If you have cats or know people with cats, chances are you have heard of FLUTD, or Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder. This term refers to any disorder or disease that affects the bladder or urethra in cats. This can included urinary blockage, stones, crystals, or infections. 50% off all cats diagnosed with FLUTD have an unknown cause for the disorders1. However, there are proven ways to prevent ever having these conditions at all.
The Kibble Conundrum
Cats are designed to get their water intake from their prey. An average feline prey such as a mouse is 70%-80% water while an average bowl of kibble is 6%-10% moisture. Felines are used to receiving their moisture from their prey, and will not drink enough water separately to account for the difference lost in kibble2. Cats have a highly concentrated urine compared to other mammals, and when they eat kibble their urine becomes even more concentrated and is more likely to form crystals. This concentrated urine puts cats at risk for urinary crystals, stones and bladder irritation3.
The Prescription Solution
When you take a cat that is showing signs of FLUTD to the vet, they will typically recommend a prescription diet that will regulate urinary and bladder crystals with synthetic chemicals. These substances will dissolve stones, reduce crystals and balance urinary pH4 but unfortunately are attached to a low-quality kibble and may even cause kidney disease5. These prescription diets are full of grain or starch fillers and preservatives, are low in meat and nutrition, and are devastatingly low in water6. The above mentioned prey mouse is 50%-60% protein and 30% fat. Cats need protein and fat, not grains and carbohydrates. Real meat will help maintain an acidic pH in a cat’s urinary tract by dissolving minerals in the urine so that they can be excreted7.
Canned is Good, Raw is Better
In most cases, all you need to do to prevent FLUTD is increase your cat’s hydration8. No, not with a water fountain. Kick all that kibble out of the house and switch to a canned, frozen raw, or homemade raw diet. Canned and raw food is at least 70% moisture, just like a mouse! When your cat eats wet food, it will pee but you will probably notice it drinks a lot less water9 which is a good thing. Raw food, unlike canned, will actually clean cat’s teeth and increase gum health10, which can prevent further infections down the road. If you live in a situation that prevents you from feeding your feline a raw diet, a high-quality canned food is a good option because it provides the moisture and protein a cat needs to avoid getting FLUTD. Don’t just look for meat to be the first ingredient. Be aware to avoid foods that contain “meat meal” in the ingredients, as that can be a combination of pieces other than muscle and actually reduce protein content11. Secondly, even ‘grain-free’ cat foods may contain fillers such as potato, carrot, pumpkin and other carbohydrates that a cat doesn’t need. These fillers can make their way into both canned and commercial raw cat foods, so be sure to check the ingredient list.
Holistic Supplements and Tips
An unbalanced urinary tract can sometimes be the result of stress in the household. Did you just move? Is there a new pet or human in the house? Calming scents, herbal tonics and tinctures and even acupuncture and acupressure can help reduce feline stress. We recommend Animal Apawthecary’s Tinkle Tonic to fight urinary infections12, and if you are feeding a canned diet try adding All The Best’s Enzymes for Cats to replace the natural digestive enzymes lost in the cooking process. If you don’t know what is best for your cat, get in contact with a holistic veterinarian. Some veterinarians know less about the cause of feline diseases than how to treat their symptoms. Holistic veterinarians will look at the source of the problem and should be slower to whip out the prescription pad.
Fritz & Michael
Fritz Patrick Fantastic (8) and Michael J Meow (2) are two cats who were both diagnosed with FLUTD and have been living on a prescription diet and medication to keep the flare-ups from happening. Their owner had heard the benefits of a raw diet, and decided to try it thinking it would help a bit. She was blown away to see that while they were eating raw, 100% of their flare-ups stopped, they got off their meds, and they showed no symptoms of their diagnosed disorder. Their veterinarian originally advised against a raw diet, but after seeing how well Michael and Fritz were doing he changed his opinion and even started recommending raw to other patients.
Most of the feline diseases that we see so commonly these days were not common prior to the invention of kibble. In fact, in a study done on 198 wild cats, none of them had urinary stones13. Feeding your cat a diet that is rich in moisture and protein will increase your cat’s health overall, prevent urinary disorders down the line, and hopefully spare you from a surprise animal hospital bill. Your cat will thank you.
1. Veterinary Partner
2. Timothy A. Allen, David J. Polzin and Larry G. Adams, “Renal Disease,” Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th ed. Walsworth Publishing Company, 2000, 582.
3. Feline Nutrition
4. Medic Animal
5. Feline Nutrition
6. Only Natural Pet
7. The Bark N Purr
8. Path With Paws
9. Raw Fed
10. Fagan, et al, “Influence of Diet Consistency on Periodontal Disease in Captive Carnivores.
11. Feline Nutrition
12. All the Best Pet Care
13. Y. H. Cottam, P. Caley, S. Wamberg and W. H. Hendriks, “Feline Reference Values for Urine Composition,” The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, The Journal of Nutrition, no. 132, June 2002, 1754S-1756S.