Does dry cat food cause urinary tract problems?

Look, if you want to really get into this topic, I’d advise you to read Lisa Pierson’s website. She is a fully qualified veterinarian and passionate about not feeding dry cat food to cats and feline urinary tract health. She’ll advocate wet food only.

Dry cat food and cat
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Unfortunately cats don’t think like this one because dry cat food is addictive because of the flavourings the manufacturers employ.

She says that a blocked urethra is very painful and a medical emergency. Cystitis is also painful. Both can be caused or exacerbated by dry cat food, she says.

The reason is that domestic cats are programmed to obtain most of their water from their prey which is made of 70% water e.g. the mouse. Dry cat food contains 5-10% water and wet cat food contains about 78% water.

As cats have a ‘low thirst drive’ they don’t make up a deficit of water when eating dry cat food by drinking more water.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

She says:

Water is the most important word when considering urinary tract health. Feeding a water-rich diet of canned or homemade food is critical for urinary tract health. Feeding dry (water-depleted) food contributes significantly to urinary tract diseases.

Those three sentences completely sum up the story regarding domestic cats feeding on dry cat food and suffering from an increased risk of developing urinary tract health problems. You don’t need more. To provide more would be to waffle.

And I am sure she’ll say that it is foolhardy for cat owners to claim that their cat is healthy on dry cat food because the health problems may well appear in the future when it is too late. Dr. Hodgkins DVM in her book Your Cat also argues strongly against dry cat food for the same reasons.

You’ll find a lot of information on the internet about this topic. It has dawned on a lot of cat owners that the super convenience of dry cat food has downsides. Veterinarians all over the planet still recommend it and push it from their clinics which is not surprising in one way: it makes them money because they work with the manufacturers. It is surprising in another way because vets swear on oath that they will not do anything against the health of their patients.

I can remember a world without dry cat food. I think it really caught on in the 1990s. A vet I visited gave me the hard sell on Hills dry cat food. It was obvious that he was on a good commission. Vets are in business. They are not a charity. This distorts their principles and undermines their oath.

The vets are not the only problem. Cat owners love the convenience of dry foods. The manufacturers know this and sell to the cat owner. That is obvious but worth stating because it means that they can alter the point of view of cat owners. They can misinform them and flog them products which do not necessarily promote feline health. Initially don’t trust any businesses 😉 Businesses need to earn your trust.

Dr Pierson’s website (the page on feline uriary tract diseases).


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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