No one knows exactly why cats develop FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), but many veterinarians believe diet is the main culprit. FLUTD describes a variety of conditions that affect a cat's bladder, including stones, crystals and cystitis. Symptoms of FLUTD include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, crying out in the litter box, not using the box and passing little or no urine. In male cats, FLUTD is a medical emergency and can be fatal.
Canned food keeps cats well hydrated and produces dilute urine, an environment that is inhospitable to the formation of stones and crystals. Feed your cat with FLUTD several small meals a day, or free feed canned food the way you would dry. It won't go bad, even if left out for several hours.
Raw food most closely resembles a cat's natural diet and helps the urine maintain the proper pH to prevent stones and crystals. Most independent pet supply stores sell frozen raw cat food. To transition your cat to raw, mix about 1/8 tsp in with its regular canned food. Gradually increase the amount until raw food is all the cat is eating.
Homemade food lets you both control the quality of the ingredients in your cat's food and add the additional moisture necessary to maintain urinary tract health. To ensure that your cat is getting all the nutrients it needs, ask your veterinarian for a recipe or look for one online (see Resources).
Canned Food with Gravy
Canned cat food with "gravy" or "sauce" contains some of the additional moisture so necessary for cats prone to FLUTD. Check the labels on the cans, and avoid brands that contain wheat gluten or soy. Both are common ingredients in cat food with gravy or sauce. However, cats don't use protein from grains efficiently, and the carbohydrates in these foods can cause the cat's blood sugar to rise.
Deli turkey or chicken with no preservatives or artificial flavourings, bonito flakes and treats made from freeze-dried chicken or fish are the best treats for cats prone to FLUTD. Avoid the supermarket treats that resemble dry food.
Encourage your cat to drink by adding a small amount of unsalted chicken broth to its water and placing the water bowl several feet away from the food dishes. Well hydrated cats with diluted urine and are less likely to develop FLUTD.