Tag Archives: struvite crystals

Natural Ways to Promote Cat Urinary Tract Health

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.
In general though this has been very effective to help calm me down with Buy Valium no real adverse side effects.

So, here are six natural ways to prevent cat urinary problems if the cat has struvite crystals in their urine.

  1. 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.
  2. Ensure your cat is a healthy weight. Being overweight increases a cat’s odds of getting a recurrent blocked bladder.
  3. 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
  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”.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

Please Send Positive Energy to Furball – He Had a Blocked Bladder Again

It’s been 7 years since Furball had a blocked bladder. Unfortunately, it happened again just a few days ago. I noticed the signs early (straining, constant walking in and out of his box trying to pee, but nothing coming out, trying to pee on the floor, etc.) and got him to a vet straightaway. This is one of those times where the allopathic vet is definitely preferred over the holistic vet. A blocked bladder can be life-threatening, so this is not the time to be fussing around with acupuncture points and herbs. It’s time for western medical intervention.

The vet inserted a catheter in Furball and gave him subcutaneous fluids as well as some medications to help relax the smooth muscle of his urethra. That seemed to do the trick, but when I went to pick Furball up, he had blocked up again. This resulted in round 2 of sedation and catheter insertion. Fortunately, he unblocked again and I was able to take him home the next day, but mainly because it was Saturday and the vet was closing for the weekend. They quite happily showed me a small vial of what looked like white powder, but was actually the struvite crystals that they had expressed from his bladder.

Today, Furball looked like he was straining again so I whisked him to the emergency clinic. They examined him and said that his bladder was empty and told me to just take him home and watch him. I’ve been watching him closely and do see small dribbles of urine in his box, but he visits his box every few hours without being able to urinate. As long as I keep seeing some urine, I’ll hold off on taking him to the emergency clinic and will wait until tomorrow morning to take him to the regular vet.

If the problem persists, the recommended treatment is surgery. I won’t get into the details here, but the abbreviation for the surgery is PU, which sounds a lot like pee-ewww (like the sound you make when something stinks). This would be an appropriate description.

I’m hoping Furball continues peeing even if it is in small dribbles. I’ve been rubbing his Back Shu points for the kidney and bladder and even have tried to guess where the reflexology point for the urethra is on a cat.

I don’t take it all the time only when I have consistent anxiety and it does help the awful closed throat, heavy heart feeling I get before Buy Valium I have an anxiety attack.

Please wish him well. Thank you.

Furball, happy and playing in this pic
Furball, happy and playing in this pic

Understanding Why Your Vet Has Prescribed Hill’s C/D

Here’s a guest post by Adrienne DeArmas. She shares her incredibly detailed research into struvite crystals and a cat’s diet. Thanks for sharing your findings Adrienne!

Struvite vs. Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Struvite crystals are usually formed in response to urine that is saturated with magnesium, ammonium and phosphorus combined with an alkaline urinary pH (not acidic enough). So, the goal of pet food manufacturers is to lower magnesium and phosphorus, thereby increasing the acid level in the urine. BUT, increasing the level too much can cause the calcium oxalate crystals so you don’t want to go too far in the other direction.

How do struvite crystals form in the first place? #1 cause is grain-based food #2 not enough moisture (dry food diet). If you are not going to feed a raw diet, get a water fountain ASAP. Or, you can always make your own out of a fish tank pump and a bowl full of rocks. The latter is harder to keep clean for some reason, never figured that out. Also, make sure you filter the chlorine from the tap water your cats drink with a Brita or similar type product. Another option: get a rain barrel and use that water (as long as the water is not coming off an asbestos roof etc). #3 and, believe it or not, STRESS.

