Urolithiasis, Calcium Oxalate in Cats
Urolithiasis is described as the presence of stones in the urinary tract. When these stones are made of calcium oxalate, they are referred to as calcium deposits. In most cases the stones can be removed safely, giving the cat a positive prognosis.
The development of these stones is more common in dogs than in cats, and occurs more frequently in older animals. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects dogs please visit this page in the PetMD pet health library.
Symptoms and Types
Although it is rare in cats, the most common symptom of urolithiasis is straining while the animal is urinating. If there is inflammation in the urinary tract, the cat may have an enlarged belly or the area surrounding the urinary region may be noticeably irritated. If the calcium deposits are large, they can sometimes be felt through the skin by a veterinarian.
The primary cause for the formation of stones is high levels of calcium in the urine. Some risk factors can include excessive dietary protein or vitamin D, a vitamin B6 deficiency, the use of calcium supplements or steroids, and a diet comprised exclusively of dry food.
The most common breeds to develop the medical condition include the Himalayan, the Scottish Fold, the Persian, the Ragdoll, and the Burmese.
X-rays and ultrasounds are performed to rule out any other underlying medical conditions which may be causing the cat's pain or trouble urinating. Blood work will be done to examine the cat's nutrient levels and determine if any are outside of the normal range.
One of the most common treatment options is the surgical removal of the stones; in some cases shock waves can be used to help break up the stones. Also, depending on the size and severity of the stones, they can occasionally be flushed and massaged out of the cat's system with a catheter and fluids.
Living and Management
It is important to reduce the cat's activity levels following surgery. Possible complications from the formation of these stones may arise such as the blockage of the urinary tract and the cat's inability to urinate. It is common for animals to reform these calcium-based stones over time. Treatment on an ongoing basis will include the monitoring of calcium intake and the urinary patterns of the cat to observe if any problems develop.
If surgery was used to remove the stones, post-surgical X-rays are recommended to ensure that the stones were completely removed.
The best prevention of recurrence is to monitor the cat's calcium levels on an ongoing basis so that adjustments can be made in the diet to maintain normal calcium levels.