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Crystals in urine

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Help!! Ace, my 9 year old has been diagnosed with urinary crystals. He is back at the vets again. Does any one know what else can cause these. We have changed his food and have him on Methagel twice a day. He was on another medicine in pill form but he still cries sometimes when he urinates. Could the cat litter have an effect on him? We changed litters about 6 months ago. Any help and prayers would be appreciated.
post #2 of 18
I'm not trained in cat health, but we had a kitty with many problems with urinary tract infections, blockages and crystals. After treating the urinary tract infection with antibiotics, he was put on a diet of Hills Science Diet c/d formula. Is this the food your vet has recommended? This adjusted his ph levels to where he did not get urinary tract infections and it kept the concentration of crystals low enough that he was not in pain. If we would feed him even one treat, he would develop a urinary tract infection (that always came with crystals in his urine).

To solve the "treat" problem what we did was buy really strong smelling treats, mix them in with his prescription food so it would absorb the smell, and give him "treats" that were actually his prescription food.

I don't think the litter could be the problem unless he's eating it. This is an internal thing, not an external thing. If your kitty is eating litter, keep a very close watch of his red blood cell count. Eating litter is very frequently a prelude to anemia. (Learned this because our kitty - the same one that had the urinary tract problems - after being referred to a specialist in the field because of his SEVERE anemia, which, thank god, we appear to be successfully treating. It is SUCH a subtle change to notice there's something wrong when it's anemia, and we were very lucky to get him to a vet in time to save his life. So if your kitty is eating the litter, get him to a vet. Our non-specialist vet said that we should read nothing into his eating litter. In some cases it turns out they have a nutritional deficiency. But the cat-only specialist internist said that litter eating is frequently a symptom of anemia, so you should mention this to your vet if your kitty is eating litter).

If one vet doesn't seem to be solving your kitty's problem, please see another one and get a second opinion! It seems to me crystals in the urine should be very treatable, but all I have is this one experience.
post #3 of 18
I had a cat with crystals once. He had to stay at the vets for a week, was on a drip which dissolved the crystals. Then he went on to medication and special diet. The vet said that it happens to some male cats, and the medication and special diet did help for a very long time. But you have to keep your eye open for any trouble in passing urine and take him immediately to the vet if he is having problems. The question of litter was never mentioned.

Tasha I am sorry this has happened and I pray for you and that your furbabe soon gets back to normal. Please keep us updated.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
We just got back from the vet. They gave Ace some more antibiotics for a week. More Methagel and an anti spasm pill. The vet thinks he is still having spasms from the crystals.
post #5 of 18
They put my kittie on steroids for a while too. Is he looking a bit happier.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ace seems to be doing a little bit better. He is enjoying the attention he is getting. He is the only one allowed to sleep on the bed with us. The others are locked out of the bedroom because we have to watch his litter box to make sure he is going to the bathroom. Thanks for all the prayers and best wishes.
post #7 of 18
Our 10-year-old Loulou has been suffering with crystals for a while. Vets have messed around a bit, first of all treating her for struvite crystals and now for oxalate crystals. There are special diets for both, but suggest you find out which type of crystals Ace has before you start any special diet. Also vitamin C helps apparently. We have it in powder form and just gently put a fingertip-full down Loulou's neck every day (which she hates because it fizzes up!). The vitamin helps to keep the urine to the right acidity, so the vet says, regardless of the type of crystals the cat has.
post #8 of 18
If you didn't know, this is what makes the "prescription" diets (they actually aren't prescriptions lol) work, at least the ones for struvite crystals, just so you understand it:

1) Low magnesium. This helps with struvite crystals, as excess magnesium results in crystals. Magnesium content should be quite low--like .06 or .07.

2) High methionine. This is also what MethaGel is. It acidifies the urine. Higher pH is more favorable to crystal formation.

3) Salt. Just cheap, plain old salt :P It makes cats more thirsty, so they drink more water. More water means more frequent urination, which means less time for crystals to form. It also helps to keep the cat fully hydrated; some cats apparently have less than healthy water intakes because they eat dry food, and cats generally don't have a strong thirst drive.

