Bladder stones are exactly what they sound like – they’re rock like formations of minerals that develop in the bladder.
These stones range in size from a grain of sand to a larger pebble and often a cat will have a whole host of different sized stones.
The most common signs of bladder stones are blood in the urine and straining to urinate. Although mostly uncomfortable, it’s also assumed that the condition is painful.
The condition is generally not serious, but that isn’t always the case as small stones can travel through the urethra and cause a blockage, making it very difficult to urinate. This is when the condition is considered an emergency and you must contact the vet immediately if you notice your cat struggling because the bladder could rupture if it isn’t dealt with swiftly.
Some stones can be detected simply by feeling through the abdominal wall with your fingers however some are simply too small for this, so an x-ray or an ultrasonic bladder examination is a much more reliable method of detection.
There are two options of treatment – surgery or a special diet.
Surgery is often the first choice of cat owners as it is the quickest by far and the cat will usually make a speedy recovery. The surgery opens the bladder and directly removes the stone and is generally successful.
A special diet is a good choice for some because it avoids surgery which is good for those with heart problems, but there are negatives for this option. The first downside is that it takes a lot longer, often taking months. The other drawbacks are that the cat will continue to feel discomfort in this time and not all cats will eat the special diet, especially fussy eaters.