How to Treat and Prevent Crystals in Cat Urine

The condition when you see crystals in cat urine is known as crystalluria. It is a medical condition in which crystals are expelled into the urine. And it is not synonymous with kidney stones or any other similar conditions.

However, there is an increased risk for kidney stones in animals that show crystals in their urine. Crystals form when in animals which urine has recently been or is supersaturated with crystallogenic substances.

With that in mind, without getting too much into the medicine and biology of the condition, today we will talk about how to identify, treat, and prevent crystals in cat urine. Proper identification is key for finding a medical strategy on how to treat the condition.

What are the symptoms of crystalluria?

The condition can appear in animals with anatomically and functionally normal urinary tract. In this case, it is usually harmless because the crystals are eliminated before they grow large enough.

The most easily detectable symptom of the condition is the presence of crystals in freshly expelled urine. And there can also be symptoms that are related to kidney stones.

What causes crystals in cat urine?

In most cases, the cause of crystals in your cat’s urine is consistent and frequent consumption of dry cat food. Due to the lack of moisture in the kibble, commercial dry cat foods can cause your cat to get dehydrated, and her urine becomes too concentrated.

In addition, plant-based ingredients in dry cat foods can cause urine to become too alkaline. When you combine those two factors, alkaline, and concentrated urine, cats become prone to forming crystals.

With that in mind, here are the main causes of occurrence of crystalluria.

  • Your cat is not drinking enough water
  • Consumption of only dry cat food
  • The concentration of crystallogenic substances in the urine
  • Urine pH if off balance, meaning it is too alkaline or too acidic
  • Inflammation of the lower urinary tract
  • Medications like sulfonamides

How to diagnose crystals in cat urine?

If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of crystals in her urine, you should schedule an appointment with a veterinarian. Your vet will examine your cat, first with a physical examination, and then an X-ray or ultrasound if necessary.

During the physical examination, a vet can touch your feline friend to see if they feel a thicker bladder. You might also be asked to provide urine samples and last, but not least, vets can take an ultrasound or X-ray of your cat to see if there are any stones in their urine.

How to treat?

Treatment of the condition involves eliminating or controlling the causes and risk factors associated with crystals in urine.

In addition, treatment strives to minimize crystals by increasing urine volume, encouraging frequent urination, complete urination, and modifying the diet of the cat. In some cases, veterinarians may suggest drug therapy as part of the treatment plan.

Here are a few ways your vet will try to treat the condition:

  • Modify the cat’s diet
  • Eliminate and control the causes of urine crystals
  • Increase the volume and frequency of urine through increased hydration
  • Prescribing medications to balance the pH value of your cat’s urine

After a certain period of time, your vet will ask to analyze the cat’s urine again. It is crucial that you continue watching and managing the situation, since crystalluria can contribute to the formation and growth of kidney stones.

How to prevent the formation of crystals?

One of the best ways to treat crystalluria is to prevent the formation of crystals in the first place. The best line of defense is a balanced raw meat diet that will eliminate crystals and prevent them from recurring.

Raw meat diet also encourages the natural pH balance of your urine. And because raw meat contains a high amount of water, your cat has more diluted urine that is not prone to forming crystals.

Here are some tips for how to prevent crystals in cat urine:

  • Feed your cat small meals frequently instead of large meals
  • Provide fresh water in different parts of your apartment
  • Try a water fountain to grab your cat’s attention and make her drink water
  • Offer chicken broth, which is more nutritious and appealing for your cat. It is a great alternative to water
  • Reduce stress in your cat’s life by reducing major changes in routine

Frequently asked questions

Can my cat’s food cause crystals in urine?

As mentioned previously, one of the most important risk factors is dry food. There are many other factors that contribute to the formation of crystals in urine, but it is important to feed your cat a complete and balanced diet. Always make sure that her diet is appropriate for her life stage.

Can wet food be used as a treatment for crystals?

Some veterinarians recommend using high-quality wet food that increases hydration as a treatment for crystals in urine.

However, it is also important to understand that alone will not help always. It is imperative that you take a multipronged approach for the treatment of the condition. Hydration is even more important for cats who tend not to drink water.

What is the best food for urinary crystals?

There is no definite answer to this question. Every cat is different, and every situation is different. Talk with your veterinarian to find a proven therapeutic diet for urinary tract care.

This type of diet and food can help reduce crystals in cats prone to developing them. In some cases, veterinarians also prescribe food that can manage and dissolve crystals and stones.

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