Any diet that low in magnesium will work; just add more methionine to make up for it. And salt the food.

Vitamin C does help, as does cranberry extract.

And to add to the salt thing...just add more water to his food or give him canned. Cats who eat just dry food have far higher rates of crystals than cats who do not. You can try letting him drink from the faucet or get one of those cat fountains, because cats prefer to drink running water over still water.

Also, keep the stress to a minimum. Something like new litter, or anything else, that the cat perceives as stressful can lead to crystal formation, because stress can result in higher pH.

I'm curious about this case, though, because usually cats who have crystals have a lifelong tendency that can never be eliminated, only worked around. Has he always had problems with crystals?
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
He has never had it before. You said stress can contribute to the crystals? We moved a year ago. He became a totally indoor cat then because of the traffic where we live now. We also adopted a kitten last summer. Until we moved he rarely used a litter box, he went outside to use the bathroom. Guess that's alot of stress in the last year. He seems to be doing better now. Still on antibiotics and methagel. Eating the prescription diet also.
post #10 of 18
It would probably be wise to continue giving him low-magnesium food with some form of methionine for the rest of his life, because most cats who get crystals have an underlying tendency that never goes away. Discuss this with your vet. It may not be necessary for him, because if it were a very strong tendency I'd think he would have had this problem before, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. And once he does have a problem, obviously it will be stressful, causing a vicious cycle.

It does sound like the stress could have triggered a rise in pH, and the crystals formed until you noticed the problem. Hopefully he's adapted and won't have any further problems. Good luck!
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your response. I will keep checking with the vet. Right now he is on Methigel for 2 tubes only. When those are gone I will check again with the vet.
post #12 of 18
Some people find that a diet of all canned food with no dry helps a lot with crystals. I have heard that it can work even better then prescription diets. You may want to look into this if you want an alternative to constant medication.
post #13 of 18
Something sort of funny the vet told me when Charlie was at the vet for this problem for the third time in a year, was that I can take him to Purdue University vet hospital and get him changed into a girl! I guess something with neutering a male cat makes them get crystals. Charlie has had them so bad he was puking from it, and could do nothing but lie on the floor and cry. I have him on SD right now, and will be on CD after that for the rest of his life, as well as getting him a drinking fountain, which the vet said will help, because moving water is more interesting to him and he will drink more.
post #14 of 18
I've never heard of neutering causing any such problems. However, females don't get problems with crystals, for a simple reason: if they form any, they'll just urinate them out.
post #15 of 18
How's your boy doing? Better, I hope!

If he continues to have problems, make sure that you ask your vet if he or she tested the crystals to find out if they're struvite crystals, or oxalate crystals - the diet prescription is different for the different kinds of crystals.

Some cats may have recurring problems for unknown reasons, and they can do a surgery like Chester & Charlie mentioned, to widen the opening so he doesn't get blocked up. Female cats can have crystal problems too, but they have a little bit of an easier time passing them. If a girl does get crystals, she definitely still needs to be treated - they're hard on all kitties, poor things.

I hope he's better soon - sending prayers for your sweetie.
post #16 of 18
Basically what you need to do is to acidify the urine, however you can also get to a point that the urine is too acidic.

Also treat for an infection if one is present, as the crystals can be causing lacerations internally.

I would have the vet do a urinanalysis, if he hasn't already, and then figure out exactly where the urine acidity/akalinity lies.

I would also suspect dietary issues for this to be such a persistent problem. Have you changed anything related to his diet prior to these problems surfacing?

post #17 of 18
Originally Posted by Weatherlight View Post

I've never heard of neutering causing any such problems. However, females don't get problems with crystals, for a simple reason: if they form any, they'll just urinate them out.

we were told the opposite. my husband's cat (before we met) had kidney stones/blockage and the vet told him that it happens to males that are not nuetered or nuetered late more than nuetered males.

post #18 of 18
One other thing you can do to help regulate his ph balance is get him onto a low calcium/low magnesium bottled water. We live in a very hard water area and I give them, on vet advice, only mineral water. You have to look carefully at the labels, because bought waters vary greatly in the amount and type of minerals in htem. I aim for a calcium content of less that 7 mg per litre.
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