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What Causes Crystals in Cat Urine

Is the fact that your cat has been diagnosed with crystals in its urine, keeping you on pins and needles? Have you been trying to find out what causes crystals in cat urine and how your cat can be treated? Well, then here's help...
CatAppy Staff
Sometimes, cats develop fine crystalline particles in their urine. There are several factors that contribute to the formation of crystals, which make urination a difficult and painful process for the cat. Crystals in urine can prove fatal, for it may lead to the formation of bladder stones and cause feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Urolithiasis, or stones in the urinary tract, can lead to obstruction of the urethra, restricting the flow of urine. Since the inability to pass urine can cause death of the cat, crystals in urine can result in a medical emergency. Here you'll read about its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Symptoms
Severe cases of obstructive crystals in urine, are more common in male cats than females, as they have a narrower urethra. A cat with this condition is in constant discomfort and exhibits the following signs and symptoms.
  • Urinating several times a day
  • Straining during urination
  • Passing very little or no urine
  • Visible traces of blood in the urine
  • Painful, irritable and enlarged bladder
  • Vomiting with loss of appetite
  • Crying around the litter box (this means the cat wants to pass urine but is not able to)
Since the toxic wastes generated in the body, is eliminated through the urine, accumulation of urine in the cat's body can be fatal and can cause death by kidney failure.
Causes
All cats with crystals in urine, exhibit similar symptoms. Therefore, it is essential to determine the exact cause behind the symptoms, through proper diagnostic procedures. Here are the major causes.

Diet
Since formation of crystals or stones in the urinary tract depend on the urine pH levels and its mineral constituents, your cat's diet can go a long way in preventing or aggravating the condition. For example, too much consumption of magnesium is not advisable. It also depends on how many times a day your cat is allowed to feed.

Stress
Another factor that increases the risk of urine crystal formation, is stress. So, it is essential to see to it that your cat is not exposed to stress or trauma of any kind. Stress could be due to illness or an effect of the cat's immediate surroundings. A cheerful cat is always healthy.

Congenital defects
Sometimes, even minor congenital defects in the bladder or other parts of the cat's urinary tract, can increase the risk of urine crystal formation.

Cancer
Cancers and tumors in the urinary tract, also implies higher risk of crystals in the urine.

In addition to the above causes, there are several other factors that influence crystal formation in the urine or the bladder. These include side effects of medications, genetics, urinary tract infections, and frequency of urination.
Diagnosis
A physical examination of the cat's bladder, can diagnose urine crystals. However, there are several diagnostic procedures available. One of them is urinalysis, where the urine pH is measured and the urine is tested for causative agents such as bacteria. Other diagnostic procedures include X-ray photography, ultrasound imaging, urine cultures, and radiography.
Methods of Treatment
The most effective method of treatment is arrived at, after taking the exact cause into consideration. Here are some methods of treatment for this condition.

Antibiotics and Antispasmodics
One method of treatment is by administering antibiotics, even though it is meant for crystal formation due to bacterial infection. Antispasmodics counter muscle contractions, helps in muscle relaxation, and relieves pain.

Increased Water Intake
More intake of water dilutes the urine, which facilitates treatment. Also canned diets are highly recommended.

Modifications in Diet
Changes in your cat's diet can help in maintaining the pH level of urine and restore the balance, if needed. Also, there are specific diets designed to dissolve the crystals, without the need for any medications. Not only this, these diets also bring down the amount of the crystal forming constituents in the urine.

Altered Feeding Habits
You should feed your cat a little, many times a day. If your cat is in the habit of eating only one or two times a day, changing the feeding habits of your cat can also help.

Excessive accumulation of toxins in the blood can lead to severe complications and hence, should not be left untreated. In rare cases, the urinary bladder may rupture, causing urine to reach the abdominal cavity. This condition, termed peritonitis, can be fatal.
This was about the causes of crystals in cat urine, and the possible complications. It is important to monitor your cat's health closely, to prevent the occurrence or relapse of this condition. After all, your pet needs your love, care and attention, besides other things, to stay healthy. So, take care of your cat!
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.