Urinary tract & kidney disease

 

The chronic dehydration caused by feeding dry food to cats plays in role in the development of Feline Lower Urinary Tract disease. Cats are carnivores with a low thirst drive, and struggle to drink enough to make up for the lack of moisture in their diet. Every attempt should be made to get these cats eating food with a high moisture content. Crystals in the urine, bladder stones and cystitis are often diagnosed in cats. 

Cats may be seen to have blood in their urine, or be squatting frequently and appear to be in pain when urinating. The condition occurs when there is inflammation in the urinary tract. The urinary tract becomes irritated and inflamed most commonly from crystals forming in the urine. The crystals form because the urine is too alkaline. Once the crystals are formed and irritate the bladder wall, a secondary bacterial infection can occur. 

The grain/starch content of commercially produced diets is too high for cats and, as a result, they produce urine with an alkaline pH. The diet may also contain too much magnesium (a component of ash in the diet) and this will also contribute to stone formation. The majority of bladder stones and crystals in cats are 'struvite'. Struvite crystals occur when the urine pH is above 6.6. A species-specific raw food diet can maintain the cat’s urine at the ideal pH (6 - 6.5), naturally preventing the formation of crystals and stones.

Dry pet foods contain excessive amounts of fibre which increases water excretion in to the colon and decreases water excretion through the urinary tract. This makes the urine very concentrated. The combination of concentrated urine at a pH above 6.6 makes for the easy formation of crystal and stones, and a very uncomfortable cat.

The most important preventive step you can take to avoid these problems is to feed your cat a high-moisture diet. Your cat is not motivated to drink enough and will need to get water from food. A raw food diet contains 80% water and will keep the urinary tract healthy by ensuring the correct pH in the bladder and a good flow of urine.

Read more about urinary tract disease here (including signs that your cat needs to see a vet urgently), and about kidney (renal) disease here.

Always tell your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is showing symptoms or urinary or renal disorders.