What is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease?
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease; FLUTD is a term used to describe any group of disorders or diseases that affects the lower urinary tract (bladder or urethra) in cats. The most common disorder of the group is feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). FIC involves inflammation by an unknown cause, but stress is thought to be a significant factor. FLUTD is also associated with the formation of crystals/stones in the urinary tract that can cause numerous and painful ailments for your cat. The two most common types of crystals/stones are struvite and calcium oxalate. FLUTD is serious and requires medical attention. Fortunately, you can help your cat recover with treatment from your veterinarian and the right nutrition.
The food you feed your cat is extremely important to their overall health. 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 --- often found in grocery store brand cat food --- can cause crystals to form in the urine, which sometimes leads to urinary stones.
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
Flesh foods maintain an acidic pH in the urinary tract, keeping the minerals dissolved in the urine so they can be excreted out. Most dry foods are high in grain proteins, which are alkalizing. Meat-based foods are better than grain-based foods! Raw meat diets such as Instinct Raw Bites, Primal, and Rad Cat frozen meals are best at preventing FLUTD, followed by canned foods, which contain more moisture and meat and fewer grains than dry food.
Look for foods with a low ash content. “Ash” refers to the total mineral content of a food. 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. Excessive minerals, and especially excessive magnesium (a major component of the struvite crystals) are thought to be underlying factors in FLUTD.
In wet foods (containing 78% water) look for less than 1.5% ash and 0.02% magnesium. Some of the Weruva brand canned cat food flavors meet these guidelines. With a moisture rate of 85%, an Ash rate of 1.2% and a magnesium rate of 0.018%. In dry foods look for less than 7% ash and 1% magnesium. Most dry foods don’t list ash on their bags so check on the company’s website.
Both vitamin C and the amino acid L-methionine are natural urinary acidifiers. Cranberry extract can prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall to cause infection. Animals Apawthecary Tinkle Tonic is an herbal tincture that can reduce inflammation and fight infection in the urinary tract.
Cats that only eat dry food may be chronically dehydrated, without sufficient fluids in their systems to flush the kidneys. The simplest route to correcting dehydration is to feed a wet food diet. Make sure water is fresh, clean, and available at all times. Provide a cascading water fountain that encourages cats to drink such as the Drinkwell Lotus Fountain by PetSafe or Petmate’s Deluxe Fresh Flow.