UTI prescription diet rant.

jazzyp

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I am so frustrated right now.  One of my cats has been to the vet twice for severe UTI (he spent a week in the hospital the first time), and I have had to have four others treated.  Now the whole lot, six cats, are on Science Diet c/d, on the advice of my vet.  I love my vet, but I hate Science Diet with a passion.  

A bit of background.  I had been feeding Taste of the Wild, with no noticeable issues.  Then we switched to 4Health for indoor cats.  Budget was, and continues to be, a factor.  After the switch, I started having problems.  The vet said before making the switch to SD, to try 4Health all life stages.  It didn't work, and the cat who had been in hospital got UTI again.   We put him on SD.  Recently, two more cats presented with litter box issues.  One had UTI, the other had no infection, but did have high pH urine, so we were advised to put all the cats on SD.  

I have always paid close attention to ingredients in my pets' food, and I do not like what I see on the bag with the SD.  I started doing some serious looking around for information on cats and urinary health, and most sites seem to say that wet food is better than dry.  One, catinfo, even said that the worst canned is better than the best dry.  To be honest, I'm not a big fan of commercial food at all - in my perfect world, I would be able to feed prey model raw to all my pets, but that simply isn't feasible right now, for many reasons.  

So...I am looking for an acceptable canned food for my cats.  I've looked at how many calories they need each day, figured out how many feedings there are in a bad of SD food, and am now searching for wet food that will be comparable in cost to the dry SD.  Unfortunately, I don't have only budget to contend with, but the fact that my housemate is the one paying the bills.  We are not a couple or anything, but we do have a bit of a domestic arrangement, almost like mother and daughter.  I do the cooking, cleaning, have taken care of her when she was sick, and look after our pets, and she pays the bills.  Most of the time it works well, and she is a very kind person who loves animals.  Unfortunately, she is not one to question anyone she sees as an authority figure, including our vet, who is not a fan of anything other than kibble, on the grounds that kibble is "more sanitary."   He's a good man, and dedicated to animals, but he is older, and I think we've learned a lot about animal nutrition since he got his schooling.

I would like to get away from kibble entirely, except perhaps as an occasional treat (in one of those treat balls meant to make your cat work for it), and go to canned altogether, perhaps with a bit of raw now and then.  My main concern is, are there any canned foods that will make a UTI-prone cat worse?  I know to avoid most of the fish-based foods.  Please don't mention things like Wellness, I cannot afford it.  I am talking about food I can get at the grocery store that would be better than SD kibble.
 

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Well to start you don't have to feed RX food, even on the advice of your vet, if you don't want to. You have every right to say no, or to change to a new vet. I personally think RX foods are a huge scam and waste of money.

It is very important for your cat with urinary issues to be off all dry food. Since you've poked around on catinfo you know that dry food triggers dehydration and is a huge factor is why cats develop urinary issues. You're already on board with that, so that's a great start! 

With lower end foods it's really important to avoid fish foods and any foods with gravy (like the fancy feast or friskies with gravy) because they're loaded with wheat gluten and starch, which is carby, and carbs have been linked to triggering urinary issues too. 

Good options for you would be Fancy Feast classic line only, friskies turkey and giblet pate, and 4health grain free line (which I think comes in 13oz cans now?). Sheba also has both a chicken and turkey pate that's decent. You can add extra water to the wet food, too. 

If you can, invest in a water fountain to encourage drinking, too. 
 
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jazzyp

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I know to avoid fish and foods with lots of gravy.  I'm afraid with six cats, any of the foods in 3 oz. cans are going to be beyond my reach.  I'm looking at a chart I found on a site called Binky's Page that lists protein, carbs, calories, and other info on several brands of canned food.  Here it is.    http://binkyspage.tripod.com/CanFoodNew.html

Right now I'm crunching numbers to see which brand is the best I can get for about the same cost.  We get the SD from Chewy for about $68 per bag, and a bag has been lasting about three weeks, give or take a day or two.  I've been bothered about giving them kibble for a long time, but giving them this junk is simply the last straw.  I loathe this brand for its poor quality and ridiculous cost for said poor quality.  

I've read several other sources that said the same thing about avoiding gravy and fish, but I'm wondering if a little bit of fish might be acceptable *only* to help transition a kibble junkie.  
 

