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What to Do If Your Cat Has Urinary Problems

Blog

8 April 2021

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Is your cat prone to urinary problems? In the blog below we will go over what you need to know about urinary problems in cats and why they develop as well as how they can be treated and prevented.

 How do urinary crystals in cats form?

There are many types of uroliths (bladder stones); however, the two common in cats are struvite or MAP (magnesium ammonium phosphate) and calcium oxalate uroliths. If the pH of the urine is too alkaline, this creates a favorable environment for struvite crystals to form. On the other hand, if the pH of the urine is too acidic, a favorable environment is created for calcium oxalate crystal formation. It is a delicate balance to keep the urine pH in an optimal pH range to prevent both types of crystals.

How to know if my cat is suffering from urinary stones or blockages?

Urinary stones in cats are common which is why it is important to watch out for the signs. Severe damage or even death can result if a urinary stone or crystal is left untreated.

Here are some common symptoms of a urinary stone or crystal:

  • Frequent urination
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Blood in the urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Crying out while urinating
  • Excessive licking of the genital area

If your cat is experiencing any of the above, they may have a urinary infection, stone, or crystal and should be examined by a veterinarian.

I believe my cat may have a urinary stone, what are the next steps?

If you’ve determined that your cat may have a urinary stone or blockage, it is best to follow the steps listed below.

Step 1 – Immediately take your cat to the veterinarian for examination, as a blockage can be life-threatening.

Step 2 – If a stone is found, follow your veterinarian’s advice to treat it. Depending on the type of stone and severity of the problem, your veterinarian may determine that the stone needs to be physically removed. Otherwise, for some cases of struvite uroliths, they may recommend dissolution through dietary means. In this case, a special prescription diet may be prescribed that will acidify the urine. Because of the nature of struvite uroliths, they cannot be sustained in a pH of less than 6.3 and the urolith will dissolve under these conditions.

Step 3 – Once the offending urolith has been removed or dissolved, your veterinarian will likely recommend switching your cat to a urinary maintenance diet. While the dissolution diet is designed to produce urine with a pH of less than 6.3, a urinary maintenance diet is typically designed to maintain urine pH between 6.3 and 6.6 – low enough that struvite crystals cannot form, but high enough to avoid risk of overacidification and formation of calcium oxalate crystals. 

Step 4 – Monitor your cat in case symptoms reappear and continue to feed your cat a urinary maintenance diet to prevent crystal reformation.

What is the difference between a prescription and a maintenance diet?

A maintenance formula is not intended to treat cats suffering from crystals, stones, or blockages, but to prevent only. Prescription diets are formulated to dissolve struvite crystals by drastically acidifying the urine and therefore physically dissolving the crystals. Once the crystals are dissolved, the cat may be taken off this food and put on a urinary maintenance diet to prevent the crystals from reforming. After treatment, a urinary maintenance diet, such as Care Urinary Health is designed to prevent both types of crystals from reoccurring. 

How does the Care Urinary Health formula work?

Nutrience Urinary Health uses fresh, never frozen Canadian sourced meat, fruits, vegetables, and botanicals to create a healthy, balanced diet that will promote optimal urinary health.

As mentioned above, favorable environments for crystals are created when urine pH is imbalanced one way or the other. Our Urinary Health diet is formulated to balance pH, to create an unfavourable environment for formation of struvite and calcium oxalate crystals, along with containing reduced levels of dietary magnesium so that this important component of struvite crystals is unavailable for formation.

To reduce the dietary magnesium, we have thoughtfully selected our protein sources based on reduced mineral contributions including wholesome sources of vegetable protein such as potato protein in conjunction with fresh chicken and chicken meal with very low bone content.

What is the importance of combining wet food with my cat’s kibble?

Water intake plays a key role in reducing the likelihood of all types of crystal formation. When the cat drinks more water, the urine volume is increased. This means that the amount of minerals in the bladder remain the same; however, are more dispersed in a larger volume and are therefore less likely to find each other and stick together. It is crucial to make sure your cat always has fresh water! A water fountain is another great way to encourage your cat to drink more, as it keeps the water fresh and constantly flowing.

If possible, it is best to leave out a cat’s daily meal portion for them to eat slowly throughout the day. More frequent small meals help spread out mineral intake.

We always recommend feeding our canned Care Urinary Health formula to complement our dry recipe.

Is the Care Urinary Health formula suitable for all cats?

Care Urinary Health is a great preventative diet even if your cat has never had crystals. Male, sterilized cats, as well as those who have already had urinary health issues, are most at risk for developing crystals and can benefit greatly from this diet.

Sources:

Hisano, M et al. “Cranberries And Lower Urinary Tract Infection Prevention”. Clinics, vol 67, no. 6, 2012, pp. 661-667. Fundacao Faculdade De Medicina, doi:10.6061/clinics/2012(06)18. Accessed 4 Nov 2020.

Case, Linda P. Canine And Feline Nutrition. Mosby, 2011.

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