Day 21: Natural Methods for Dealing with Struvite Crystals — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

I had planned out topics to cover for the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge on how to give your cat a green makeover in a month.  However, I just got thrown a curveball yesterday and am so disturbed that I have to blog about it today.

As you may recall from Day 17 in my review of green cleaning products, I quite proudly proclaimed from my green little high horse that I had not owned a single Procter and Gamble product in 15 years.  My task yesterday was to confirm that the green cleaning products I reviewed hadn’t been bought out by a big conglomerate.  Since I was doing research anyway, I decided to visit the P&G website and found out that they own IAMs.

Furball has a prescription for the low pH formula produced by IAMs.  I’m not happy giving him this food, but I didn’t know what else to do since he had the blocked bladder relapse.  I noticed that the IAMs formula caused his coat to go dull almost immediately, so I mixed in half of his regular brand, Pinnacle by Breeder’s Choice.  They received the thumbs up on Day 11 when I learned that it was made and sourced in the U.S.A. from human grade ingredients.  Now that I’ve learned that IAMs is a P&G brand, I can’t continue buying this product for him.  I was kind of turning a slight blind eye to feeding him IAMs because I didn’t want to put his health at risk by not giving him this food, yet on the other hand, I don’t want to put his health at risk by giving him this food.

So today, rather than live in continued ignorance, I am researching about struvite crystals.  Furball has been diagnosed as having struvite crystals in his urine and these were the cause of his original case of a blocked bladder.   When he first had the problem, I couldn’t accept the vet’s diagnosis that the low pH food might help, but that once he had this problem, he would always be prone to it.  My friend’s brother’s cat had this problem recur so often that he had surgery to remove part of his urethra (aka snip that penis) and now the cat suffers from occasional incontinence.

So, I took Furball to a holistic vet who told me of cases that she treated and of cats that had been brought to her despite following the prescribed diet.  Her advice was to give him lots of water so that the crystals would always be diluted and that the increase in urination would keep the crystals moving through his system.  She recommended what seemed like an insane amount of water.  I forget the amount exactly, but it was very precise lik 543mL or something like that.  I followed her advice by adding water to Furball’s meals (probably not as much as she recommended, but still a lot of water) and Furball was fine for about four years until he had a recurrence in 2007.

At that time, I didn’t know why he had the recurrence since I gave him so much water.  The vet mentioned that it might just be because Furball was getting older.  So I decided to put him on the formula for minimizing struvite crystals.  I did note that the vet’s advice seemed to contradict the technician’s comments.  The technician who first examined Furball was very surprised that he had not had a recurrence in several years.  He thought that was really good and quite out of the ordinary.  He also was surprised to learn that Furball was seven, he thought he was a lot younger.

One thing to note of importance.  When I took Furball to the vet with early signs of urinary discomfort, the first vet said the cat was fine after examining him, that was until he peed in his box and there was blood in it.   However, the best thing he did was to tell me the cat was overweight.  I had asked several vets about an ideal weight and they all said something to the effect that Furball was fine, but shouldn’t gain any more weight. This was the first doctor to tell me point blank that the cat was fat and should lose weight.

In a subsequent visit months later, a different vet at the animal hospital remarked that it was great that Furball had lost weight.  I asked her if the weight loss would help with the blocked bladder and she said it definitely would.  Why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner?  I would have put him on a diet years ago.

With the weight loss and learning that his formula is made by P&G, I think it’s worthwhile to reconsider switching Furball’s food.  I’ve decided that if I’m going to consider taking him off IAMs, I should make an educated decision.  Here’s my action list:

  • Call the vet to see if there is an alternate formula.
  • I found a great article about Feline Cystitis.  It shed a lot of light.  Basically struvite crystals form when the urine has a high pH (alkaline).  The diets work because they are acidic and help to bring down the pH balance of the urine.  The article also mentioned, “It has been shown that environmental stress can produce the opposite of acidic (alkaline) urine. This is why cases of feline cystitis are associated with stress, e.g. travel, new pets, new people etc.”  This helped me understand why Furball had the recurrence.  It happened shortly after we moved (high stress).  Then, my husband accidentally dropped the cutlery tray causing a huge crashing sound and knives and forks flying across the kitchen while the cat was in the room.  Finally, we had a minor earthquake that freaked the cat out so much that he wouldn’t eat for a half a day.  If you know Furball, NOTHING stops him from eating.
  • I’m researching foods for urinary tract health.  I found Wysong Vitality has a formula to promote a  healthy urinary tract and low pH.
  • This Blakkatz website says that low pH dry foods can also cause problems.
  • I’ve been told wet foods are better, but most are made by Menu Foods and Furball started having problems with wet food after the pancreatitis.
  • Look for a holistic vet where we live.  This whole issue is so complicated I need the opinion of a professional.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • How would you like to take an action that is natural and could prevent future health issues for your cat?  If your cat is overweight, start him/her on a diet after discussing this with your vet.
  • If you have any information on natural methods for dealing with struvite crystals, please leave a message by clicking the “Comments” link below.  Thank you.

Related Articles


You might also like:


Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.
Check out Furball's cat toy book
Spoil Your Kitty the Green Way
Get Furball's cute ebook full of oodles of eco-friendly cat toys that are fun and easy to make.
Learn more >>

  Pets Business Directory - BTS Local