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Crystals in urine

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
About a week ago my almost 9 year old Norwegian Forest kitty urinated on my bed and my couch. At first I was mad because usually she does that when she's mad and she's trying to make a point, like for example if I go out of town for a couple of days, etc. But it was strange because there was no reason for her to be upset I spent most of my day playing with her. I thought maybe because I'm pregnant she was mad.

The next day I called a vet to ask if there could be something wrong with her, they asked me to take her in for an exam. They determined she has crystals in her urine. I don't really know much about it. They gave me some medication for her and I have to test her again in a couple of weeks. They said if the crystals are not gone by then they will have to do x-rays and see if she has stones in her bladder. I'm a bit concerned. Has anyone's cat had this before? Is my kitty going to be ok?

I have her and another 9 yeard old tabby, I've had them since they were babies and they grew up together and love each other. My son wants a kitten but now that Cleopatra is sick I'm hesitant because I don't want her to get upset with a new cat. She doesn't like anybody but me and pretty much if she's not with me she's on her own but I just don't know how she's gonna feel about another sister plus a baby on the way.
post #2 of 25
I had a male cat with crystals, it was entirely related to what he was eating. Once his diet changed, the crystals went away and he was back to normal. Did your vet mention anything about switching food?
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
No she didn't say anything. I've always fed my cats Iams. For the past couple of years I've been giving them the weight control Iams because they are a bit overweight and not as active as they used to be since they are getting older. What food would you recommend?
post #4 of 25
If your kitty has crystals, the best bet to clear it up and avoid future problems should probably be a urinary diet IMHO.
Did the vet say what type of crystals she has?
Hills C/D works for both types - there are several prescription diets on the market for it...
Many members here have kitties who have had crystals, and keep the condition under control with a diet. A lot of them relapse once they leave the urinary diet...
I would strongly recommend you having a chat with your vet... Crystals can be dangerous if untreated - it can cause blockage and can be deadly in a matter of a couple of days. The problem is much much worst in males, luckily not your case... but still not a situation you want to risk facing...

Also, for good measure, I would put the kitty immediately on wet food only - hopefully she eats wet?
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
She's going to the vet Friday for her shots so I will ask. She loves wet food but she's 16lbs lol so I was trying to avoid wet food because she's gigantic but I will start feeding her that today.

I'm so concerned. I can't imagine my life without her she's my princess if something happens to her I will be so devasted.
post #6 of 25
Originally Posted by diordiva8 View Post
She's going to the vet Friday for her shots so I will ask. She loves wet food but she's 16lbs lol so I was trying to avoid wet food because she's gigantic but I will start feeding her that today.

I'm so concerned. I can't imagine my life without her she's my princess if something happens to her I will be so devasted.
There is a myth that wet food = weight gain.... It is actually the reverse. The best thing you can do for your kitty to lose weight is to put it in a 100% wet diet.
Dry food is very calorie packed... Wet food has a high water content, much less calories per weight, keeps the kitty fuller, and is great for the kidneys and urinary system as well...

If she eats wet, more power to you - you will do her a favor by cutting the dry - both for her weight loss AND urinary issues. With crystals you want to keep her urine as dilute as possible to help to dissolve them; dry food does not help - unless she is on a dry prescription urinary diet....
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
I didn't know that thank you! I will start today. I guess both kitties will change to a wet diet because I know she will try to eat my other cats' food. I just want to make sure she's okay. She never had any health issues so I hope this goes away.
post #8 of 25
Seconding Carolina's comments on the benefits of wet! One of my cats was chubby when he was on a combo wet/dry diet. All I had to do to get him to shed those extra pounds was to get the dry out of his diet. Worked perfectly!
post #9 of 25
There are two types of crystals, struvite and calcium oxalate. Struvite crystals can be "dissolved" by acidifying the urine. Any cat food you see at a pet store or a supermarket that says "urinary tract health" means that it is designed to create an acidic urine pH. The medicine is likely a urine acidifier, and I expect you'll find they are struvite crystals. There isn't anything that can "fix" calcium oxalate crystals other than a change in diet.

But either way, it is the diet that causes the crystals to be created in the first place. And as the others have pointed out, one of the best things is first and foremost keeping the urine dilute, which is best done with wet food.

