Avoiding Urinary Tract Problems - Advice

StanAndAlf

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I work at a vet clinic, and I have seen my fair share of horror stories. Today, a male cat came in with bladder stones the size of unground pepper corns and in immense pain. Seeing as urinary issues in cats (stones, CKD etc) are such common issues nowadays, it kind of got me thinking that it might be a good idea to offer some advice to new and old forum members on some simple things you can do to avoid these painful issues.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet myself, and I am not offering medical advice. If your cat already has pre existing urinary issues, this advice is not for you. Your cat needs to be seen by a professional. The advice I am about to give will not, 100%, ensure your cat won't get urinary issues, so don't rule it out if your cat begins showing signs. Genetics also play a huge role. The following are just some little things you can be more conscious about that may help prevent these issues. The following is a mix of proven scientific research and (mainly) anecdotal that has shown to play a large role in preventing issues., so I won't be quoting any articles but I have cross referenced with the vets at my practice :)

1. Feed a moisture rich diet. Make their water dishes enticing and add some water to each wet (or raw) meal. Hydration is key for aiding kidney function and flushing toxins out of the kidneys and bladder. Unfortunately a lot of cats don't drink nearly enough water. Fresh water must be on offer all the time, and I have heard people have great success with fountains as a lot of cats like running water. Cats are picky, and the container you have their water in can affect its taste. Throw out the plastic, it can leech into the water after a while. Personally my cats love ceramic and I find this best, though stainless steel (NOT stainless steel coated) would be the next best IMO. I am also strongly against any water additives (yes, even dental ones) unless prescribed by a vet for treatment purposes. I also add 1-2 tablespoons of water to each wet meal they get. Of course if your cat won't eat the food with extra water then don't add it, but my boys love the extra 'gravy'.

2. Keep stress to a minimum. Stress has a major impact on the body, for cats and humans. Change is necessary in life, but if we can make any changes as slowly as possible then our cats have time to adjust. Personally I worked on fear conditioning with my cats by having regular visitors since they were kittens and of course regular trips to the vet for check ups. Lots of treats, praise and cuddles. Now they are both cool as cucumbers. Of course you don't have to train them to accept change, but try using calming diffusers when change comes around, creating a safe place where you can place away from any hustle and bustle, covering the carry cage with a heavy blanket when transporting and so on. Stress is a major culprit for urinary issues, so this one is a biggy.

3. Avoid any artificial scents. This one has to do with toxins in the body. That means scented candles, bug spray (the stuff is banned in my house), moth balls and so on, even cleaning products. I clean room by room so the cats are never in the same area as me when I am mopping or cleaning, and I allow the room to air before I let them have access to it again.

4. Watch the weight. Keeping our cats at a healthy weight lowers their chances of a lot of different health issues, including urinary problems. So watch the portion sizes and encourage your cat to be active, even if they are older. But it's not just exercise that's important here. It also has a lot to do with what we feed them. Fat saturated human foods, and basically anything not biologically appropriate for cats can cause kidney issues and should be avoided. Watch the phosphorous intake of elderly cats and feed high phosphorous foods in rotation for younger cats.

5. Keep the litter box and bedding clean. Bacteria breeds in dirty climates. Clean the litter box at least once daily and disinfect and refresh completely at least once a month for clumping litter. Pelleted litter is different, and different materials breed bacteria easier than others, so be sure to research what you use. If your cat has had diarrhea or GI issues, change the litter and disinfect much more regularly. I also like to let my litter box dry in the sun after disinfecting as well. Wash bedding and favourite haunts regularly as well.


If anyone has anything else to add, as I am sure I have forgotten some, then please do!
 

Mamanyt1953

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I would only add that many cats have issues with their water source being right next to their food source. Instinct tells them that food may contaminate water sources. Even as little as 5' of separation can make a difference in how much they drink. My cat sucks back water like a racehorse in August now. I've scooped some pee-balls the size of tennis balls, some almost as big as baseballs, out of her litter. She's a well-hydrated little thing.
 

mrsgreenjeens

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I don't know if this is important or not, but we only use filtered water as both an additive to their food AND in their water dishes. I've had three kidney cats so far and am trying to avoid any more. They only thing that has been consistent is the water, that's why we switched to filtered water with our current cats. So far, so good.
 

FeebysOwner

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I would only add that many cats have issues with their water source being right next to their food source. Instinct tells them that food may contaminate water sources. Even as little as 5' of separation can make a difference in how much they drink.
I know you advocate this, and you have probably had way more cats than I have. But, none of my cats, nor the strays I have helped take care of, seemed to have an issue with a water dish being placed right next to their food dish. For my first two cats, their water dish was always next to their food. Feeby, on the other hand, has 3 water dishes, one of which is by her food, but she drinks from all of them equally.

I wonder what is behind what you have experienced, since it doesn't seem to apply to anything I have known! It is very interesting to me!
 

