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Treatment for Bladder stones in cats

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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Our question this week was:

Hi Dr. Jon,

Have you written about bladder stones in cats? My kitty Oliver who is 2 ½-years-old was diagnosed via x-ray several weeks ago with bladder stones.

He had been eating a mix of dry kibble (Chicken Soup for the Cat Lovers Soul) and canned (Natural Balance). He is now off dry food completely and I'll never go back! We tried the c/d diet per my vet, but new x-rays show they are still there and same size. My vet prescribed Methioform to see if that brings down his ph levels (which were at 7.2) and see if that helps dissolve the stones. I am slowly transitioning him over to canned Wellness from the C/D prescription food and so far he is doing well.

He shows no signs of straining, has regular litter box habits (normal size urinations and at regular intervals), and overall is very calm, content, and playful. He is not showing any outward signs of pain or discomfort like he was about 4 weeks ago when we were in the middle of the new prescription diet.

If the Methioform does not work then surgery is the only option. Have you ever heard of Methioform helping to dissolve bladder stones? We suspect he has the calcium oxy stones and not struvite since the prescription food did nothing for him.

Sincerely,

Tami Grewenow


Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. The treatments for bladder stones are generally either dietary (to try to "dissolve" the stones) or surgery. The dietary approach depends on the type of stone present. Some stones have different compositions and pH requirements and therefore foods are formulated to alter the pH or composition to prevent stone development and help dissolve stones.

There are pros and cons to each approach. On one hand, you don't want to put a cat through a surgery if he doesn't need it but on the other hand, that is the fastest way and most complete method to get rid of the stones, have them analyzed and start with a "clean slate". By that I mean the stones are gone, the stones are analyzed and you can go on a diet to try to prevent ongoing development. That is the fastest and most complete method to deal with the stones.

Dietary therapy can take months, can be as expensive as surgery, and you always have the concern that a stone small enough can become lodged and not pass – especially in a male cat, causing a urinary obstruction. If you don't know the type of stone, it can also be difficult to treat them medically (which food or medication will work best). However, if it works, it is very good as you didn't have to put your cat though surgery.

Like I mentioned, there are pros and cons to both approach and no prefect solution. The approach your vet is taking sounds reasonable based on the information that you gave to me.

An article that might be helpful to you is Bladder Stones in Cats.

Best of luck!


Dr. Jon



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