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Catinfo has a chart, it's a few years old but it's decent. I feed some fish, however, I don't have any cats with urinary issues and I only feed fish in higher quality foods. Feline Naturals, Ziwipeak, or Weruva. Those three brands test their fish for toxins and also are committed to using fish that are lower in toxin exposure. 

http://catinfo.org/docs/FoodChartPhosphorus9-22-12.pdf
 
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jazzyp

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I've seen the chart, very informative and frankly, a bit intimidating!  I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with the Friskies for now, as I expect the cats will eat, on average, one to one and a half 5.5 oz. cans a day.  There is no way I am going to be allowed to spend a dollar a can on cat food, not with six cats.  I might be able to upgrade to a better brand in a while, once I have proven that wet food is not going to break the bank.  Honestly, I would still like to get them all on raw, but I know that getting them off the kibble if the first step.  Can you recommend any of the other Friskies foods, or just the turkey and giblets?  Also, are any of the 9 Lives varieties worth considering?  I'll just plan to avoid fish altogether, unless it's an occasional bite of my own dinner.  

I probably sound like a complete idiot, and I promise, I'm really not.  I just feel like I'm suffering from information overload, combined with some rather severe financial constraints.  This was a lot easier when it was only my money in question, and only my opinions to consider.  -_-
 

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I've seen the chart, very informative and frankly, a bit intimidating!  I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with the Friskies for now, as I expect the cats will eat, on average, one to one and a half 5.5 oz. cans a day.  There is no way I am going to be allowed to spend a dollar a can on cat food, not with six cats.  I might be able to upgrade to a better brand in a while, once I have proven that wet food is not going to break the bank.  Honestly, I would still like to get them all on raw, but I know that getting them off the kibble if the first step.  Can you recommend any of the other Friskies foods, or just the turkey and giblets?  Also, are any of the 9 Lives varieties worth considering?  I'll just plan to avoid fish altogether, unless it's an occasional bite of my own dinner.  

I probably sound like a complete idiot, and I promise, I'm really not.  I just feel like I'm suffering from information overload, combined with some rather severe financial constraints.  This was a lot easier when it was only my money in question, and only my opinions to consider.  -_-
You can supplement with some raw meat chunks, just less than 10% of their weekly diet. 

I'm not sure about any of the other friskies. I think most of the other ones either have fish or gravy. 

What about 4health? Not grain free, but probably better than friskies. 

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/4health-chicken-brown-rice-cat-food-132-oz?cm_vc=-10005

I heard from another TCS user that they were making the grain free in a 13oz size, but it's not showing online. 
 
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jazzyp

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You can supplement with some raw meat chunks, just less than 10% of their weekly diet. 

I'm not sure about any of the other friskies. I think most of the other ones either have fish or gravy. 

What about 4health? Not grain free, but probably better than friskies. 

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/4health-chicken-brown-rice-cat-food-132-oz?cm_vc=-10005

I heard from another TCS user that they were making the grain free in a 13oz size, but it's not showing online. 
Thanks for the link!  I had looked for the larger cans online and didn't see them, but it looks like they do have them at our local store.    We have to go there tomorrow, anyway, so I will pick some up.  I feel like I need a backup plan, though, because I don't want to be limited to just one food.

Actually, as for the Friskies, at least if the Chewy site is correct, the Mixed Grill does not have any fish in it, but the Turkey and Giblets does.  I'm thinking of getting that and mixing it with another, higher-quality food.  I just noticed a brand I had not heard of before, Dave's.  Any thoughts about it?  I know it has carageenan, but if I rule out every food that does...not so easy.
 

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Thanks for the link!  I had looked for the larger cans online and didn't see them, but it looks like they do have them at our local store.    We have to go there tomorrow, anyway, so I will pick some up.  I feel like I need a backup plan, though, because I don't want to be limited to just one food.

Actually, as for the Friskies, at least if the Chewy site is correct, the Mixed Grill does not have any fish in it, but the Turkey and Giblets does.  I'm thinking of getting that and mixing it with another, higher-quality food.  I just noticed a brand I had not heard of before, Dave's.  Any thoughts about it?  I know it has carageenan, but if I rule out every food that does...not so easy.
Oh, yeah. Dave's is decent, that's a good option too. I think you can make all of these work no problem, and when your budget allows you can add more raw or work in higher quality foods. 
 
