form in cats from excesses of individual minerals present in the urine. Bladder stones are truly rock-like formations. Bladder stones can be single or multiple. The most common clincal signs of a stone is hematuria ( bloody urine ) and dysuria ( straining to urinate ). The blood is caused by the stone rubbing against the bladder wall and damaging the tissue. Dysuria (straining to urinate) is caused by swelling and inflammation in the wall which leads to muscle spasms. The stone also may actually be blocking the bladder outflow path. Stones cause cats significant pain and discomfort. They may develop within three to four weeks or over several months.

Generally stones are diagnosed by radiographs ( x-rays ) of the bladder. Occasionally, one which isn’t seen radiographically may be diagnosed with ultrasound. Once identified, the treatment is surgical removal. Stone composition evaluation can be helpful to determine what dietary changes need to be instituted to prevent it from recurring.

Cats commonly suffer from lower urinary tract disease that has similar symptoms making it hard to differentiate the two without diagnostic tests. Lower urinary tract disease especially in male cats is associated with sand like material that may cause outflow obstruction. There usually are no major large stones present. Both sexes may have hematuria and dysuria which results in pain and distress. A variety of treatments are available to help cats suffering from lower urinary tract disease. Many cats with larger stones are misdiagnosed as lower urinary tract disease because radiographs or ultrasound is not performed. Any cat with dsyuria and hematuria should be evaluated with the diagnostics aforemenetioned to properly arrive at a diganosis.