Guest Post: Coping with a cat with bladder crystals

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest post comes from Leah and her cat Frazzle.

Having had a to deal with a cat with bladder crystals I thought you would like to hear my experiences to help you deal with this situation if it arises.

Bladder crystals become an emergency when they get stuck as they block the urethra and cause the bladder to fill, left this can cause kidney or nerve damage or worst case the bladder to rupture

Bladder crystals are formed from minerals in the cat’s urine, these mineral deposits build up and eventually stick together to form stones

Bladder crystals are more common in neutered males:

  1. due to the narrowness of the urethra
  2. due to the decreased levels of hormones which make urine more acidic


So now I will tell you about my story…

I had started to notice my cat Frazzle had started to wee up my lovely red velvet curtains!!!! Which he had never done before and also that he was going to the toilet a lot but not seeming to do that much wee. Sometimes the wee seemed a little red and he was constantly washing his bits. Then one day he went off his food, he can be a little fussy so we thought nothing of it, then next day he hadn’t moved from where he sat and seemed very dull, so we took him to the vets, the vet palpated his stomach area and he let out a little yelp. The vet said his bladder was very full and rushed him straight in to unblock him.

The next day I went back into collect him, took him home and noticed his back legs were soaking wet, I thought that’s odd but perhaps they has just gave him a quick clean, I quickly noticed that he was dripping wee and he was rushed back to the vets, the vet squeezed him and said his bladder was still full, he took a sample and it was very red brown and was concerned that he may have kidney damage. He was also concerned that because his bladder had got soo full he had damaged his nerve and he had become incontinent.

He was took in put on a drip and a catheter and we had to hope he got better….

During the week, the nerve was not healing and we were going to visit him at the the weekend in case the worst was to happen. On the Saturday we were due to visit I got a phone call, Frazzle had decided to pull his catheter out.., then I knew he was on the mend, they left it out and by Tuesday he had stopped dripping, his kidney levels were fine, and £500 (approx 750USD or 700 Euros) later (which I didn’t have insurance for so is very important to get!) he was allowed to come home. We then went through 6 months of constant trips to the vets to get unblocked, trying many different things.

First of all he came home with some specialist urinary cat food, you can get this from Royal Canin or Hill’s Science Plan. We gave him both biscuits and wet food, but having 3 other cats, we left normal cat biscuits out daily so they could graze and only gave Frazzle his special food when we were around.

2012-12-08 14.55.39

The vet advised crushing up vitamin C tablets into his food to increase the acidity of his urine but this didn’t work, we tried a vitamin C gel, but this gave him an upset stomach. We tried to syringe water into his mouth and soak his cat biscuits to increase water intake – but he just became very adept at picking the biscuits out!

We were fast running out of options and the only one left was to give him an operation to make his urethra bigger and essentially make him a her. It wasn’t until I was standing at the reception desk and the practice manager said to me have you tried feeding them all the biscuits, it won’t do the others any harm that we may have finally stumbled across the solution. It wasn’t the cheapest option but all four cats graze on these biscuits daily, the only difference is they have a little bit of dandruff as these are low in oils that help the coat – but what’s a little dandruff between friends! Frazzle only has the special wet food as we can watch that he eats this, and he is now living a happy and normal life – albeit a bit odd!

Coping with a cat with bladder crystals 1

So if you see you cat struggling to go or having any cystitis type symptoms, take them straight to the vet, as this can come on very suddenly. If it is confirmed they do have them, there are options out there even if you have more than one cat.

Provided by The Pet Shed – Great pet products

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60 thoughts on “Guest Post: Coping with a cat with bladder crystals

  1. Fozziemum says:

    Poor sisters kitty had to had an operation due to his constant crystal problems..and our ginger girl had a huge problem for months…so no dry kibble and only special tinned food or fresh meat ..nothing worse than seeing pure blood in a litter tray 🙁

  2. billythetimecat says:

    Poor sweetie <3
    What really helps with bladder problems and increases the acidity is adding a few drips of biological apple vinegar in the drinking water. A lot of cats with bladder issues were helped through this simple and cheap trick and no more vet trips!

  3. Polly Tiller says:

    I had a cat , female black and brown tabby, got to the grand age of 19. She had her operation too young. This was 28 years ago. Now the vet doesn’t like to do the spaying until the cat has had her first season. When she was old she started suffering with cystisis. The vet gave her Cystease, which you can buy on the internet. and i got her the Kitzyme vitamin tablets with cranberry in.. She did suffer on and off. I did have her put to sleep when she was 19 becuase she had had enough. She was such a loyal love. All her story is in my autobiography “I Need an Exorcism” x

  4. loisajay says:

    I went through this with my little Teemu. When he spent half a day lying in his litter box, I knew something was wrong. He spent 3 days at the animal hospital/vet’s office for testing/observation. One more test right before surgery showed he was all clear. That was 8 years ago. He remains on Science Diet C/D food and is now 12 years old and going strong. This was a VERY scary thing!