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jazzyp

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Oh, yeah. Dave's is decent, that's a good option too. I think you can make all of these work no problem, and when your budget allows you can add more raw or work in higher quality foods. 
Thanks so much for your help!  I'm going to go with a case of Friskies and Dave's from Chewy, and get some 4Health tomorrow at TSC.  Unfortunately, I feel I should probably get at least a smaller bag of the dreaded kibble, simply because I have had *disastrous* results in the past when I tried to switch a cat too quickly.  Eventually I will start adding some raw, or maybe Wysong Epigen, which I could add to the dogs' food, too.
 
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I noticed the Dave's Restricted Diet, and may add it to the rotation at a later date.  Right now, it's a little beyond my reach, financially.  

I do have an encouraging update!  I remembered a few cans of Friskies we had gotten to try to help a neighbor retrieve her missing cat.  I opened a couple of them this morning, and all the cats ate the food.  This is a great thing in my eyes, because I have dealt with serious kibble junkies before, and was worried about it happening again.  I'm excited about getting the order from Chewy, particularly Dave's, and about trying the canned 4Health that was suggested.  More Friskies on the way to mix in, just to keep it affordable.  With luck, I can send the Science Diet back when it gets here, and exchange it for something good.

The cloud wrapped around the silver lining?  No heat last night, and a funny, sort of hot electrical smell in my housemate's bedroom.  That was worrisome enough that we had the fire department out to make sure no wires were smoldering anywhere.  None were, but it appears that the motor burned out on the furnace.  So we're all bundled up in flannel and blankets until it is fixed.  It makes my cats extra cuddly, but my Chihuahua hates it, and won't come out from under the comforter.  I'll try digging out one of her sweaters, but she's never met a sweater she couldn't worm her way out of in about five minutes.  
 

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Oh no, so glad you found the source of the heat smell. Hope you can get the furnace fixed rightawayquick!

Definitely I can understand there is a huge financial issue involved with feeding 6 cats, which is why I only have one LOL. According to cat info.org any canned food is better than kibble, even Friskies. The biggies are no dry, no fish or fish by products and pates are better than gravy. Add water to each serving of canned to keep kitty hydrated, so you don't have to worry if he drinks or not. Is it possible for you to separate kitty from the rest of the pack at feeding time? If so, he'll fill up on what you want him to eat and if he grazes on the others food in between meals, he won't be eating that much. Purina ProPlan has a Urinary food, it's ,99 for 3 oz can, non 'script, my Petco carries it. The phosphorous and magnesium values are within correct limits. If you can separate at feeding time, maybe you can add one meal of this every day or two for him?

Also, search the nutrition site for 'alternatives to expensive urinary SO foods' and feeding FLUD cats. There are a good many threads that I think you'll find helpful.
 
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jazzyp

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Oh no, so glad you found the source of the heat smell. Hope you can get the furnace fixed rightawayquick!

Definitely I can understand there is a huge financial issue involved with feeding 6 cats, which is why I only have one LOL. According to cat info.org any canned food is better than kibble, even Friskies. The biggies are no dry, no fish or fish by products and pates are better than gravy. Add water to each serving of canned to keep kitty hydrated, so you don't have to worry if he drinks or not. Is it possible for you to separate kitty from the rest of the pack at feeding time? If so, he'll fill up on what you want him to eat and if he grazes on the others food in between meals, he won't be eating that much. Purina ProPlan has a Urinary food, it's ,99 for 3 oz can, non 'script, my Petco carries it. The phosphorous and magnesium values are within correct limits. If you can separate at feeding time, maybe you can add one meal of this every day or two for him?

Also, search the nutrition site for 'alternatives to expensive urinary SO foods' and feeding FLUD cats. There are a good many threads that I think you'll find helpful.
I plan to separate the cats when I feed them, even if they all end up on the same food.  Things are more harmonious that way.  Unfortunately, again, .99 for a three ounce can of food is not workable for me.  If I had it all to do now, I would not have six cats, but there are two factors at work there.  For one, when I got them, I had more money, and perhaps more than that, four of them were rescues, not cats I set out to get.  Two were kittens that got chucked out of a house in my old neighborhood, while it was being rehabbed.  I found homes for the other kittens, but was left with these two.  Two of my cats I got when a truly horrible roommate and hoarder got sent off to jail.  I was left with the job of rehoming cats, dogs, chickens, sheep, goats, birds, a ferret, and a donkey.  I was left with three of his cats, one of them an elderly family pet that this awful man's awful son would not take in, in spite of the fact that it had been his devoted childhood friend.  I kept this cat until it died of old age.  The other two were younger and are healthy, and one has become the closest thing to a feline soulmate I have ever had, in spite of the fact that she had never really bonded to anyone before.  

