Given Furball’s latest bout of blocked bladder, I felt it would be a good idea to summarize everything I’ve learned about natural ways to prevent urinary problems in cats. The primary focus of this blog post is on managing crystals in cat urine, specifically struvite crystals as this Furball’s primary issue when it comes to cat urinary health.
This is the second time he’s had a completely blocked bladder, the first occurence was 7 years ago. I attribute the second case to the water he was drinking. Long story short, he was getting stale water that had been sitting around for months. My fault for giving him the “emergency water” when we should have just used it for watering the garden. Anyhow, let’s move on to the positives.
Many cats with struvite crystals and feline urinary tract problems tend to have recurrences and according to the technician at the vet, it happens much more frequently than every 7 years. In light of this, I’ll keep Furball on his current plan to promote cat urinary tract health. The problem was we deviated from the plan and I’ll make sure this never happens again.
So, here are six natural ways to prevent cat urinary problems if the cat has struvite crystals in their urine.
- Feed your cat wet cat food instead of dry to promote a healthy urinary tract. This advice was from Furball’s holistic vet. She explained that the prescription diets usually add ammonium chloride to the food to increase the acidity (decrease the pH level) of the cat’s urine, which helps to control struvite crystals. I found a study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2003 that concluded, “Our results indicate that compared with dietary supplementation with NH4Cl, the high-protein diet is preferable as a urine acidifier for the prevention of struvite crystal formation in clinically normal cats.” The regular vet also recommended wet cat food over dry cat food and said that studies have proven that this reduces the struvite crystals in the cat’s urine.
- Ensure your cat is a healthy weight. Being overweight increases a cat’s odds of getting a recurrent blocked bladder.
- Give your cat lots of water. This advice was given to me by Furball’s first holistic vet. She said that increasing his water intake kept things flowing through his system to help reduce the concentration of struvite crystals in his urine. I added water to Furball’s food as he wouldn’t drink it normally. A caveat to this advice is that Furballs second holistic vet said that cats should get their moisture from their food as opposed to drinking water, otherwise it would cause a strain on their kidneys. Talk to your vet about what’s best for your cat.4
- Feed your cat a low grain, high protein diet. The second holistic vet we took Furball to explained that a high protein diet would increase the acidity (decrease the pH level) of the cat’s urine. This contradicts some common advice out there which suggests that high protein diets (especially fish) will increase the level of magnesium in the cat’s urine, thus increasing their risk for struvite crystals. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has an article which states, “Previously, the ash content-and more recently, the magnesium content-of the diet was thought to be a primary cause of struvite formation in the urine. However, researchers have found that urine pH is a more important contributing factor”.
- Feed your cat several smaller meals a day as opposed to one or two large meals. Cats fed this way tend to produce a more acidic urine.
- Minimize stress in your cat’s life. Stress affects cat urinary tract health just like it does human health. If there’s a stressful event, be sure to give your cat extra attention and reassurance for several days.
If you’re looking for suggestions for high protein, low grain cat food, here’s a list that was recommended by our holistic vet: