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.
- The number one reason cats are taken to the veterinarian is related to urinary tract problems.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Male cats are at greater risk of urinary blockage than female cats, but both genders are equally at risk for urinary health issues.
- Genetics appears to play a role in a cat’s predisposition for urinary health issues.
- 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:
- Meat (animal-based protein) promotes a mildly acidic urine which is normal for the cat.
- Grains (plant-based protein and high carbohydrate content) promote an alkaline urine which is NOT normal for the cat.
- Fasting between meals, i.e. NOT having food available 24/7, promotes the desired acidic urine in cats.
SUMMARY (as I see it):
- Feed a low carbohydrate, no grain wet diet exclusively for cats with a tendency to develop urinary problems.
- Do not free feed.
- 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!)