Cat Food Urinary Health
"Cat food urinary health is dependent on keeping your cat hydrated, diet and natural supplements that help support the urinary system.."
Cats are susceptible to urinary tract problems. Female cats are prone toward urinary tract infections. Male cats (and some female) get a condition called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD or FUS). Both can be caused by the body being either unable to urinate or from urinating less than nature intended.
Urination is the body's way of cleansing the urinary system. If your cat is healthy, the urine itself helps to clean the urinary system from bacteria and keeps bladder stones (uroliths) from forming and then blocking any passages. The urine itself needs to have a specific ph balance in order to effectively work.
In general, studies have shown that diet and certain supplements can have an impact on the prevention of certain types of stones (struvite) and in preventing infection. The key to all is to make sure that your cat always has fresh water to drink. If you cat doesn't drink enough, then moisture needs to come from other sources such as canned cat food.
The Cornell Feline Center provides a set of guidelines for overall and cat food urinary health. These include:
Feed diets that promote the formation of urine that is acidic. Most commercial diets currently available meet this criteria. Avoid supplementing such diets with additional urinary acidifiers, because over-acidification can cause metabolic acidosis, impaired kidney function, and mineral imbalance.
Restrict dietary magnesium intake to 40 milligrams per 100 kilocalories if acidic urine (pH of 6.4 or less) is maintained. Most commercial diets meet this criteria.
Feed small meals on a frequent basis or feed free-choice dry foods.
Provide clean, fresh water at all times.
Provide an adequate number of litter boxes (usually one more than the number of cats in the household), and keep them clean.
Canned Food vs. Dry Food
Many experts believe canned food is superior to dry food for cat food urinary health. That’s because it contains much more moisture. Canned food contains about 70 – 78% water, while dry kibble contains only about 10% water.
Those experts who recommend a canned food diet for cats say that cats fed a dry food diet are at high risk for urinary problems. If your cat is healthy and hydrated/drinking then dry vs. canned should not matter as much as a brand name commercial food will be made to support urinary health.
There are two types of bladder stones (struvite or oxalate). Dietary change such as Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Multicare can help to dissolve struvite stones and to some extent it might help with calcium oxalate stone formation. It works by limiting the amount of dietary magnesium and by promoting the production of urine that is more acidic. If your cat has calcium oxalate stones they will require surgery for removal. The incidence of each stone type is 50/50.
Natural Supplements for Cat Food Urinary Health
There are two types of supplements that can have a positive impact on urinary health. The first type as described below combines natural ingredients and the second is glucosamine (which is also helpful with arthritis).
Ingredients to look for in a product include:
- Arctostaphylos uva ursi: helps to maintain normal pH levels in the urinary tract. (Larsson B, Jonasson A, Fianu S. “Prophylactic effect of UVA-E in women with recurrent cystitis: a preliminary report.” Current Therapeutic Research 1993;53(4):441-443. ).
- Berberis vulgaris:contains berberine and is well known for its restorative effect on the bladder and urinary tract. Berberis also helps to support healthy immune system functioning. (Li SY, Ling LH, Teh BS, et al. “Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties of the bis- benzylisoquinolines: in vitro comparisons of tetrandrine and berbamine.” Int J Immunopharmacol 1989;11(4):395-401.)
- Cantharis (6C) is often recommended for its ability to maintain a healthy flow of urine and soothe the bladder.
- Staphysagris (6C) is a proven natural remedy also recommended for urogenital health and as a well known prostate tonic.
One product which combines all of these ingredients and that is made specifically for cat urinary problems is PetAlive UTI-Free Formula for Pet Urinary Tract Infections. Check with your veterinarian to see if you should try this approach and so that he or she can monitor progress.
Another supplement, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (also called Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) replacements, pentosan polysulphate, glucosmaine) is recommended by many veterinarians if your cat is suffering from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). There is mixed clinical evidence that this supplement can help with this condition. In studies not all cats respond to this supplement, although those that do can benefit. Discuss this option with your veterinarian.
References for Cat Food Urinary Health:
Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
An update on management of feline lower urinary tract disease
Andrew H. Sparkes
Bvet Med, PhD, Dipl ECVIM, MRCVS, New Market, UK
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