There is a commonsense and natural way to deal with feline urinary tract infections and inflammations. I was prompted to write this because my recent post set out the ten most common cat illnesses. The number one slot is occupied by urinary tract infections (UTIs). I also have first hand experience of caring for a cat who had a urinary tract infection.
We have to start with water and the amount of water a cat drinks and/or ingests when eating. I have known for some time that cats on a dry food (kibble) diet do not compensate for the lack of moisture in the food by drinking more water. A high water content is present in animals that are the prey of wild cats and in canned cat food (wet cat food).
The book: Nutrient Requirements of Cats, Revised Edition 1986 by the Subcommittee on Cat Nutrition, Committee on Animal Nutrition, Board on Agriculture, National Research Council of the USA, states at page 29 that the non fat component of mammals contains about 73% water. In other words we are mainly made up of water as are other mammals. See the book.
The authors also make the following important point. A number of studies have been conducted into the “ratio of free water to dry matter intake of cats”. Free water is liquids drunk (water) and/or the water content in solid food (e.g. canned food).
These studies showed that the ratio of water to dry matter intake was as follows:
- For commercial dry cat food: between 2 and 2.8 and 1
- For canned cat food: between 3 to 5.7 and 1
In other words the water intake is higher, up to twice as high, when a cat eats canned cat food.
To summarise and I will quote:
All studies on water and dry matter intakes of cats indicate higher total free water to dry matter ratios for cats given commercial canned food diets than for cats given commercial dry food.”
This squares up with my personal experience. At the time my cat was getting UTIs I was feeding her dry cat food under the instructions of my vet. She was a bit overweight and the vet recommended Hills l/d.
Subsequently on the advice of another vet (a more honest one I would suggest) I fed her a mixed diet including some dry for grazing and some wet food including microwaved frozen fish with added water. Her UTI problems disappeared and have not returned for many years (see my comment on the common illnesses page for what I do if that interests you).
My personal experiences and the studies referred to above are supported by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins DVM an American vet who wrote, Your Cat, a book that is about the influence of the modern domestic cat diet on cat health.
In respect of the feline urinary tract infection she that “the problem is dry cat food”. These are plant based cat foods. They cause a high pH (alkaline) urine. This in turn is an unnatural state of affairs in a cat’s bladder causing inflammation (page 170). She also makes the exact same point as referred to in the studies. Cats have “a low thirst-drive to consume free water…” This is because of the cat’s evolutionary origins. The cat that is exclusively on dry cat food is dehydrated. This leads to concentrated urine. This highly concentrated urine can lead to feline urinary tract infection and inflammation.
Dr. Hodgkins also, by the way, says that today’s indoor cats that always eat dry cat food that has a very high sugar content can contract diabetes if they have a genetic tendency to become obese “and/or become diabetic” (page 148). That is another subject.
Conclusion: feed a balanced diet of dry cat food for grazing, say at night, wet cat food (canned) and treats but not an exclusively dry diet which is cheap and convenient for us. I would recommend trying the fish and added water supplemental diet as mentioned if your cat likes or accepts fish.
Feline urinary tract infections can be caused by diet.
A low magnesium diet is also recommended for feline urinary tract infections but this is a less natural and sensible way of dealing with UTI in my opinion. The theory behind a low magnesium diet is that the salts that form the crystals that block the urinary tract are high in magnesium – reduce that and the blockage is less likely to form. It is argued that this does not deal with the underlying cause: dry cat food.
Best Dry Cat Food (USA)
Best Canned Cat Food (USA)