Water

Cat’s don’t need it if you feed a raw diet, they do if you don’t. Canned food has water, dry food does not. It is a marketing myth that dry food is good for cleaning cat’s teeth. Dry food has one purpose: a cat owner’s convenience. Cats prefer dry food to canned food like people prefer potato chips to carrots. Salt (sodium, sodium chloride) is often added to make cats thirsty, thereby encouraging water consumption.

pH: Alkaline vs. Acidic

The recommended urinary pH for cats is 6.0-6.5. Want to test your cat’s urine ph? Go to Petsmart and get a pond water test strip. I use Jungle Lab’s simply because that’s what my PetSmart carries but there are others out there. Simply dunk the strip in the urine after he pees I would imagine. Never done it but it should work.

Ignorance and Greed

Veterinarians are usually not nutritionists. They recommend prescription diets like Hill’s and Royal eta-i.org/provigil.html Canin because the manufacturers’ reps come to them and sell them on the products. Plus, veterinarians get “kickbacks” on the sale of the food.

What To Look For in a Cat Food

  1. Grain-free is best (especially avoiding any corn products)
  2. No by-products
  3. Not processed at a plant like Menu Foods or Diamond so that you can rest easy about recalls due to contamination
  4. A 4th factor, depending on your politics, is animal testing. Yep, that’s right, there are actually pet food manufacturers that keep laboratory animals for testing food and the testing they do is unbelievable. You don’t want to know how they determine how much zinc makes it into puppy’s teeth and nails after 5 weeks of a special diet… IAMS (also makes Eukanuba) is a vile company. I’ll send you references if you want, but I can’t look at the pics. Hill’s and Purina are also on the list but I will be honest – I cannot do much research on this topic – it upsets me too much. If PETA and ASPCA say they do it, that’s good enough for me.

NOTE: If your veterinarian insists on a “prescription” diet, you can tell him or her about Wysong Struvatrol or find a new vet. Struvatrol™ is designed to provide nutritional support to the urinary tract and production of acidic urine through archetypal nutritional balances, biochemically rich ingredients and non-thermal processing.

What you feed your cat is your decision. What your cat eats is ultimately his or her decision. If your child only wanted to eat candy bars, would you let them? WARNING: cats are stubborn and will not eat if they don’t like their food!! This can be life-threatening, so be prepared to try different varieties and mix them in with their current food, changing the ratio over time until they are eating good food. Switching cats from dry food to canned is often seemingly impossible. You may waste good (expensive) food to start, but just think of the vet bills you’ll save later!!

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Food Comparison Chart

References

A Natural Diet for Struvite Crystals and Furball’s Visit to the Holistic Vet

Furball was vomiting on and off for the past week so we took him to see Dr. Sara Skiwski, a holistic medicine veterinarian. As a Holistic Veterinarian, Dr. Skiwski (aka Dr. Sara), is not only a licensed veterinarian, she also studied veterinary acupuncture and herbs. I had been wanting to take Furball to see a holistic vet to discuss what would be the best diet for him given that he has struvite crystals and also had a bout of pancreatitis about two years ago.

I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his current diet of 1/2 Pinnacle dry cat food and 1/2 IAMS prescription diet for struvite crystals. Let me clarify that I love the Pinnacle brand of cat food, but my concerns are about the IAMs food. I discovered on Day 21 of my new year’s resolution of the 30-Day Green Cat Challenge that IAMs was owned by Proctor and Gamble, a company I had boycotted for over a decade because of ethical concerns about how they run their business. Plus, I had noticed that Furball’s coat went dull when he was fed a 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} diet of the prescription diet for struvite crystals.

However, when I researched natural methods for dealing with struvite crystals as well as organic foods, I was overwhelmed by how complicated it was to find a natural diet for struvite crystals. I decided the best thing to do was to consult with a holistic vet. Furball was probably sending me a hint to go sooner rather than later as he started hacking up hairballs and gooey spit-up about two weeks ago. His appetite also decreased, which is highly unusual for the cat who loves to eat anything and everything and he was a bit cranky too. I was going to take him to see his regular vet, but the cat’s vomiting seemed to stabilize and then taper off.

