W hat you feed your cat has a major impact on how easily – or challenging – the food breaks down in the digestive tract and how much and how much excess waste escapes from your cat’s body.
Not only is food a fuel for strengthening the body, but the right foods can also help fight off disease, especially a variety of urinary problems.
Make a diet plan for cats with urinary problems
It’s easy to get confused when it comes to choosing food for your cat in-store or online. You may secretly wish you were a veterinary nutritionist. But don’t get angry. Help is here. Catster has reached out to two of the country’s leading cat and cat nutrition agencies to help you come up with a food game plan that will keep your feline friend healthy.
First: Joseph Bartges, DVM, PhD, Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens.
“I believe cats should be given a high-protein, low-carb diet that is more natural than the prey they would eat if they were wild,” he says. “A higher moisture content could be better from a urinary health perspective. We can use diet to modify the urine to prevent stone build-up and to help cats with idiopathic cystitis (a general term used to describe urinary tract disease with no apparent cause). “
Next up: Hazel Carney, DVM, DABVP, member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) policy committee and employee of the WestVet Emergency and Specialty Center in Garden City, Idaho.
“I urge cat owners to feed their cats mostly canned food,” she says. “Everything I have seen and known scientifically about cats supports the use of canned food. We need to get more moisture in cats because cats are notorious for not drinking water and their bodies are designed to suck water out of everything. High quality diets give water cats the need for canned food. “
Beyond the diet
From the day she rescued and adopted her three now older cats named Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Hi Ho Silver, Dr. Carney helped prevent any of them from developing urinary stones or crystals and urinary obstruction. She feeds them high quality canned food with nibbles in food puzzles. Where she places her bowls also plays a big role in her overall health.
“Cats don’t naturally eat and drink in the same place in the wild when they have the opportunity because they don’t want to contaminate their food with water,” she explains. “Cats don’t want to have visual eye contact with each other during meals, as this can cause stress and lead to many health problems. That’s why I make sure that all of my cats are fed separately without being able to see each other. “
Offer your cat tasty liquids like water-based tuna juice, clam juice, or salt-free chicken or beef broth. In addition to keeping your cat hydrated, nutritional supplements can also help fight urinary tract disease. Dr. Bartges touts the healthy benefits of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in commercial cat foods, as well as probiotics, which are believed to help good gut bacteria thrive.
Dr. Carney sees the value of talking to your veterinarian about adding these two important supplements to your cat’s diet:
- Cycles: a milk protein additive made from casein. The calming properties reduce stress.
- Cosequin: A natural supplement that works for bladder and joint problems. It comes in a capsule (open and sprinkle into your cat’s food) or as a chewable treat.
Cat food for urinary problems
While male cats are at greater risk, any cat at any age can develop urinary stones or crystals, urinary tract infections, blockages, and a host of other problems. Some emerge quickly while others evolve over time.
Booking bi-annual or annual physical exams for your cat can help your veterinarian identify early on a condition where treatment may be more effective.
If your cat is diagnosed with a urinary problem that requires a diet prescribed by your veterinarian, the good news is that there are more therapeutic diets now in canned and dry food than there were a decade ago.
Dr. Bartges says, “No diet or pet food company makes the best food for a given patient under certain circumstances. The good news, however, is that there are options. “
He points out the value of Royal Canin, Hills, Purina, and Blue Buffalo urinary care diets and is considering bespoke, homemade diets formulated by a certified veterinary nutritionist. For more information, please visit acvn.org.
Dr. Carney says, “These therapeutic diets have been tested and shown to benefit cats with interstitial cystitis or urinary problems. The three big companies – Hills, Royal Canin and Purina – have controlled feeding trials that screened the cat’s overall health and I was invited to visit their testing facilities. “
She adds that therapeutic diets are medically beneficial for cats with urinary problems.
“Cats can die from constipation and toxins, so deciding what to feed your cat is a big deal,” says Dr. Carney. “I recommend canned food, lots of bowls of water around the house, and using dry food in food puzzles to exercise your mind and body.”
Featured image: adamdowdee282 | Getty Images
Continue reading: Does your cat not drink water? 10 ways to get your cat to drink more water