Evaluation of crystals in cat urine may help detect underlying disorders. What causes the formation of crystals in cat urine? Here is more including diagnosis and treatment of crystallization of cat urine.
Crystals in cats also known as Feline Crystalluria is a medical condition which involves the formation of crystals in the cat’s urine. These crystals which are microscopic in size tend to appear like fine sand and often occur as part of or because of other conditions. However, contrary to belief, finding your cat has Crystalluria doesn’t necessarily mean signs of lower urinary tract disease; these crystals may be an incidental finding or can also be associated with urinary tract infection.
Although Crystalluria isn’t a sign of illness, studies have shown that cat with this conditions are at higher risk of catching other kidney issues and the crystals may irritate the bladder wall. So going to the vet is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment to avoid life threatening situation, this is especially in male felines where the crystal can obstruct the urethra by “forming little crystalline-matrix plugs, blocking the urethra” uroliths, making the feline incapable of urinating which is life threating.
- Causes of Crystalluria
- Urine PH Imbalance
- Improper Diet
- Concentration of Crystallogenic
- Signs of Crystals in Cat Urine
- Collecting a Urine Sample from Your Cat
- Diagnosis of Crystalluria in Cats
- Treatment and Management of Crystals in Cat Urine
- Complications if Crystals in Cats is not treated
- Living and Management
Causes of Crystalluria
The microscopic crystals forming in the urine come about when minerals are super-saturated in the urine which later turns into fine sand-like crystals. There are many scientific types of research about its cause, but the particular predisposing factor for the cause of Crystalluria has not been fully understood. However, there are still several underlying causes attributed to crystals in cats.
Crystalluria may be brought on by the following:
Crystalluria can be due to drugs or medication; e.g. sulphadiazine, primidone or acyclovir. In which if wrongly diagnosed or used in excess and with the influence of various factors can cause renal damage by crystallizing in the tubular Lumina.
Urine PH Imbalance
Off balanced urine PH either if it’s too high alkaline or acidity may lead to Crystalluria, so both levels need to be balanced
Poor nutritional diet can influence evidence of Crystalluria i.e. Crystalluria affects cats that consume solely dry food diet more than those that have mixed diet. Significant changes in feeding routine also contribute to this medical condition.
Concentration of Crystallogenic
Concentration of water and urine plus the rate of urine excretion influences the concentration of Crystallogenic bodies in the urine.
- If the Crystallogenic agencies in the urine lack solubility
- Consumption of food supplements can also lead to crystals in cat’s urine
- Genetic make-up in some cat breeds makes them more prone to get calcium oxalate crystals e.g. Feline Persian and Himalayan
- Transient super saturation of the urine
- Standard pathological conditions associated with minority cases of Crystalluria:
- Hypereosinophilic syndrome
- Acute uric acid nephropathy
Signs of Crystals in Cat Urine
Crystalluria doesn’t contribute to the development of many clinical signs, and one of its signs is crystals in the freshly passed urine that can be visible. But this sign is hard to notice because the expelled urine is mixed with the litter kit and thus the sight for the tiny crystals is often missed.
However, there are some other signs that can be attributed to the severity of the condition, the pathological conditions associated with Crystalluria and other Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Knowing all these signs is helpful. They include:
- Irregular or Abnormal urine patterns
- Frequent urination
- Unusual licking of the genital area
- Difficulty or strain in urinating
- Passing no urine – dangerous sign
- Sudden increase in thirst
- The cat is less active
Collecting a Urine Sample from Your Cat
Now and then it’s good to check out your cat’s urine, and as you have seen on the above topic, the process isn’t easy. However, there are various ways to you can collect the urine sample for a checkup or take to the vet for an intensive check.
The best way is to use an inert or non-absorb litter beads that look like regular litter but doesn’t soak up the urine. Later after the cat has peed, you collect the urine by use of the pipette provided and put in a test tube. The process takes about 5-6 minutes, and the good thing is that the end urine sample is not Friday.
Use a litmus paper to see the acidity or alkaline concentration of the sample, and you can also look with your eyes to see if there are any obvious issues and lastly it’s good to take the sample to the vet even if you notice nothing.
The cost of the inert litter beads or non-absorb beads ranges between $7- $12 per 8-pounds and they come with both a pipette and test tube. Here are the examples:
- Katkor Non-Absorb Cat Litter
- Catrine Cat Urine Collection Kit
Diagnosis of Crystalluria in Cats
What happens is that the vet first uses a microscope to check if there is crystal content in the urine sediment. If the crystals are evident the vet will need to perform further tests, this is a proper evaluation of the cat’s urine crystals to determine its estimation mineral composition, the underlying cause of the Crystalluria, the severity of the case and also monitor the cat for evidence of uroliths “Bladder stones.”
These include tests of protein contents, crystal content of the urine sediment, the urine PH level, and blood contamination. These processes help diagnose the crystal father and also find out their underlying causes.
The vet also uses the cat’s medical and parental history; this includes the cat’s change in behavior and noticeable symptoms you wrote down. While Ultrasounds or X-ray on the cat’s abdomen are used to detect bladder stones in the cat’s urethra
Treatment and Management of Crystals in Cat Urine
Treatment involves eliminating the crystals from the bladder, controlling the underlying cause of the crystals, managing Crystalluria associated risk factors and preventing their further formation. The vet with the proper assessment of the situation will also make sure to stop the discomfort or pain that may come with crystals in the cat’s urine. Most of these forms of treatment resemble ways of managing Crystalluria.
- The most shared and notable way of treating Crystalluria is increasing the cat’s water intake; this means also reducing dry foods in their diet schedule and introducing more wet foods. By doing this, there is an increase in urine volumes thus the bladder flushes out the urine. It’s commonly known as fluid therapy.
- Balance diet is also essential as it will ensure the PH levels are moderate; acidity or alkalinity levels are not high. You can also modify the cat’s diet if you notice the PH levels aren’t balanced through prescription dieting.
- Encourage your cat’s regular and complete voiding of urine by making sure there are an adequate number of litter boxes placed in quiet and safe places.
- Because sometimes can the crystals bring about pain and irritation to the cat’s bladder or even cause infection, medications are also important for this type of situations t; they include pain relievers and antibiotics.
Take your cat to the vet for a checkup during the treatment/ management process to see how the situation is developing.
Complications if Crystals in Cats is not treated
Crystalluria is usually harmless to functional anatomically urinary track; this is because the crystals are flushed of through the urine before they increase in number and interfere with urinary operations. However if left untreated it can lead to health several risks; they include:
- Irritating bladder walls, and because their lack of antibiotics use, the cat might be vulnerable to disease-causing infections
- There will be a formation of crystalline matrix plugs blocking the urethra- meaning no urine flow
- Bladder or kidney stones can also occur
- Urolithiasis which is a stone-like formation can occur.
All the above are reasons why X-ray or ultrasounds are needed. You may not know the extent of crystal formation. And would be more expensive in treatment because it will require surgery for the removal of the stones
Living and Management
Food and water consumption is the primary area where you should observe so as to minimize the chances of Crystalluria. There should be an adequate placement of litter boxes. Ensure the cats eat food that promotes urine flow. Minimize the change in feeding routine. Ensure the cats has a substantial intake of water.