can you see crystals in cat urine

It’s not uncommon to see crystals in cat or dog urine. In fact, crystals are so common as to be considered normal in some pets. When the crystals become overly abundant or when abnormal types of crystals present themselves, however, they may cause problems or indicate the presence of disease.

What are the clinical signs of crystalluria?

Crystalluria by itself is not associated with any clinical signs. Microscopic urinary crystals are painless until they aggregate to form larger stones inside the urinary tract.

You may notice symptoms of lower urinary tract inflammation if crystalluria coexists with bladder stones or another urinary illness, such as feline idiopathic cystitis. Cats that are affected may strain to urinate, urinate outside of the litter box, pass small amounts of urine frequently, or have blood in their urine.

What is crystalluria?

Crystalluria refers to the presence of crystals in the urine. Minerals and other substances that would typically dissolve in urine make up these crystals; crystals form when these substances coalesce, or join together, into crystals rather than remaining dissolved in the urine. Although crystalluria can be a serious medical condition, it can also be an unintentional discovery with no bearing on the cat’s health.

Urinary crystals can be found in cat urine in many different forms, but the two most prevalent kinds are magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite) and calcium oxalate crystals.

In some cases, crystalluria is simply an artifact of handling. Urine that would typically remain dissolved can precipitate out of the urine and form crystals as it cools (for instance, if a urine sample was chilled before analysis or left to sit at room temperature). You can dissolve more sugar in hot tea than in cold tea, as you have probably noticed if you have ever attempted to mix an extremely sweet batch of sweet tea. This is also true for other substances that are typically dissolved in urine. If crystalluria appears after the cat has expelled their urine and the temperature has started to drop, it is not dangerous or medically significant.

However, in other instances, crystalluria might be linked to an issue that increases your cat’s risk of developing urinary stones. The presence of crystals in these cats’ urine could be a sign of a high concentration of substances that form crystals, abnormally concentrated urine, an unusually high or low urine pH, a diet high in particular substances, or the ingestion of certain toxins. Therefore, in order to decide whether treatment is required, it is crucial that your veterinarian ascertain whether your cat’s crystalluria is clinically significant.

Recovery and Management of Urine Crystals and Bladder Stones in Cats

Recuperation from bladder stones and urine crystals in cats varies depending on the kind of stone and your cat’s medical background.

Since there are numerous commercial diets intended to treat and/or prevent the most common types of crystals and stones, diet is the most widely used management strategy. Another tactic is to drink more water because concentrated urine increases the likelihood of crystal or stone formation. One effective way to ensure that you are drinking more water is to feed canned food.


What does crystals in cat urine look like?

In general, these crystals look like a square with an “X” through the middle when viewed under a microscope. Since struvite crystals develop so commonly in cats, most cat foods incorporate magnesium into their formulas, helping to make cats’ urine more acidic.

Are crystals in urine visible?

These crystals are brown spheres with spiky thorns. They almost resemble small bugs. They’re often found in alkaline urine, but they can also be seen in normal urine. Sometimes ammonium biurate crystals only appear because the urine sample is old or has been poorly preserved.

Can cats pass crystals on their own?

Female cats are often able to pass small stones, either on their own or with a flushing procedure called voiding urohydropropulsion. Male cats, however, are at higher risk for a urinary blockage, even with very small stones.

How do you test for bladder crystals in cats?

Some bladder stones can be palpated or felt with the fingers through the abdominal wall. However, failure to feel bladder stones does not rule them out because many are too small to be detected this way. Most bladder stones are visible on radiographs (X-rays), or by an ultrasound exam of the bladder.