More on feline urinary health …

I’m on a roll!  I recently had yet another discussion on this issue with a cat guardian, so thought I would elaborate (preach?) a tiny bit more on the issue of feline urinary health.

OH … MY … GOD!  No wonder we are so confused!  This morning I spent an hour on the Internet in yet another research frenzy.  I think the entire alphabet is represented in all of the abbreviations for feline urinary issues: FUS, UTI, FLUTD … there were more, but let’s drop it ALL!

Another confusing issue is the conflicting information “out there.”  Well, I might as well add to it with my “take” on what I’ve read, but there are a few items that continue to surface again and again.

  1. The number one reason cats are taken to the veterinarian is related to urinary tract problems.
  2. WATER WATER WATER WATER WATER – the urinary tract system requires sufficient fluids to flush extra minerals out of the body.  A cat that drinks adequate water will urinate more frequently. As a result, the urine will also be less concentrated, which will help prevent the formation of crystals.  Cats naturally have a low thirst drive, so a diet with moisture in it is beneficial.
  3. Stress in a cat’s life can predispose him/her to urinary health issues. (Remember that what’s stressful to your cat may not be obvious to you.  Just like in people, some cats are more ‘highly strung’ than others.)  Obviously, you may or may not have any control over this, but can only do your best to minimize stress.
  4. Bacterial urinary infections are more common in cats older than 10 years of age, and relatively rare in younger cats.  Which means that younger cats are more likely to have urinary inflammation/irritation issues due to other sources such as crystals and/or stones.
  5. Male cats are at greater risk of urinary blockage than female cats, but both genders are equally at risk for urinary health issues.
  6. Genetics appears to play a role in a cat’s predisposition for urinary health issues.
  7. Cats need an acidic urine for urinary tract health. The consensus seems to be that the pH value of the urine should be 6.0 to 6.5. (The lower the pH, the more acidic the urine.) A pH above this range can lead to the growth of struvites. A pH lower than 6.0 can cause the formation of calcium oxalate stones.  If you ask me, this is catch 22 when it comes to attempting to artificially formulate a prescription diet.

NOW a few things that I feel are true, but have seen argued on either side, or dismissed as not relevant:

  1. Meat (animal-based protein) promotes a mildly acidic urine which is normal for the cat.
  2. Grains (plant-based protein and high carbohydrate content) promote an alkaline urine which is NOT normal for the cat.
  3. Fasting between meals, i.e. NOT having food available 24/7, promotes the desired acidic urine in cats.

SUMMARY (as I see it):

  1. Feed a low carbohydrate, no grain wet diet exclusively for cats with a tendency to develop urinary problems.
  2. Do not free feed.
  3. Add water to the food in addition to having fresh water always available.  It helps to have water fountains and/or bowls in several areas of the house.

If you would like to read about feline urinary health issues in detail written by a veterinarian I highly respect, please visit this link:

http://www.catinfo.org/feline_urinary_tract_health.htm (If you scroll down the page you will see photos of some of the treatments performed to help cats with serious urinary problems – not for the faint of heart!)

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4 responses to “More on feline urinary health …

  1. As you know, my cat’s diet is the opposite of what you have found to be good…free-fed dry food. I plan to change it as soon as I move and meet with the new vet, but so far (luckily) my girls have never had a urinary issue. I guess they’re unusual. but they drink a lot of water! They like to drink from the bathroom faucet and meet me in the bathroom all day long!

  2. Just a few thoughts about your post, Mindy. First is that though urinary issues abound, not all cats are going to suffer from this problem, even if fed on an exclusively dry diet. Second is that people often do tell me that their cats “drink a lot” so not to worry. The point is that they will appear to drink a lot if fed a dry diet and we think this is normal. It’s very good that they are drinking, but on average, a cat on a dry kibble diet gets 50% LESS water than a cat fed a wet diet, regardless of how much you see them drinking. This figure is straight out of the “Small Animal Clinical Nutrition” manual put out by Hill’s (a large manufacturer of dry kibble).

    Just as with ourselves we have to weigh the pros and cons of any dietary plan. In some cases dry food outweighs the canned due to whatever factors. Nothing is perfect and there are no miracles. We do what we do and there is no blame, regardless. In some ways, I’m a fanatic preaching my version of salvation, but bear in mind that I fed exclusively dry for over 50 years! How much healthier are my cats now than then? I don’t know. *shrug* 😀

  3. Great summary, Molly.

  4. Interesting Article Molly – As you know I do feed my kitties on dry food, but they always have lots of water around in and out of the house. I do a couple of times a week give them some Gourmet food, turkey or fishy ones, which they love, unfortunately, Mustard does have a very sensitive tummy and has done since kittenhood, hence the reason I put her onto the Hills sensitivity diet she is never sick on that and it seems fine for her. Fortunately, Mustard has not suffered from any urinary tract infection , yet Daisy has on one occasion, but did clear within a couple of days with medication and painkillers. I have a water feature also in my garden which fills from rain water which they also love to drink from.

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