The Best Diet for Feline Urinary Tract Disease : Causes and Treatment
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) can be affected by what your cat eats. Feeding your cat the wrong food can contribute to the development of a urinary tract disease (FLUTD) and kidney damage. A diet that is too high in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium can cause crystals to form in the urinary tract. This can cause pain, irritation and and possible blockage in the long run. Veterinarians believe feeding diet based cat food with restricted amounts of the above mentioned minerals can assist in the dissolution of some types of stones that may have formed in a cat’s urinary tract.
What Causes Urinary Tract Disease?
There is no single cause of feline urinary tract disease. Veterinarians have determined that there are components that may contribute to the prevalence of the disease. For more information or diagnosis, you should contact your veterinarian.
Causes may include the following:
- Cats more than 1 year of age are most susceptible.
- Overweight cats
- Lack of exercise
- History of chronic kidney disease or urinary tract procedures
- Both male and females cats suffer from the disease equally, but neutered male cats have a greater risk of life-threatening urethral obstruction from the crystals or stones
Home Environment Risks:
- Inside-only cat
- Multiple pet households
- Stress: This could include house guests, conflict with other pets, or a lack of places to rest or hide
- Not drinking enough water can increase the risk of urinary tract disease in cats
- Cats can internalize stress in their urinary tract, which can lead to painful inflammation
- Cats can associate painful urination with the litter box and stop using it
Feeding the wrong food can contribute to the development of a urinary tract disease (FLUTD). With FLUTD, crystals or stones form within the urinary tract and cause irritation, pain and possibly blockage. In severe cases, this can lead to kidney damage or may even be fatal if not properly treated.
- An abundance of certain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Read on to learn more about this in the next section.
- Food influences the pH, or acidity, of urine. Urine should be moderately acidic for a healthy urinary tract because it’s harder for struvite crystals to grow in an acidic environment
The challenge is to find the right cat food that appeals to your kitty, contains the proper amount of protein and magnesium and has few or no by-products. When selecting the best cat food to help prevent future FLUTD occurrences in your kitty, consider the following:
1. Provide High Protein Meat Based Food
Most dry cat food are high in grain proteins, which are alkalizing. Meat based foods are better than grain-based foods! Raw meat diets are best at preventing FLUTD, then followed by wet or canned foods, which contain more meat and fewer grains than dry food.
The first and most common ingredient that should be listed is meat protein. Read the label carefully. Here are variations you could see:
Canned cat food:
Dry cat food:
Other helpful ingredients, for good urinary tract health, are blueberries and cranberries. Vegetables such as carrots are good and rice is a great grain for your cat to consume.
2. Avoid By-Products
If by-products are listed in the ingredients, put it back. By-products are filler material, and have limited nutritional value for your kitty. By-products are typically carbohydrates and since cats are carnivores, they need protein, not lots of carbs, for proper nutrition.
Here are some examples of by-products:
Canned cat food:
Corn gluten meal
Ground yellow corn
Dry cat food:
Ground Yellow Corn
Chicken By-Product Meal
Corn Gluten Meal
3. How Much Moisture Is In the Cat Food?
What’s the percentage of moisture in the cat food you’re considering? The higher the number, the better for your kitty. More moisture means your cat will urinate more. Increased urination will flush out any crystals that may be trying to form in your cat’s urinary tract. Canned cat food has a higher moisture content than dry.
4. How Much Ash and Magnesium Does the Cat Food Contain?
Ash refers to the total mineral content in a food. It gets its name from the laboratory procedure used to measure mineral content which involves burning a sample at high heat until nothing is left but the mineral ash. The major minerals calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are all necessary for life, so “ashless” cat food is not desirable. The right amount and balance of minerals are necessary.
An excess of magnesium will contribute to struvite crystal formation. Some magnesium is necessary, but generally look for cat food that has a maximum of 0.025% magnesium to prevent struvite crystals. In dry foods look for less than 7% ash and 1% magnesium. In wet foods (containing 78% water) look for less than 1.5% ash and 0.02% magnesium.
5. Does the Cat Food Contain DL-Methionine?
DL-Methionine is an amino acid with sulfur, which helps regulate ammonia formation in urine. This amino acid helps maintain your cat’s urine pH balance at around 6.6, which is normal and does not encourage crystal formation.
6. Add Supplements for Good Urinary Health
Vitamin C is a natural urinary aid, and cranberry extract can prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall to cause infection. These ingredients are combined with highly active digestive enzymes in Cranberry D-Mannose Urinary Tract Support Tablets, a supplement for cats prone to urinary infections. Also, Animal Essentials Tinkle Tonic is an herbal formula that can reduce inflammation and fight infection in the urinary tract.
7. Make Sure Your Cat Drinks Enough Water
Dilution of the urine is a frequently overlooked factor in urinary problems. Cats who only eat dry food may be chronically dehydrated, due to lack of sufficient fluids in their systems to flush the kidneys. In the wild, cats get most of their fluids from their prey and do not have an instinct for water drinking. The easiest solution in preventing dehydration is to feed a wet food diet or provide a water fountain that encourages cats to drink.
Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy cat lifestyle. If your cat has been diagnosed with a urinary tract problem, it’s important to get her on the right diet. Special diet food can help control mineral levels, maintain a healthy urine pH and reduce inflammation to safely resolve feline urinary issues. Always consult your veterinarian for a detailed diagnosis and ask them to recommend the best food for your cat’s urinary tract health. Many foods, both prescription and over-the-counter, can help prevent and treat feline urinary tract disease. Here are some recommended cat foods for feline urinary tract health:
Amy is the founder of Cat Mania and a life long cat lover. She also writes for various other pet related websites. She is passionate about helping pet parents create a healthy and happy lifestyle for their fur-babies.