Cost of Bladder Stone Removal in a Cat

Cost of Bladder Stone Removal in a Cat


Last year, I noticed my 3-year old smaller cat, Scarface, was peeing outside the litter box. There are two reasons for this type of behavior: 1) Medical, 2) Behavioral. He seemed healthy otherwise so I thought it could be behavioral. Him and my 5-year old bigger cat, Franklin, would often fight and taunt each other. I thought it could have been a territorial issue. I have two litter boxes in my apartment – ideally 1 for each cat plus an additional box is recommended. But that is far too many for my relatively small 1br apartment. I purchased the Thundershirt for Franklin, which was hilarious, but didn’t seem to help with Scarface’s issues.

In August I went away for a family emergency and left the cats with my friend. She noticed that Scarface, who continued to pee outside of the litterbox, now had blood in his urine. So she immediately brought him to a local vet who declared it was a UTI and prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately, that didn’t clear anything up. About a month later, I talked to my neighborhood vet about this and she recommended getting xrays. It was good we did because the xray showed an obvious stone in his bladder. Poor guy.

Feline Bladder Stone Removal Options

Nowadays there are two options to remove a bladder stone from your cat.

The first is to try to dissolve it with prescription cat food. This will take some time and is not guaranteed to work. You have to feed your cat exclusively the special food, then bring him into the vet regularly to check if the stone is getting smaller. The costs associated with this option are for the special food and the regular vet visits. There will be additional xrays and lab testing until the stone is fully removed. This takes an average of 3-6 months and could be longer.

The second is the tried-and-true method of surgery. This is a guarantee that the stone will be removed. It is a very common surgery but the risks still apply. It also can be costly. The surgery was quoted to me as $700-$950. It is a fixed cost and the follow-up appointment is included.

Choosing Surgery

I went with the surgery for my cat because I wanted the process to just be over with. Bringing him to the vet continually and not knowing how long it would take or how much it would cost didn’t seem worth it to me. Surgery is a scary thing for a pet. Scarface, who I love so very much, also has teeth issues and had a teeth cleaning last year. So he was already familiar with anesthesia, which is a concern because some pets have an adverse reaction to it. He doesn’t like going to the vet so I wanted to limit those appointments as well.

The total cost for the surgery alone was $825.

The preceding appointment with the xray and lab analysis was an additional cost as well. Even though the surgery was expensive, at least it was a fixed cost. I added it into my budget and decided I would use my federal tax return to cover it.

Recovery Information

Fortunately, the surgery was a success. The stone was removed and there were no complications. Scarface came home to me that same day. I dropped him off on my way to work then picked him up on my way home. He was very groggy, as he was still coming off the anesthesia. His belly was shaved so they could perform the surgery. And he had a cone on to prevent him from licking the stitches. This is important because licking or scratching the stitches can lead to infection or not proper healing.

Despite being drugged up and walking around like he was drunk, he was rambunctious when it came to that cone. He hated wearing the cone. On the walk home, he was thrashing in his carrier and managed to get the cone off in there. Putting it back on him was stressful. He hated it. Also, it was kind of hilarious. I was told to keep it on him when I was out of the house. But could take it off him when I was around to supervise he wasn’t bothering the stitches. I would always leave in the morning with the cone on him and come home with it lying in the middle of the floor not attached to the cat.

The two litter boxes I use are top-entry boxes. So the cats have to jump on top of them, then go into a hole in the lid and do their business, then jump back out. Well, Scarface wasn’t allowed – and physically couldn’t – jump on anything. So that was something I hadn’t thought about beforehand. I made an emergency run to Target to buy a cheap box he could just walk into.

Prescription Cat Food Costs

Even with the surgery, he still needs to eat prescription cat food. I can buy this online through a service my vet approved. It is fairly expensive but not as bad as I had thought. He likes it okay enough. I had been feeding them Blue Buffalo cat food prior so they were already used to, what I call, “organic kale” cat food. (This is in comparison to Friskies, which I call, “cheeseburgers.”)

Scarface’s prescription cat food is $34 for 24 small cans. The dry food is $28 for a 4lb bag. Previously I was buying 15lb bag of dry food for $37. And spending $12 on 24 small cans of wet food. Not related to this, but I also buy litter that is on the pricey-side at $26 for a 28lb bag. So my costs for the cats have increased monthly but nothing that will break the bank. Maybe an extra $50. I know that adds up but really that’s just a night out. Also this is temporary. Scarface will go for another lab analysis to make sure he is clear and then at some point he can go back to normal food.

I feed both cats this same food just because it’s easier. According to the vet, it will not affect Franklin’s health. It may cause him to gain weight, as it’s high in calories, so I have to keep an eye on that. My cats are fairly small anyway so this wasn’t much of a concern.

Hopefully, we will establish a routine where Scarface won’t get any more stones. The fewer surgeries the better for this little guy. Unfortunately, urinary issues in cats are almost exclusively an indoor cat problem. Thankfully Franklin has been fine.

There is a question out there of, “What is your cut-off for how much you would spend on your pet?” If you are a pet owner there is only one answer to this: None. Infinity. What are your options? Not spend the money or put your cat down because you can’t afford to take care of this responsibility you accepted? I used to think I had a cut-off then realized that my heart just doesn’t work that way.


9 Replies to “Cost of Bladder Stone Removal in a Cat”

  1. I honestly don’t have a limit. I would sell my kidneys for my pets, both of them. I have them (dog and cat) on pet insurance. Last year my cat had to be hospitalized overnight, the bill was $1,400, luckily the pet insurance paid back half of it.

  2. Glad to hear Scarface is doing okay!

    My cats also live indoors. A few years ago, one was having difficulty urinating, and the problem turned out to be bladder stones. I switched both cats to a low-magnesium dry food with occasional wet food, and they’ve had no trouble since. I also got a water fountain which helped promote water consumption.

  3. I would do the suregry on my cat without skipping a heratbeat if it was “only” $800. I was quoted for $1,800 to remove a single stone. :(

  4. I have a 5 yr old cat his name is buddy. He’s an indoor outdoor cat. He’s got bladder stones. He was given antibiotic shot over a month ago for them. Did not heal. So vet bill is over$1000. We took him into vet fri morn. Won’t see him till wed. Vet used a carathetar to drain his urine. Then took the carathetar out still blocked. So in the process the vet has to use another carathetar on him.

  5. My boy could not urinate. He’s been at vet since Tuesday. Testing, etc. $1,200. They decided to do surgery tomorrow to remove stones $700 more

    1. We were recommended two different options but have been using Hill’s Prescription Diet Cat c/d Multicare both dry and wet canned food for over a year now and working well.

  6. Careful with Blue Buffalo. Both of my cats were throwing up pretty bad while they ate Blue Buffalo and my vet told me that it was way too rich for normal house cats. We switched to pro plan and they stopped throwing up.

    Two seperate vets told us that Blue Buffalo is better at marketing high end cat food than actually making high end cat food.

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