We just switched our cats from a dry diet to a wet one. They were on the prescription dry food Hill's Science Diet c/d, which is the prescription diet for cats with crystal problems. It is designed to create a neutral pH in the urine, and addresses both types of crystals. We originally switched them to the canned c/d, but now that they're eating only wet food, we have it as part of a rotation with a number of higher quality foods. With their urine being so dilute, it's not imperative that they remain only on the prescription food.

The switch from dry to wet was, for us, a PIA because now they can't free feed and we have to feed them on a schedule. But they lost weight. The trick will be finding the right amount of calories for the kitties so they stay (or become) the right weight.
post #10 of 25
Just throwing my two cents in here and agreeing with the above advice from everyone. I have to say I am surprised your vet didn't talk with you about a change in diet? Or did I miss something?? Your kitty should be on a wet food urinary diet now. Wet food is high in moisture content which aids in urinary health. Glad you got your kitty in for that check-up and found about the crystals.
post #11 of 25
My guy had crystals too, from an all dry diet. Switched to 90% wet, 10% dry and he's been fine every since. I've learned from the wonderful people here, dry isn't very good.
post #12 of 25
this may sound silly, but can you see the crystals in the box? or is it microscopic?
post #13 of 25
My boy had struvite crystals (diagnosed two years ago Labor Day) and, after a course of antibiotics, was placed on Hills C/D. He's not a big fan of any sort of wet food, so he gets a bit of wet twice a day, and some dry CD the rest of the day. Sometimes you just have to go with what kitty will eat, but it's a good thing your girl likes wet, I think. My boy also was overweight - the vet worked with me to figure out a good portion size, and he's gradually lost weight ever since.

I would definitely ask the vet re the diet, and portion size, and wouldn't be surprised if he mentioned one of the prescription foods. It may seem costly at the outset, but I found the smaller portions mean it's about the same price as the premium food I was feeding before, and, of course, him being healthy is priceless - and saves on vet bills!

I don't know that I would race to introduce a new, and much younger, cat into the mix right now, if it can be avoided - stress is also thought to be a factor in crystal formation, and many cats detest any sort of change.

Two things - it's ok if you end up on C/D if the other cat eats the C/D as well, and if possible you might look into adding a cat fountain at home if you don't already have one. Whatever helps getting more liquid into them is a good thing.

Good luck.
post #14 of 25
Oh, I wish it were that easy to diagnose... Has to be seen under the microscope..... Good question though.
post #15 of 25
My cat was just diagnosed with crystals and the vet wants her on Royal Canin.

I have 3 other cats and that Royal Canin stuff is expensive. The "sick" cat is the only one who is allowed outside, for about 3 hours every a.m. so I can use that time period to feed the others non Royal Canin food but, I'm wondering...if the problem is lack of water, could I switch to no kibble, all wet food and forgo the RX canned food? What if the only kibble I feed is the RX kibble but I feed regular canned food? (I feed Fancy Feast)

anyone have experience with this?
post #16 of 25
Unfortunately, it's kind of a trial and error thing. Some people are able to switch their cats over to all canned and completely eliminate all urinary problems. However, there are many people on the board who have cats that have flare ups every time they're taken off of prescription food. Personally, I have my cats on Royal Canin Urinary SO because they refuse wet food. It works extremely well.
post #17 of 25
Fancy Feast has a reputation for causing urinary tract issues, so it wouldn't be the brand to go with. Nobody can really advise you what will work other than the prescription food except a vet. I feed 50% prescription dry (various brands including Hills, Royal Canin and Eukanuba) and 50% canned with no grains/by-products for maintenance because Jamie won't eat the prescription canned. A urinalysis is done every three months, and so far the crystals
haven't recurred
The vet can also prescribe an acidifier
post #18 of 25
Originally Posted by mommysugar View Post
this may sound silly, but can you see the crystals in the box? or is it microscopic?
Well, if its a male, think of how tiny his little gun is. Then imagine how tiny the urethra must be. The crystal has to fit through that.

You're more likely to notice symptoms like difficultly urinating possibly yowling, litterbox avoidance, blood in the urine, and excessive genital grooming.
post #19 of 25
does the RX food have something in it that actually gets rid of the crystals? or is it just that it doesn't cause the crystals? Does the regular food cause crystals? If so, why? I guess what I'm saying is, what brings on the condition in the first place?

