What causes kidney stones in cats?
Feline kidney stones are minerals and crystals that clump together inside the kidney of the cat. They are not as common as bladder stones, but they are a very similar problem.
What causes them?
There are a number of different things that could cause them. Sometimes cats are genetically predisposed to get kidney stones, meaning that because of the way their genes are the kidney will function slightly differently in a way that makes them more likely to form. Sometimes the cause has to do with the cat's diet, which can affect both the level of minerals inside the cat's kidney and the acidity, which affects whether the minerals will clump or dissolve. Finally, infections and a cat not drinking enough water or a cat refusing to drink water can cause them to form as well.
What are the symptoms?
Blood in the urine is a big one. The cat may also seem to be vomiting more frequently, and it may have feline urinary tract infections on a regular basis as well. Finally, if your cat seems sensitive to you touching its body (either on the belly or the sides) it may be a sign of them as well.
Your vet will have to diagnose them to be certain. They can usually see them in an X-ray, but that won't tell them exactly what kind they are, so they may have to analyze the urine or blood as well to be sure.
What is the treatment?
Treatments may not be the same from cat to cat because there are actually a number of kinds of kidney stones caused by different minerals or processes, and different treatments work on different ones. Partly it depends on how sick your cat is. With cats that do not have very bad symptoms yet, vets will usually at least try out a dietary change. There are special diets you can get from your vet that will dissolve many of them, and then they'll just pass through the cat normally. However, that is usually all your cat can eat, so you may have to be on guard if you have multiple cats in a house to make sure the cat eats only the prescription food. There are some medications that encourage the stones to dissolve as well, and your vet may want to try those too.
If that doesn't work, or if the symptoms appear serious or dangerous, the vet may surgically remove them. This is obviously more invasive and an option that vets prefer to avoid if they can.
Finally, if the vet thinks there is a cause to be treated that will stop the stones from forming, they will do that as well. This generally means antibiotics of some kind if there are recurring infections, and rehydration if the cat is not drinking enough.
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