1 little, 2 little, …7 little bladder stones!

Let’s face it, cats often have a bad rap for doing things out of spite when things in their lives aren’t quite the way they like it. We will admit that most cats definitely let their person know when they don’t approve of something! But, on the other hand, cats are very elusive especially when it comes to pain and other things that would make them appear weak to others (it’s simply their natural survival instinct!). Because of this, many of their seemingly odd or even inappropriate behaviors may be your first clue that something’s not quite right…and they just can’t hide it anymore!


For instance, Hallie is a fancy, spunky little two year old beauty. She had gone through a recent major change in her life, moving to a new home. Shortly thereafter, her mom noticed she was urinating outside of her litter box. Naturally, she tried different things like cleaning it more often, moving the box, trying a different litter, and playing with her more to help her adjust to her new home. However, it didn’t take her mom long to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment when Hallie continued avoiding the box.

During her exam, Hallie was found to be in tip-top shape as a young two year old.  However, when her abdomen (belly) was felt, especially in the area of her urinary bladder, she clearly was not pleased!  She was given some pain relief medication and a short while later, she agreed to further exam and allowed us to collect a urine sample.

At first glance, her urine had a red tinge to it (often difficult to notice in the litter box or on the carpet). This was confirmed to be blood on microscopic exam.  There were no bacteria, which made a urinary tract infection unlikely. Interestingly, there were no crystals in Hallie’s urine either. Cats can develop crystals in their urine which lead to painful irritation of the bladder and urethral lining. Over time actual stones can form.  We were still suspicious as to the cause of her blood, so a simple, non-invasive ultrasound was done of Hallie’s bladder.

Sure enough, already at two years old, Hallie had many large stones in her bladder.



With ultrasound, stones (the bright white spheres) were seen in the bladder (black oval)

The fix? Hallie was scheduled for surgery the next day and we removed seven prickly stones from her bladder. She recovered like a champ and by the next day was alert, affectionate, and urinating in the litter box! Hallie is now on a special prescription diet that will keep her urine at an appropriate pH and avoid future re-development of this painful problem. In some cases, diet alone will dissolve crystals and stones over time. However depending on the case, surgical removal is necessary to alleviate pain more quickly and effectively.

Urine crystals and stones can be very serious problems, especially in male cats with tiny narrow urethras that can become completely obstructed if a cluster of crystals gets stuck. This is a life-threatening emergency and often involves days in the hospital, and even surgery. Many people do not know that THIS CAN BE PREVENTED! Urine analysis beginning at a young age (1 year) will detect abnormal pH in the urine and see crystals that are not causing problems yet. If they are detected, often a simple diet change will get an affected cat back on the right track. Preventative medicine and routine check-ups are the key to avoiding serious and painful health conditions like this.

So, if you ever notice your kitty avoiding the litter box or hanging out in there more than she used to, give us a call! You may be surprised that she’s not upset with you after all!

=^.^=  Dr.Kat


  1. Denise Tenczar - 2017-02-08 at 7:41 AM - Reply

    a little over year old cat has been to my local vet almost everyweek for the last month, as he continues to pee outside of the box. it started that he was straining, with traces of blood I found on the floor. he was provided various medications and recently slowly introduced him to prescription food w stress relieve as the vet continue to believe that is the case.
    My concern is he is often licking his private area and recently using his paw as to scrap something away down below. Often times he pees a small amount as he then goes to another area atleast 4-5 times to pee more. Is this really stress or medical?
    Its just myself and Willie, no other animals. I have purchase food/treat toys, that he doesn’t show much interest. I often use the laser to play with him. Often in the am he wants to go outside. ( I have exposed him to outdoors mostly on a harness) where he is watching birds and has tried to chase rabbits.
    I’m at my wits end tho with him going outside of the box,
    Appreciate any insight to next steps

    • Dr. Kat Luther - 2017-02-25 at 9:26 PM - Reply

      Thank you for the information and for your concern for your boy. Appropriate tests such as urinalysis, urine cultures, radiographs, ultrasound, and others may need to be done for your cat if they haven’t been already. It’s very important, with his symptoms, that these be done by a skilled veterinarian if they haven’t been already to check for dangerous urinary tract problems. If we can be of assistance, please call us at 608-833-9750 or email catcare@catcareclinic.net.

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