Preventing Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Many cats experience a recurrence of FLUTD when they return to their former food. To prevent recurrence, your veterinarian may suggest feeding your cat a prescription diet, such as Hill's Feline c/d(s) for struvite uroliths or c/d(o) for calcium oxalate uroliths, for six to nine months. Switch to the prevention diet when your veterinarian has determined that your cat is free of symptoms and the urine is free of crystals. The procedure for introducing a new diet is to gradually mix it in with old food over the course of about ten days, adding more and more of the new food and less and less of the old until the switch is complete.
If the cat remains free of symptoms and urinary crystals for six to nine months, your veterinarian may suggest a moderately restricted magnesium diet, or some combination of prescription diets that produce an acidic or alkaline urine, depending on your cat's situation. High-acid diets are not recommended for elderly cats. Cranberry capsules may be a safe long-term additive to encourage bladder health.
The cat's urine should be checked every six months. If the cat develops new signs of illness while on a maintenance diet, your veterinarian may advise you to switch back to one of the prescription diets already mentioned.
There are also other steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of the cat developing excessive urinary sediment or infection.
Cats with repeated attacks of FLUTD that don't respond to the preventive measures listed here should have complete veterinary evaluation, searching for uroliths and other abnormalities in the urinary tract
The question arises about whether all adult cats should be placed on a special diet as a prophylactic measure to prevent FLUTD. Considering that 99 percent of cats are not affected by FLUTD, regardless of diet, and that other factors besides diet are important in the etiology of this syndrome, feeding a severely restricted diet to all cats probably is not justified. However, feeding canned food is desirable for this and many other reasons.
Most cat food manufacturers have reduced the levels of magnesium in their products and added L-methionine, a urinary acidifier. This should provide some protection against FLUTD when it involves struvite crystals or uroliths. Remember that while most dietary information for cats with urinary problems relates to struvite uroliths, many cats suffer from calcium oxalate uroliths and need a different therapy plan.
This article is excerpted from “Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” with permission from Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Copyright © 2008 by Delbert Carlson, DVM, and James M. Giffin, MD. All rights reserved.