Stargirl0623

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I work at a vet clinic, and I have seen my fair share of horror stories. Today, a male cat came in with bladder stones the size of unground pepper corns and in immense pain. Seeing as urinary issues in cats (stones, CKD etc) are such common issues nowadays, it kind of got me thinking that it might be a good idea to offer some advice to new and old forum members on some simple things you can do to avoid these painful issues.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet myself, and I am not offering medical advice. If your cat already has pre existing urinary issues, this advice is not for you. Your cat needs to be seen by a professional. The advice I am about to give will not, 100%, ensure your cat won't get urinary issues, so don't rule it out if your cat begins showing signs. Genetics also play a huge role. The following are just some little things you can be more conscious about that may help prevent these issues. The following is a mix of proven scientific research and (mainly) anecdotal that has shown to play a large role in preventing issues., so I won't be quoting any articles but I have cross referenced with the vets at my practice :)

1. Feed a moisture rich diet. Make their water dishes enticing and add some water to each wet (or raw) meal. Hydration is key for aiding kidney function and flushing toxins out of the kidneys and bladder. Unfortunately a lot of cats don't drink nearly enough water. Fresh water must be on offer all the time, and I have heard people have great success with fountains as a lot of cats like running water. Cats are picky, and the container you have their water in can affect its taste. Throw out the plastic, it can leech into the water after a while. Personally my cats love ceramic and I find this best, though stainless steel (NOT stainless steel coated) would be the next best IMO. I am also strongly against any water additives (yes, even dental ones) unless prescribed by a vet for treatment purposes. I also add 1-2 tablespoons of water to each wet meal they get. Of course if your cat won't eat the food with extra water then don't add it, but my boys love the extra 'gravy'.

2. Keep stress to a minimum. Stress has a major impact on the body, for cats and humans. Change is necessary in life, but if we can make any changes as slowly as possible then our cats have time to adjust. Personally I worked on fear conditioning with my cats by having regular visitors since they were kittens and of course regular trips to the vet for check ups. Lots of treats, praise and cuddles. Now they are both cool as cucumbers. Of course you don't have to train them to accept change, but try using calming diffusers when change comes around, creating a safe place where you can place away from any hustle and bustle, covering the carry cage with a heavy blanket when transporting and so on. Stress is a major culprit for urinary issues, so this one is a biggy.

3. Avoid any artificial scents. This one has to do with toxins in the body. That means scented candles, bug spray (the stuff is banned in my house), moth balls and so on, even cleaning products. I clean room by room so the cats are never in the same area as me when I am mopping or cleaning, and I allow the room to air before I let them have access to it again.

4. Watch the weight. Keeping our cats at a healthy weight lowers their chances of a lot of different health issues, including urinary problems. So watch the portion sizes and encourage your cat to be active, even if they are older. But it's not just exercise that's important here. It also has a lot to do with what we feed them. Fat saturated human foods, and basically anything not biologically appropriate for cats can cause kidney issues and should be avoided. Watch the phosphorous intake of elderly cats and feed high phosphorous foods in rotation for younger cats.

5. Keep the litter box and bedding clean. Bacteria breeds in dirty climates. Clean the litter box at least once daily and disinfect and refresh completely at least once a month for clumping litter. Pelleted litter is different, and different materials breed bacteria easier than others, so be sure to research what you use. If your cat has had diarrhea or GI issues, change the litter and disinfect much more regularly. I also like to let my litter box dry in the sun after disinfecting as well. Wash bedding and favourite haunts regularly as well.


If anyone has anything else to add, as I am sure I have forgotten some, then please do!
Thank you for this! My four year-old ginger boy was one of those horror stories--blocked four times in a week and ultimately needed a PU to get him on the mend.

I didn't realize until after the fact how many risk factors he had: slightly overweight, a boy, loves his crunchies, always been a struggle to get him to drink enough water. As a pet parent I thought I'd been doing everything I could to care for him well. I took him for yearly checkups and followed vet advice, we both have mild asthma so we're a hypoallergenic household (and I was always on top of managing his flares), his box was always clean, the dry food I gave him was always high quality, and he has multiple water fountains. But he developed crystals, blocked, and then developed an infection after a catheter and went into spasm--we tried everything we could to clear him, but he got so sick it became a choice between the PU or euthanasia. Luckily he's responded really well so far, a month out from surgery he's doing great, but it was a long and difficult road to get him here.

I've been spreading the word among all the cat parents I know, now that I know better. Urinary issues can be a total nightmare to navigate, so thank you for everything you do to help prevent them and treat the cats who develop them!
 

Mamanyt1953

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but we only use filtered water as both an additive to their food AND in their water dishes.
As do I.

FeebysOwner FeebysOwner Just my experience. On the other hand, I've seen cats drinking from mud puddles. What I can say is that I read it somewhere, quite some time ago (I'm tempted to say decades), and that three of my cats drank more water once the bowls were at a distance from their food. Hek more than doubled her water intake. I suggest it when drinking is a problem because it has worked in the past on several of my cats, and ANY suggestion is worth trying.
 
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