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What is Crystals in the Urine?

Cats who present with crystalluria need to be seen by a veterinarian in order to properly identify the crystals and diagnose any underlying conditions that may be causing them to form.

The development of crystals in the urine, or crystalluria, occurs when normal minerals that float in the urine bind to each other. Crystalluria often occurs as part of another condition. The microscopic crystals have the appearance of fine sand. Though crystalluria isn't always indicative of an accompanying condition or illness, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney stones, the formation of crystals puts the cat at an increased risk of these problems.

 

Crystals in the Urine Average Cost

From 345 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Crystals in the Urine in Cats

Though the main symptom of crystalluria is the appearance of fine crystals in freshly-expelled urine, other symptoms from accompanying conditions may also occur. Because crystals in the urine that are passed in the litter box may be missed by pet owners, other symptoms may help pet owners discover something is wrong with their cat. These symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Passing only small amounts of urine
  • Frequent licking of the genitalia
  • Urinating outside of the litter box, such as on the bed or carpet
  • Depression
  • Irritation
  • Passing no urine, which is a medical emergency
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Causes of Crystals in the Urine in Cats

Crystalluria may be caused by the following:

  • Oversaturation of minerals in the urine
  • High concentration of crystallogenic substances in urine
  • Dehydration
  • Off-balance urine pH that is too acidic or alkaline
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Breed disposition, such as Persian, Burmese or Himalayan
  • Medications
  • Radiology diagnostic agents, such as radiopaque contrast agents
  • Improper diet
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Diagnosis of Crystals in the Urine in Cats

The veterinarian will ask for the cat's health history, which will include any recent symptoms of urinary problems. The veterinarian will examine the cat and look for any irritation in the genital area. Because crystalluria may indicate the presence of bladder or kidney stones, the veterinarian will also gently feel the cat's abdomen, feeling for the presence of any large stones.

A urinalysis is the best test in order to identify crystalluria. The four most common types of crystals, calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine, can be isolated and identified with a urinalysis. The urinalysis will also test the urine pH, look for the presence of any white blood cells, bacteria, and protein in the urine.

If the veterinarian wants to take a sterile urine sample, this is done with a procedure called cystocentesis. During cystocentesis, a needle will be inserted through the cat's skin into the bladder. The veterinarian will take a sample of the urine before withdrawing the needle. A sterile urine sample allows the veterinarian to look at the urine without any contamination from the cat's urethra or genitals.

An ultrasound and x-ray may also be performed. These tests will help identify any abnormalities in the bladder, kidneys or urinary tract and look for the presence of any larger stones that could pose a medical emergency.

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Treatment of Crystals in the Urine in Cats

Fluid Therapy

If the cat is severely dehydrated, it may be necessary for the veterinarian to give the cat fluids intravenously. If the cat is just mildly dehydrated, increasing fluids orally is essential. These extra fluids will help flush out the cat's bladder, improving its concentration. It's important that the cat is given fresh water several times a day as cats may reject water that is too old or has debris in it.

Modified Diet

Cats should be fed a diet that consists of both wet and dry food. Dry foods are too high in some minerals and increase the risk of the cat developing crystals. The veterinarian may also place the cat on a diet aimed at correcting the cat's pH levels. It takes approximately two months to correct levels via dietary changes. During this time, it's important to keep the cat well-hydrated to prevent additional crystals from forming.

Medications

Because crystals can irritate the cat's bladder and cause an infection, the cat may be prescribed an antibiotic in order to prevent an infection from occurring. Pain relievers may also be prescribed if the crystals are causing the cat significant pain.

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Recovery of Crystals in the Urine in Cats

The veterinarian will want to see the cat every three to six months in order to perform a urinalysis to ensure that crystals are no longer present in the urine and that the urine pH has returned to normal. Any other accompanying conditions, such as a urinary tract infection or bladder stones, will also need to be monitored. If symptoms don't improve or worsen, the cat should immediately be seen by a veterinarian in order to determine if kidney stones have formed that may be stopping the flow of urine.

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Crystals in the Urine Average Cost

From 345 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$300

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Crystals in the Urine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Feline

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Full Bladder, Can'T Jump, Not Eating

We noticed last Tuesday night (10 days ago) our cat was not active like normal. Wednesday morning he had been laying in the bathroom sink all night. Wasn't active again, we took him to the vet. They kept him for bladder crystals. Did a catheter and gave him antibiotics. They kept him until Saturday morning in which we took him home. He still wasn't walking, eyes not focusing, urine slowly dripping, and not eating. He went back to the vet Tuesday and has been there since. They are ready to put him down. Say his bladder is paralysed. When they put pressure on his full bladder, urine will leak.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I am sorry that that has happened to your cat. Unfortunately, some cats do metabolize dry food differently, and can have significant urinary problems.

