Xanthine Bladder Stones in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment What Leads to Xanthine Bladder Stones in Cats and How To Get Rid of It

Xanthine Bladder Stones in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Xanthine bladder stones, commonly known as xanthine uroliths, are uncommon kinds of bladder stones in cats that can vary in size, ranging from very small grains to larger, more solid structures. This article will examine what leads to Xanthine bladder stones in cats, the symptoms, and how to get rid of them.

Xanthine bladder stones in cats are generally caused by a genetic mutation or a rare metabolic condition known as xanthinuria. Xanthine is a naturally occurring chemical that is formed through the breakdown of purines, which are substances found in certain diets and that the body also produces. However, when a cat's metabolism is interrupted, such as by a genetic defect or a rare metabolic condition known as xanthinuria, xanthine can build up, causing xanthine crystals in urine or stones in the bladder.  

In this article, we examine the causes of xanthine stones in cats, xanthine bladder stones signs, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent the formation of xanthine stones in cats.


Some causes of xanthine stones in cats and risk factors for xanthine bladder stones in cats include:

  • Inherited xanthinuria: Some cats may inherit a genetic mutation that inhibits xanthine metabolism, causing it to accumulate and create xanthine bladder stones.

  • Medication: Certain drugs, such as allopurinol (used to treat gout), can disrupt xanthine metabolism and lead to the production of xanthine stones in sensitive cats.

  • Liver disease: Cats with liver disease or dysfunction are at a higher risk of acquiring xanthine bladder stones due to decreased metabolic pathways.

  • Diet: Although nutrition is not a direct cause of xanthine bladder stones, high-purine diets can enhance xanthine production in the body, thus worsening the problem in xanthinuric cats.


The symptoms of xanthine bladder stones in cats may include the following:

  • Straining to urinate or frequent attempts to urinate.

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).

  • Painful urination (dysuria).

  • Urinating outside of the litter box.

  • Urinary blockage.


Here are some tests and procedures vets use to examine cats with a possibility of xanthine bladder stones:

  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will examine your cat thoroughly, looking for symptoms of discomfort, pain, or anomalies in the abdomen or urinary tract.

  • Medical history: The veterinarian will inquire about your cat's medical history, such as any past urinary difficulties or known genetic abnormalities.

  • Urinalysis: A urine sample from your cat will be collected for analysis. Urinalysis can reveal xanthine crystals in urine, blood, or other abnormalities in the urine that may suggest the existence of bladder stones.

  • Urine culture: A urine culture can be performed to identify any urinary tract infections that may be causing stone formation.

  • Imaging investigations: Tests such as X-rays or ultrasound imaging, can aid in the visualization of the bladder and the detection of stones. Because xanthine stones are radiolucent, they may not be visible on standard X-rays, so extra imaging techniques may be required to identify them.

  • Stone analysis: If bladder stones are discovered, the veterinarian may propose surgical or other methods of removal, followed by a laboratory examination of the stones. The makeup of the stones, including whether they are xanthine stones, can be determined via stone analysis.

Treatment and Management Options

The treatment plan depends on the size, quantity, and placement of the stones as well as the cat's general health; a particular treatment plan will be chosen. Here are some typical medical options:

  • Surgery: Surgical removal is the main and preferred treatment for xanthine bladder stones.  To reach and remove the stones, a technique known as a cystotomy is usually performed. 

  • Medical dissolution: This entails giving drugs or following a particular diet that gradually dissolves the stones, although xanthine stones are typically less responsive to this method.

  • Dietary changes: Dietary changes may be indicated after surgical removal or as part of long-term therapy. A diet for urinary care, high in moisture and low in purines can help avoid the recurrence of xanthine bladder stones or dissolve present stones. 

  • Management of underlying causes: If xanthinuria, the metabolic abnormality that causes xanthine bladder stones, is discovered, the underlying problem must be managed. This may include genetic counseling, if applicable, as well as addressing any underlying liver or metabolic disorders with medicine or other treatments.

  • Monitoring and follow-up: Constant monitoring, including repeat imaging such as MRI for kidney stones and urinalysis, may be required to assess therapy success, monitor for stone recurrence, and evaluate the cat's overall urinary health.

Preventive Tips

The following are a few prevention strategies that can be employed for cat xanthine stones:

  • Veterinarian care: Ensure constant checkups with your vet to keep an eye on your cat's urinary health and to address any underlying issues that can cause stones to grow.

  • Breeding and genetic testing: If your cat has been identified as having xanthinuria, a hereditary condition linked to xanthine bladder stones, you may want to undertake genetic testing to find out who the gene's carriers are. Responsible breeding techniques can aid in preventing the disease from being passed on to subsequent generations.

  • Management of medications: If your cat needs medicine that affects xanthine metabolism, such as allopurinol, work closely with your veterinarian to monitor your cat's urinary health and manage the prescription appropriately. 

  • Hydration: Make sure your cat always has access to clean water. Drinking enough water encourages the generation and diluting of urine, which lowers the concentration of chemicals that can lead to stone formation.

  • Diet: Give your cat a healthy, balanced diet. Consult your vet to identify the ideal food for your cat's unique needs, taking into account things like age, general health, and any previous urinary problems. Diets designed to support urinary health, such as those reduced in purines, may be advised.

  • Environment enrichment: Give your cat a stimulating environment to encourage frequent activity and cerebral stimulation. Playtime and engaging toys can encourage movement, which may benefit urinary health in general.

  • Litter box hygiene: Ensure that your cat's litter box is clean and easily accessible. A clean litter box encourages regular urination and helps prevent urinary issues.

It's vital to remember that xanthine bladder stones can be difficult to remove entirely. For advice and tailored suggestions regarding precautions unique to your cat's circumstances, speak with a veterinarian.

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