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.

  • Keep the litter box clean. It should be scooped at least twice a day and the litter changed whenever it smells. Some cats refuse to use a dirty litter box. This can result in voluntary retention of urine.
  • Encourage water consumption by keeping clean, fresh water available at all times. Feeding canned foods will also provide your cat with more liquid in her diet. Some cats can be induced to drink more by providing a small water fountain or leaving a faucet dripping.
  • Prevent obesity. Maintain normal body weight by restricting food intake, as discussed in chapter 18. Encourage your cat to exercise by engaging in regular interactive play sessions.
  • Minimize stress as much as possible.
  • Glucosamine supplements may be beneficial in preventing a recurrence, as these substances are thought to protect the lining of the bladder.
  • Occasionally, a cat will not consume a prescription diet. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend other diets, supplements, or recipes for home-cooked diets.

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.