A calico cat getting pet — might be sick or at rest.
A calico cat getting pet — might be sick or at rest. Photography © krblokhin | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Kidney Stones in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Yes, cats can get kidney stones, too. So, what are the symptoms of kidney stones in cats, and what should you do about kidney stones in cats?

Kidney stones in cats may come as a surprise diagnosis to some cat parents because it’s likely that your cat has never displayed any symptoms. But what exactly are kidney stones? How are they diagnosed in cats? And what types of treatments exist for kidney stones in cats?

First, what is a kidney stone?

An orange and white cat lying on the floor, looking sick.
What exactly are kidney stones in cats? Photography by Nikolay Bassov | Shutterstock.

Your cat’s kidneys prevent waste from building up in her body, which could make her sick. A cat’s kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood, and creating urine. Kidney stones — also known as renoliths — are hard deposits, or stones that can build up in a cat’s kidneys.

What are the symptoms of kidney stones in cats?

Mid Atlantic Cat Hospital’s Dr. Rucinsky explains that most of the time kidney stones in cats don’t result in any outward symptoms. However, she explains that cats may have some mild symptoms, like bloody urine but no obvious pain with urination.

Dr. Rucinsky, who is also a board-certified feline practitioner and a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Feline Specialty, cautions that if your cat is having symptoms such as, “anorexia, fever, lethargy or abdominal pain, it usually means that the stone is contributing to an infection or inflammation in the kidney.” Take your cat to the vet right away.

Suffering from kidney stones yourself? Here’s how to manage the pain and discomfort >>

What are the causes of kidney stones in cats?

Kidney stones in cats have causes similar to bladder stones. Dr. Rucinsky explains that kidney stones in cats might be the result of your cat’s diet. However, in other instances, cats might be predisposed to the formation of kidney stones for no obvious reasons. To be proactive and prevent kidney stones in cats, talk to your veterinarian about the best type of food to feed your cat.

How are kidney stones in cats diagnosed?

Dr. Rucinsky explains that kidney stones in cats are most commonly diagnosed through abdominal radiographs/x-rays or by a veterinarian performing abdominal ultrasounds where she will be able to see the kidney stones in your cat’s kidneys.

How are kidney stones in cats treated?

Here’s something surprising — Dr. Rucinsky says that most cats who have kidney stones don’t need treatment! She explains that kidney stones are “made of a type of stone that is able to be dissolved with a diet change.” In order for your veterinarian to approach this treatment plan, she will analyze any other stones that might be in the cat’s bladder, or stones that your cat may have peed out.

“Because removing stones in the kidney would require extensive surgery into the kidney itself, lithotripsy [a treatment to break down kidney stones into small pieces that can easily be passed] can be used in large dogs, but is usually not successful nor recommended for our feline friends,” Dr. Rucinsky adds.

If your cat is diagnosed with kidney stones, follow your veterinarian’s advice to monitor your cat’s kidney function regularly. Dr. Rucinsky says all cat owners should do this —regardless of their cat’s history with kidney stones.

What is the prognosis for a cat with kidney stones?

Kidney stones in cats may sound scary, but the prognosis is very good. “The vast majority of cats with kidney stones will never have any issues with them,” Dr. Rucinsky says. She encourages cat parents to understand that the prognosis is excellent. “If your cat is diagnosed with kidney stones, don’t panic,” Dr. Rucinsky advises.

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author. Her novels have been honored by organizations ranging from the Lambda Literary Foundation to the American Library Association. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor who lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, a senior Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix and a Newfoundland puppy, along with two bossy cats and a semi-feral kitten. Learn more at www.SassafrasLowrey.com.

Thumbnail: Photography © krblokhin | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

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