Oct. 19, 2020

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Bean

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Cat

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Pulling

I adopted a five-year-old spayed cat who had some issues with pulling her hair out on her legs, belly, and tail. The vet did treat with a steroid shot and a two-week antibiotic because she had some scabs on her belly. She still pulls hair out and she doesn’t seem all right to me. I noticed chunks in the litter box that were the size and shape of dice. They didn’t seem like dissolved litter. My vet suggested $360 of allergy testing. I’m looking for a second opinion. Thank you.

Sept. 20, 2018

Bean's Owner

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Juliette

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Calico

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My 6yr old female was jumping from one litter box to another. Afterwards I noticed she had blood in her urine. Took her to the vet, the hydrated her and did a urine test. They gave her an antibiotic shot and also Clavamox. I also put her on a special urinary food. She was doing a little bit better but the blood is back in her urine. The vet called and said that the urinalysis came back with crystals. I've changed her diet and she finished all her medication but she still has blood in her urine and it's been about three weeks. I'm really worried for her. Please help.

Sept. 17, 2018

Juliette's Owner

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Pepper

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Short haired house cat

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9 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Licking At Genitals
Not Drinking
Low Urination
Initial Great Urination After Vet

I took my male cat into the vet this past Thursday (it's now Sunday) and he was kept overnight and treated for crystals. x-ray showed no stones. Vet kept him on IV and catheter. They removed catheter about noon Saturday and he was peeing on his own. The IV was left in a few hours longer. We picked him up at 6 pm Friday. Once back home, he filled the litter box with pee. Kept going again and again. We have Rx antibiotic, antispasmodic and special food. After his initial massive amounts of urination, we cleaned the box. He had one very small pee Saturday,and so far I only see a very small pee from this morning. His tummy feels firm again. Could a uti or spasms from the catheter be causing this or are we likely looking at another blockage? I'm not sure what to do. I don't want anything bad to happen to him. His vet opens early tomorrow morn (Monday). I'm concerned. He had this happen some years back and I don't recall there being any sudden reduction in his urination following treatment. He is eating fine, but not drinking. I do remember last we had him on vet recommended soft food, he drank very little, but all seemed well. On quality, hard food, he drank quite a bit of water. But we're on soft food presently. When selecting "severity" below I chose "serious" but I don't know if that's accurate in light of the above. What can we expect following treatment? Is this normal?

Sept. 16, 2018

Pepper's Owner

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Molly

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Maine Coon

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating, Urinating Odd Places

My10 year okd female cat has been urinating in odd places, her bed, the dig’s bed, and a couple days ago I noticed a small spot if blood where she urinated. She has gone from 18 pounds to 10 pounds since spring, even though her appetite was good. The vet put her on an antibiotic a week ago. All her blood work came back good except infection. Now she is not eating well for the last day, just nibbles....even water intake is down. What is the next step? Like I said only had blood work.

Sept. 6, 2018

Molly's Owner

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Maximilian Bartholemew

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Bombay Cat

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite
Lethargic
Not Urinating
Isolating Self

I had noticed that Max was peeing outside of the Box several months ago and I thought it was the litter so everything got changed and he stopped for several months. Recently he started again so I thought well it must be time to change the litter. My 2 female cats didn't seem to mind. Well at the end of May it was getting worse. he was peeing everywhere. Then I noticed blood in his urine and it had a different smell than normal. I called the Vet and took him in on May 19. They did x-rays, urine sample. There were no stones and the Dr said he had a bladder infection and prescribed antibiotics and told he he would call in the morning to let me know if there was anything else wrong and if there were crystals in his urine. He called and said no crystals just the Bladder infection so we will hold off on changing his diet but he wanted to see him back on May 29. We went and Max was his stubborn self. They did more urine samples and x-rays. No stones but he notice a little blood. I hadn't noticed it after he was prescribed the medication but it may not have been visible. He said he would call the next day. When they brought Max out, I noticed he was acting a little different. He was curled up in the cage and didn't seem his self. He usually cries a little bit in the car but he seemed off and I just thought he had a rough time at the Dr's. Got home and he seemed fine. Played with one of my other cats, ate, slept and whatever else cats like to do. I went to bed and around 12am I was awoken by someone vomiting a lot. I got up and it was Max. It was food so I figured he ate too fast. Couple hours later vomit...then 3 more times and the more he vomited the watery it got. When the Dr called in the morning with the results he said Max has crystals and we need to change his diet. I asked about the vomiting and he didn't seem too concerned about that. He said sometimes the antibiotics can upset their stomach so I said ok we'll change his diet. I bought all this UTI food. As the day went on, this was Saturday the 30th, Max seemed to disappear a lot. I kept finding him under my bed. He didn't eat with the other cats and he was peeing outside the box still. Max has not eaten in 2 days and he has stopped peeing and became very lethargic. He just wants to lay down. I heard him make a couple of loud noises and I thought maybe the crystals hurt him or something. Well Sunday May 31 I went to sleep and heard a squealing noise around midnight. I got up and found Max in the bathroom throwing up basically nothing but making a awful sound. That is why I am sitting here at 4:30 am typing this. He vomited a couple more times but was mostly liquid and foam. He has been drinking water but still not eating and we are waiting till around 7:30 am to call the vet. I am very worried about him and I hope it is not too serious, but I think it is.

