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What is Particles in the Urine?

Particles in the urine of cats can be an indication of degeneration, inflammation, epithelial irritation, or renal tubular irritation of the kidneys. A hypothesis of the cause of the systemic disorder can be determined through a urinalysis, as structures are often embedded into the cast at the time they are formed. There are five types of urine casts a cat could have and each one links the cats to an underlying condition.

Particles in the urine in cats can appear on a urinalysis, or exam of the urine, in almost non-existent numbers, which is normal. However, when there is more than just one or two particles in a single field of view (under a microscope), particles in the urine of your cat is the indication of a pathological problem. Veterinarians refer to urinary particles as casts. When the urine contains an abnormally high number of these casts, the term cylindruria is used. Cylindruria is a clinical indication that your cat is having problems with her kidneys, as casts take the form of the kidney’s collective tubes before they reach the bladder. 

Symptoms of Particles in the Urine in Cats

The symptoms associated with particles in the urine in cats depends on the underlying cause of the urine casts. Symptoms may increase in severity as this condition worsens.

  • Dark, cloudy urine
  • Reduced volume of urine
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Excessive drinking (polydipsia)
  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shock


Hyaline Casts

Hyaline casts are composed of mucoprotein and plasma protein that indicates a mild form of renal irritation. 

Cellular Casts

Cellular casts are subcategorized into tubular epithelial casts, red blood cell casts, and white blood cell casts. Epithelial casts contain cells from renal epithelium and are seen in acute nephritis and renal tubule degeneration. Red blood cells casts are an indication of a hemorrhage to the tubules. White blood cell casts are due to an infectious or inflammatory process causing a degeneration of the tubular cells. 

Granular Casts

Granular casts contain pieces of granules and indicate acute nephritis or severe kidney disease.  

Fatty Lipid Casts

Fatty lipid casts contain refractive fat droplets and indicate renal disease. 

Waxy Casts

Waxy casts are rare but indicate a cat has chronic to severe tubular degeneration. 

Causes of Particles in the Urine in Cats

The potential causes of particles in the urine in cats are numerous. The condition can be due to any of the following: 

  • Trauma to the renal organ
  • Glomerular disease 
  • Infectious disease (Leptospira spp., Ehrlichiosis, FIP) 
  • Renal Inflammation 
  • Myoglobulinuria (rhabdomyolysis) 
  • Hemoglobinuria (intravascular hemolysis) 
  • Renal vessel thrombosis 
  • Low cardiac output 
  • Hypovolemia 
  • Dehydration 
  • Renal Ischemia 
  • Nephrotoxic drug 
  • Toxin 

Diagnosis of Particles in the Urine in Cats

Particles in the urine in cats can be found on a urinalysis and is part of a diagnostic plan the veterinarian previously set for the symptoms a cat is displaying. A urinalysis is the examination of urine. Your veterinarian will likely collect a sample from your pet in the veterinary clinic. Casts dissolve in alkaline urine within two hours, so a fresh sample is important. If your cat is unable to give a sample on her own, the bladder may be palpated with pressure applied or a catheter may be placed. The sample will then be placed in the centrifuge to separate the sediment from the fluid and the veterinarian will take a dropper full of sediment to be examined under the microscope. 

The doctor will be able to detect which type of cast your cat has by the shape and color of the particle. The type of cast identified, number, and additional abnormalities found in the urine sample will clue the veterinarian in to the cause of your cat’s symptoms. 

Treatment of Particles in the Urine in Cats

Treatment of particles in the urine in cats includes restoring hydration and administration of medication required for the underlying condition. Most cats are treated as an outpatient, but if the pet is severely dehydrated, intravenous fluid therapy may be needed. Antibiotics are also a common choice of treatment for urine casts, as infection is not unusual.

Recovery of Particles in the Urine in Cats

Your cat should be able to continue with her regular diet and activities during treatment, unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian. A feline with a history of urinary particles should have access to water 24/7 and keeping the feline hydrated should be the owner’s number one priority. The prognosis for cylindruria is very good for felines who receive adequate veterinary care and treatment. 

Particles in the Urine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Tabby, orange, Domestic longhair
1 year 7mos
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


Left 1yo male longhair orange tabby at home over weekend 2 nights out of town with ample food and water. Cat used my laundry as a litterbox Wednesday. I change litterboxes as soiled, multiple times/day. Last night (Saturday) 2am my cat was using the litterbox every 5-10 min and jumped in sink, small dime size volume hematuria. Collected urine sample. Cat continued straining to urinate, vocal, listless. Abdomen slightly guarded, bladder did not feel distended upon palpation. Cat knocked over laundry hamper and climbed in it to hide. Evaluated urethral orifice and observed slight edema and constricted state of orifice. Gave 1/8c ground up dry food (Evolution grain free chicken) mixed with 1c filtered water every 2 hrs (4 times total). Cat remains overzealous about food and raced to his spot. Cat drank all watered down food offered. 9am looked in litterbox. Cat frequently urinated a large amount (4"diameter pool) every 15-20 min. Observed that cat's backside remained wet with urine, examined urethral orifice and found that the orifice was no longer edematous or constricted but open. Cat no longer straining to urinate. Urine passed upon squatting. Continued to give fresh watered down food. Cat continued to drink the watered down food for the past 6 hours and when offered again at hour 8, he didn't drink it. He drank out of water glass. Cat is chasing/playing with toys by himself and climbing on high surfaces, batting items off countertop. After 4 hours, Cat groomed himself normally and settled down. Cat is now curled up sleeping on the couch next to me, calm temperament, normal respiratory and heart rate. Has not visited litterbox in 3 hours. I am only concerned that he has not defecated in 24 hours. Should I still take him to the vet appointment in the morning or will wet diet, cranberry extract and cosequin suffice to prevent further episodes? Ddx?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
There are a few possible causes for what you described (in good detail) including urinary tract infections, urinary stones, trauma, inflammation, genital tract issues among other causes; if you are seeing an improvement and the swelling around the urethral orifice is decreased you could keep an eye on him however I would recommend you still speaking with your Veterinarian and getting urinalysis done to be on the safe side in case other treatment is required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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