If your feline friend has been straining in the litter box or dribbling around the house, he may be battling struvite urinary tract stones. While struvite urinary stones are become less common as the quality of cat food improves, some cats still struggle with this painful condition.
One of the two types of urinary tract stones that affects cats is made struvite, which is a compound of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate. The stones are as hard as rocks and can be painful for cats to pass. Large stones may even become lodged in the urinary tract and require surgery to remove them. Female cats develop struvite stones more often, but male cats are more likely to have serious problems with struvite stones, since their urinary tract has a more narrow opening. Often, cats that develop struvite have more alkaline urine than normal. This imbalance may be caused by diet or may occur naturally.
Adding More Water
One of the most effective ways to manage struvite stones is by changing your kitty's diet. Veterinarian Lisa Pierson recommends that the most important change you can make is to transition your kitty from dry food to canned or raw food. A cat's natural diet is 70 percent water, but most dry foods are only 5-10 percent water. So, cats on dry food only are often chronically dehydrated and have more concentrated urine. Cats who eat canned or raw food tend to have better urinary health because twice as much water passes through the urinary tract, helping to minimize the formation of struvite stones by flushing the urinary tract system and helping to restore the proper acidic level in the urine. Choose foods that have high protein and low carbohydrates, and look especially for foods that are low in phosphorus. In addition to switching your feline friend to canned or raw food, you can also get him to drink more water by adding a water fountain. Cats are often more drawn to moving water, so he may drink more than he would with just a bowl of still water.
Supplementing to Help Prevent Stones
Adding supplements to your cat's diet may help balance the ph in his urine, preventing new struvite formation or even dissolving existing struvite stones. One of the best supplements to add is cranberry, either as an extract or in a supplement specifically formulated for kitties. Cranberry helps acidify the urine and provides some coating for bladder walls, both of which can help prevent the formation of struvite stones. Other good supplements include Vitamin C, slippery elm and fish oil. Glucosamine and chondrotin are also good supplements, as they are necessary for building and repairing the inner lining of the bladder. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist about supplement uses and doses before starting your cat on any additions to his diet.
Supplements to Relieve Stress
During times of stress, many kitties develop urinary tract problems, including the development of stones. Something as simple as remodeling, a new family member or even being alone during a vacation can cause enough stress to trigger a problem. If your feline friend is prone to struvite stones, you may want to add supplements to help ease his stress. Natural supplements like flower essences, lavender, or chamomile can be helpful. You might also try a pheremone spray or diffuser. If your cat is easily stressed out, talk to your vet about the possibility of anti-anxiety medication.
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