    • Marc-André says:

      Gosh I can only imagine how terrible this must be for cat parents. 🙁 the worst we ever had was blocked anal glands and that was already terrible to watch with Oliver stuck under the bed quite obviously in pain. >.<

  5. onespoiledcat says:

    We know this is a common problem and you’re right – the important thing is to get them to a vet ASAP so they can be properly diagnosed and so they can be treated quickly. These are such dangerous problems to have – thankfully Sam has not experienced this issue and while at 15 years of age he has OTHER issues, crystals isn’t one of them.


    • jebusandandrea says:

      Yes, annoyed at myself to not say that too. You don’t want your pets to block. That is very bad. The bladder can burst. Any signs of straining or painful peeing.Any out of ordinary behavior. Vet visit. I know a guy whose cat’s bladder burst when he was away and someone was watching cat. The sitter wasn’t experienced but gladly the cat pulled through. It’s a long story.

  6. sledpress says:

    This is just what my Torvald is going through, he has not blocked but has inflammation and blood, so thank you Marc for the post, and everyone who gave tips. I am going to try the vinegar in the water immediately.

    One of my old cats, the fabulous outsize pink Maine Coon Apricat, had the sex-change type operation which did solve his problem as it was very stubborn indeed. But I always knew he was a big drag queen. I now buy insurance on them all, but I’d rather never see another cat go through that.

    • Marc-André says:

      Most welcome. I wish you wouldn’t need to use the info just yet but glad it came at the right time to be of use. :). Maybe I should set up a cat forum for us all to discuss all these health aspects 😀

  7. Susan P says:

    My George Bailey cat started having crystals and had a couple of times we had to go to the vet with him. He was a feral cat who made himself at home and moved into our house. To make a long story short, in stead of kibble, we get grain free cat food (Wellness is what he eats now) and we add a few drops of filtered water and about 1/4 teaspoon of diluted Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. He has had no trouble with his bladder or anything else since then.

  8. KDKH says:

    We had wonderful luck with a holistic veterinarian who gave us Chinese herbs to deal with the crystals. It was quick and effective and we were able to continue to give the herbs as a prophylactic measure.

  9. John Holton says:

    We had a lot of experience with this. They can get two kinds of crystals, struvite and oxalate. I learned that when two of my males developed them. What’s good for struvite crystals is bad for oxylase, and vice versa. We had two types of food, one for each type of crystals, and all was fine until the cat who had the oxalate problem also developed struvite crystals, for which we needed a third type of food altogether. Drove us nuts for a while. We had a third cat who was developing crystals, and we gave him the sex change. Th doctor told us it would take a crystal the size of a golf ball to block him up then…

  10. notewords says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. My one cat has similar problems, but since eating the special food it is much better. It’s expensive, but much better than a sick cat. The only problem is trying to keep him away from the dog food…

  11. natjtan says:

    Both my boys have had bladder crystals, both when they were about 3. Mr AJ, hid it until it was too painful and lashed out if you tried to pick him up. A trip to the vets and a few days in hospital with a recommended diet of wet food only. Mr D peed every where, cushions, the sink, the sofa in small amounts and couldn’t settle. It was a Sunday and an expensive trip to the emergency vets! I can’t remember if he stayed overnight or not. The vet said that neither need to continue with wet food and are now both on crunch (AJ’s nearly 13, D’s 10 with no further remissions, except flu and allergies). I do leave out however a large bowl of water and they drink a lot, a lot!

  12. coffeegrounded says:

    Great article. Years ago we had a cat that suffered the same problem.

    Currently we have three cats, one suffers a renal condition. Our vet suggested we simply feed all three the prescription food. All are doing well.

    • Marc-André says:

      Thank you <3 and yes not easy to give prescription food to the right cat in a multi cat household o.o. We went through that when Oli needed to eat special food for two weeks. Vet ended up telling us the same lol

  13. Holly says:

    One of my boys had crystals. We caught it early on and luckily, that saved future vet trips. We were advised, as you were, to switch his food to either Hills or Royal Canin Urinary SO. I opted for Royal Canin, as I trust them more then Hills (Just personal preference). Having 2 other cats, I knew it would be hard to keep Shamrock (the cat with the crystals) from eating their food, so I decided right away to switch them all the the urinary SO, as they’re all males, and I figured it couldn’t hurt. We tried both the wet and dry food. Up until this point, they mainly ate a wet food diet… but none of them cared for the wet Royal Canin Medi-Cal food. Not wanting to completely change what they were used to, I researched wet foods alternatives. I found Wellness, which is grain free and full of veggies for them. So I now give them Wellness wet food in the mornings and the afternoon they get the dry food. We also went out and bought a pet water fountain, which they all love! Shamrock hasn’t had an issue since, and it’s been over 3 years. The other 2 boys are healthy as well.

  14. OMG Stationery says:

    My girl kitty has these, fortunately for girls they are irritating but not as dangerous as they are for boys. She is on Science Diet specially formulated to dissolve the crystals, and this does the job fine and gets her back to normal.

    Of interest, my vet said her crystals were coffin shaped!

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