I tried the Royal Canin kibble and canned food last night. The kibble was a hit with all 4. The canned food was a total failure. They didn't even look at it.
post #20 of 25
Originally Posted by Ellsworth View Post
does the RX food have something in it that actually gets rid of the crystals? or is it just that it doesn't cause the crystals? Does the regular food cause crystals? If so, why? I guess what I'm saying is, what brings on the condition in the first place?
Yes and yes. There are different types of crystals, but if its struvite crystals for example, from what I understand they create a formula that acidifies the urine, has lower magnesium/phos., and is usually salted a bit which makes the cats thirstier to dilute the urine.

There are many factors that can lead to struvite crystals.
1) If a cat is holding it in, the urine becomes more and more concentrated. A cat might hold it in if its not happy with the number, location, or quality of its litterbox.

2) Hydration matters, so a pure kibble diet for example can lead to chronic mild dehydration. Adding multiple water fountains and including at least some wet food in the diet (which is around 80% moisture) helps dilute the urine.

3) The food itself can affect urine PH. You can get different types of crystals depending on if the urine PH is too high or too low. Typically in inexpensive kibbles, they are too high of carb and a lot of the proteins are plant as well, and plant matter, while lower in minerals, creates a more alkaline urine PH than meat. The meat that is in these cheap kibbles usually has a lot of bone, which creates a high ash/mineral content. Fishy foods are an issue as well for this reason. How often the cat is fed also affects urine PH, as right after eating urine PH is elevated for a while.

4) Overall body health matters too, as I have read that obese cats are at greater risk to develop urinary tract issues.

5) Genetics. Some cats just have a really narrow urethra (males in particular) or strange out-of-the-norm habits that predispose them to crystals even if ten other cats were fine in the same environment and food.

Cliffs Notes:
Typical cause: Cheap kibble free-fed and insufficient or poorly maintained litterboxes are the main factors IMO. They have high ash, too much plant protein/carbs and are often free fed which all raise urine PH, cats are often overweight from having unlimited calories available, and few people have the recommended one litterbox per cat + 1 spare (so two cats, three litterboxes).

Preventative solution: Schedule feed a proper amount of quality wet food or wet+good grainfree dry mixed diet such as Blue Wilderness, Wellness Core, Innova Evo, or Nature's Variety Raw Instinct (Evo and Nature's variety dry are only 7% and 8% carb respectively for example, lower than even many quality canned wet foods like Wellness Chicken and Lobster), and try not to feed TOO much fish (in particular tuna). Include multiple water fountains to attract kitties to drink, and have adequate clean litterboxes and you should be good to go.
post #21 of 25
thank you very much for your thorough response. The only bad thing on you list that I am guilty of is feeding too much seafood, especially tuna. In fact, they eat almost 100% seafood because when I try anything else, they boycott it. But I can get them to eat other canned food by making it the only food available.

Oddly, the cat with crystals tends to eat only the kibble, which is Evo, and she drinks the most water of the group.
post #22 of 25
My cat had problems with crystals years ago. I switched him from dry to wet food. For a couple of years the problem seemed to have subsided but one day, out of the blue, he was squatting on the floor barely able to walk. We went straight to the vet and $1300 and 5 days in the vet, he is on the Urinary SO formula. Has been for the last 2 years. I will never feed him anything else again. Ever. That was terrifying.

We adopted a second male cat about 2 months ago. We tried to feed them each their own diet but after a week, I thought better of it, and put the second cat on the Urinary SO as well. Not only because Tobee would eat Julius' food and he is not allowed any dietary indiscretions, but as a preemptive strike for Julius.

I know it's expensive, but I can't go through that again. Good luck.
post #23 of 25

my cat has had crystals in the past (unknown by me that this is why he was poorly) and was diagnosed by the vet, he was treated in the vets and i had to change his diet, he delightfully peed in a food bowl recently and the crystals were very obvious, if in doubt just put an old litter tray down with some newspaper in and if they pee in it you will see the crystal clearly.

post #24 of 25

Hi, About the crystals in your cat's urine.  I have had that with both of my cats at 2 different time.  I found that feeding them Royal Canine SO and Friskies Special Diet solved the problem.  I didn't read that you vet recommended this to you.  My vet did not give my cats any medication, so I am wondering why yours did.  You can tell if they have crystals, if they stuggle to urinate in the litter box and the urine is very small dots, instead of normal, larger clumps.  Good luck.  Anne

post #25 of 25
Bear in mind this thread is a couple of years old, so it's unlikely the OP will reply. However, lots of people have cats with crystal problems and there is a lot of information here regarding that issue.
If you have a specific question you would like answered, please start a new thread so you'll get a lot more responses.
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