Struvite Crystals in Cats and Urinary Disease

Struvite urine crystals are composed of ammonium, phosphate and magnesium. The picture on the left is a struvite cyrstal under a microscope, from one of our patients. In cats, several factors such as high urinary pH, very concentrated urine, and urine infections can contribute to crystal formation. When many crystals form, the crystals create irritation and the cat will show symptoms of bladder pain such as straining, frequent trips to the litter box and sometimes bloody urine. The crystals can congregate with mucous to form plugs and actually cause blockage of the urinary tract in male cats, which is quickly life threatening if left untreated. The good news is that this condition is preventable by feeding an appropriate diet that is low in the minerals involved and that promotes acidic urine. The crystals do not like to form in acidic urine. There are a number of veterinary diets available that will keep your cat’s urinary tract healthy. Talk to your veterinarian to get a recommendation on which diet would be appropriate specifically for your cat. – by Dr. Linda Schild

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