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Bladder stones and crystals.

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic shorthair,
Age: 5-8 years
Hello Dr. Marie:

Last fall and again in April of this year, Jazz got what was thought to be a urinary tract infection. Urinalysis was done both times, and the urine showed small traces of blood, but no crystals. In May, however, she urinated and there was a great deal of blood in her urine. An x-ray was done, and showed bladder stones. She was operated on, and everything went well, but when I took her in for a follow-up urinalysis, the report showed a clear appearance,dark yellow in colour; with a ph level of 7, and a note under crystals saying "struvite clumps". She is now on a short term diet of Hills Prescrition Diet SD to try to lower her ph level to an acceptible range, and to eliminate the crystals.

My question is, when she had bladder stones, she showed no signs of crystals in her urine, but now that the bladder stones are removed, she shows this higher ph level, and definite signs of crystals. I don't understand this, and have asked the vet techs where she was operated on, and they don't really have any explanation for it.

Can you help me with an explanation that I can understand? I want the best for Jazz, and I do not want for her to have to go through this again; but I am having a very hard time understanding why when she had bladder stones, she showed no signs of crystals, and now that they are removed, she is showing the crystals in her urine.

I would really appreciate any solid information that you can supply to me.

Thank you,
Suzanne Phillips

Related article:FLUTD - Urinary Tract Blockage in Cats.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Jazz is having all of these urinary tract problems! I'll see if I can give you some ideas as to what may be going on with her.

When a pet has bladder stones, they may or may not have crystals in their bladder. There are different types of stones that cats can get. Most likely the stone she had was a struvite stone. If there are a lot of struvite crystals then they can glom together and build a stone. As more crystals form (which is because of the high pH), more crystals get added to the stone and the stone gets bigger.

What I am going to say here is my theory and may not be true, but here is a possible explanation for what is happening with Jazz. It's possible that when there was a stone present (or multiple stones present), any new crystals in the urine attached themselves to the stone and therefore we didn't see free crystals in the urine. Now that the stones are removed, the free crystals have nothing to attach to and therefore are seen as free in the urine.

The next question is why she has a high pH. Do you know if a culture has been done of her urine? This is where a sample is sent to the lab to see if there is bacteria present. Quite often struvite crystals form because of infection. If this is the case, then the culture test will tell us which antibiotics would be best to give.

The s/d food is definitely a good idea. This will lower the pH of the urine and dissolve any crystals that are present. S/d is not something that a cat is meant to stay on for their whole life though. So, eventually your vet will switch her to something else such as c/d, or s/o. Personally I use more s/o, but every case is different.

Your vet will likely be asking you to do several followup urine tests in the future and these are important.

I hope this information helps and I hope Jazz does ok!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your reply, Dr. Marie. At least from what you have told me, I now understand why those crystals did not show up in Jazz's urine when she had the stones (and there were several of them).

I know I took a urine sample to the vet in the evening, and had the results the next morning, so I am not sure if there was a culture done or not. I will certainly ask them about that. She did come home from the clinic on an antibiotic. However, she was very difficult about taking the pill form, so the vet did substitute a liquid, which was easier to administer.

Thank you again for your explanation, and I will definitely check into this matter further.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome Suzanne! From what you have described most likely a culture was not done as we need to do that on a sterile sample and the only way to get a sterile sample is to put a needle into the bladder and draw urine out.

Let me know if you have more concerns!

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.