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Sphinx

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American Shorthair

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Peeing Outside Litter Box

About a year ago my cat stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. I took him to the vet and they were worried about his liver. So he was put on denamarin for life. I had to take my cat in every week for about six weeks and the liver values were going up. So fast forward to about Christmas time 2019 and my cat has started peeing randomly in different places. I have three cardboard cat scratchers on the floor that he Peed on. He Peed in a suitcase when we were getting ready to go on a weekend trip.So I took him back to the vet they did a urinalysis didn’t see any thing going on no urinary tract infection so they gave him an antibiotic shot. Things seemed OK then like the next couple of days he Peed on some blankets on the bed. So I just thought I’d give it some more time put another litter box out clean the litter boxes like 3 to 4 times a day so they were pristine. He is still peeing outside the box. I am at my wits end this is very stressful to have to clean this all the time. I don’t know if my vet doesn’t know what he’s doing and maybe I need to get a second opinion? When my vet gave my cat a physical there wasn’t anything on the outside that was wrong the urinalysis didn’t say anything was wrong and they’ve given him a blood test before and nothing was wrong! So I don’t know what to do! is it behavioral, is it medical!? I really can’t afford a lot and I don’t know if my vet is gouging me out of money and just wanting me to keep coming back multiple times or if they should’ve been able to tell what’s been going on through a urinalysis and blood test? Anyone else had the same issue with an older cat? He eats fine he urinates a good amount he drinks water and doesn’t seem to be straining when he pees. Please help!!!!!

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Tybalt

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American Shorthair

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Straining To Urinate

My cat was diagnosed with uti. I have to leave on vacation tomorrow. He is on medication. I just want to get an opinion on how dangerous it could be for me to leave. He has a sitter aware of the problem and of his need of meds. Please someone comment. I'm terrified and desperate He has shown a small improvement as he is no longer peeing everywhere but he is still going frequently to the litterbox. Help

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Geogre

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tabby

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Straining To Urinate

My cat is 4 year old. It began when he was in the litter tray for nearly 2 minutes. Took him to the vet. He had surgery 2 months ago to remove the crystals costing £500. Went well, now he is struggling to wee again. Will he have to have surgery again?

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Spooki

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domestic short hair - Black

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Ate 2X The Amount - With Cheap Food
Crystal In Urine

My cat, Spooki, has urinary crystals (We realized this after months of her urinating on our bed everyday out of nowhere, and at some point I saw "glitter" in each pile of urine). I just changed her entire diet to wet cat food beginning today, and going to see if i notice any changes in her urine within the next month. She has lost majority of her hair from the middle of her back all the way to her back paws. She is all Black, so her hair loss is extremely noticeable. I had her on cheap, cheap dry food; and I fear this is the main reason for the crystals forming (due to lack of moisture, and bad ingredients, not providing her with the right, or enough, minerals) and her hair loss. Throughout her 4 years of life she has been on high quality and high protein dry food; 3 out of the 4 years, and wet food on the occasion; about a year ago, I started having money problems (due to a change in jobs), and unfortunately I switch to meow mix, or whatever was cheap. I am curious if she has allergies, or possibly her body and digestive system was used to the high quality and limited ingredients, and then when I switch to just junk cat food (very low quality, and lots of unnecessary ingredients; which are mainly preservatives), that is when all of this had started. I wonder if changing her diet back to high quality food will help with the urinary crystals, and the hair loss (especially if it due to me switching to cheaper food. I will update about her progress. If I don't see any positive changes in the next month, then I will be making a vet appointment. If you have any advice, please share. I am going to do whatever takes to get my baby girl back to her healthy, shiny, and happy self.

Crystals in the Urine Average Cost

From 345 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$300

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