The appointment with the holistic vet was a week away. I booked the appointment, then cancelled it when Furball got better. Then, Furball promptly vomited up some more gooey spit, so I rebooked the appointment. At that point, I decided regardless of whether he was better or worse, I’d take Furball in for a check-up. I’m glad we kept the appointment.

Furball’s fine. However, I gained some valuable insights into how struvite crystals, pancreatitis and vomiting/gastrointestinal issues are related to diet. Dr. Sara also gave us a recommended list of natural cat foods that would be beneficial for our cat. The list is like gold to me because I didn’t know where to start. I’m going to research each product over the next few weeks and post my findings.

In the meantime, here’s a summary of what I learned. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO SELF-MEDICATE YOUR CAT BASED ON THIS INFORMATION OR CHANGE YOUR CAT’S DIET WITHOUT CONSULTING WITH YOUR VET FIRST. I may have misheard what Dr. Sara said or misunderstood it or remembered it incorrectly. I’m also paraphrasing and adding my own opinion. The information is provided only as a starting point for your own research into natural diets for struvite crystals and pancreatits. You should always SEE A LICENSED VETERINARIAN FIRST!

  1. What’s good for humans is NOT GOOD for cats. People benefit from seeds and plant oils such as flaxseed oil. However, these types of fats are not beneficial to cats because cats are carnivores. Cats are completely carnivorous and would do just fine on a diet of only animal protein. In fact, flaxseed oil could actually trigger pancreatitis because the cat’s pancreas is not designed to process this type of fat.
  2. Cats should not be eating carbohydrates. This includes wheat, rice, corn, etc. As mentioned above, cats are carnivores. Carbohydrates have a higher pH level (lower acidity) which actually contributes to the formation of struvite crystals. Dry foods are full of carbs.
  3. A higher acid diet (lower pH) helps to prevent the formation of struvite crystals. What this means from a natural perspective, is that a higher protein diet will naturally result in a diet with a higher level of acidity. Unfortunately, many commercial cat foods for managing struvite crystals raise the acidity level of their formulas by adding ammonium chloride to their products. I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that ammonium chloride is not the same as animal protein.
  4. In general, canned food naturally has more moisture and animal protein than dry cat food. While the label may say x amount of protein, this figure is determined by measuring what’s left over after the food is burned down to its basic composition. There’s no distinction between animal protein and plant protein, or melamine for that matter.
  5. The moisture level and high animal protein in a quality canned food should be sufficient to help reduce struvite crystals. Even though we add large amounts of water to Furball’s dry food, it’s not the same as him getting his fluid from wet food. The water needs to soak into the dry food. This is better than him drinking the water because cats naturally metabolize their water better through their intestines. By drinking the water, the cat’s kidneys are forced to do most of the work. This can lead to kidney issues later on in life.
  6. High heat rapid cooking alters the structure of the oils in food, making them not that healthy for your pet. Slow-cooking at lower temperatures is better. This is much like how olive oil is good for you unless you heat it at a high temperature.

Based on this information, we’re ready to start transitioning Furball very slowly to a diet of wet food only. One other thing to note, the holistic vet said it was ok to give Furball the small amounts of grapeseed extract found in his PetzLife natural dental care product. In fact, she was selling the product in her office.

Here’s the list of brands/foods that the holistic vet recommended:

There were a few other brands, but I couldn’t find them online (possibly renamed?). The brands on this list are the ones that the holistic vet has experience with. They’re all high animal protein with low or no grain content. I’ll be researching them over the next few weeks to decide which to try. Although, Furball’s finicky feline palate may be the determining factor ;).

Check Out Furball’s Cat Toy Book!
Furball loves to play and was so hyperactive as a kitten that I invented dozens of toys and games for him and even wrote a book about them. The book features instructions for over 50 cat toys that are not only eco-friendly, but also can be made in minutes, if not seconds, from stuff you have around the home.

If you’ve ever bought a fancy cat toy and found your cat preferred the bag it came in, please check out Make Your Own Cat Toys.

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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.