There are times when I feel a little defensive about having more cats than I can afford to feed the way I would really like to, and I often feel guilty about that, but then I remind myself of the fact that if I hadn't taken some of these cats in, they would probably have been tossed out on the road or sent to a high-kill shelter, with little chance of being adopted.  
 

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@JazzyP   please don't feel defensive or guilty. We all do the best we can, even when sometimes it is overwhelming.
  Your kitties are lucky to have you as their guardian. As I said earlier, the vet on cat info.org said any canned is better than kibble.
 
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jazzyp

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@JazzyP   please don't feel defensive or guilty. We all do the best we can, even when sometimes it is overwhelming.
  Your kitties are lucky to have you as their guardian. As I said earlier, the vet on cat info.org said any canned is better than kibble.
Thank you.  I've noticed that everyone here seems to be very kind, both in this thread and in others I've seen.  Unfortunately, that is not the case everywhere, and I've met too many people who were a bit quick to judge without knowing all the facts or circumstances.  I'm glad that the very real problem of animal hoarding has finally come to light, but an unfortunate side effect of that is the tendency of some people to paint anyone who has more than one or two animals with the same brush.  
 
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Another update(s).  Picked up a few cans of 4Health Chicken and Brown Rice to use until my Chewy order comes.  They've all at least nibbled at it.  I haven't seen anyone eat particularly heartily, but I suspect that is because they have always been free-fed.  I need to break them of that, but it's difficult, because I'm worried about everyone eating enough.  Three of these cats are fat, another good argument for dropping the kibble, but I do not want to risk any of them getting fatty liver from not eating.  I had that happen once years ago with a cat I was trying to transition, and it was horrible for everyone involved, as well as very expensive.  That's the main reason I included the stinky Friskies in my Chewy order:  emergency back-up food if any of this lot proves to be finicky about making a shift to something better. I've noticed that cats are a lot like children in that if they have gotten used to junk food, it's very hard to get them to embrace something healthier.  Mixing a little junk in with the good stuff will be sort of like a human mom disguising veggies in meatballs and pizza to get her kids to eat them.  

An added bonus to this whole catfood adventure:  I got some decent canned food for my Chihuahua, too!  I can't leave kibble around for her, because the cats would try to eat it, I explained.  ;)  I'm hoping to convince my housemate to get her two dogs off that stuff eventually, too, but...one small step at a time.  

Anyway...better catfood in the pantry, more on the way, and an at least moderately promising reception from the kitties.  Add to that the fact that the furnace man came this afternoon, fixed the problem for just $200 (whew!), leaving us with a nice, toasty warm house, and overall, life is good.  
 

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That is good news, sounds like you are on the right track. I love chewy's prices and customer service. I feed 3 x's a day, am/pm/bedtime snack. Have figured out about how much he eats at one sitting, sometimes there is a bit left after AM meal, depending on amount left I add a few more drops of water and sometimes a bit more food, that holds him over until next meal late afternoon. I understand the concern over not eating, heard that not to let them go longer than 18 hours or you risk health problems. Sometimes it is good to add a bit of their favorite as a topper to healthy stuff. Don't forget, add a bit of water to each serving of canned to help keep them hydrated.
 
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jazzyp

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That is good news, sounds like you are on the right track. I love chewy's prices and customer service. I feed 3 x's a day, am/pm/bedtime snack. Have figured out about how much he eats at one sitting, sometimes there is a bit left after AM meal, depending on amount left I add a few more drops of water and sometimes a bit more food, that holds him over until next meal late afternoon. I understand the concern over not eating, heard that not to let them go longer than 18 hours or you risk health problems. Sometimes it is good to add a bit of their favorite as a topper to healthy stuff. Don't forget, add a bit of water to each serving of canned to help keep them hydrated.
Chewy is amazing.  My housemate knows someone whose dog recently died.  This lady had an autoship account with them, and when her shipment arrived, she contacted them to explain why she didn't need it, and to ask about returns.  They not only credited her account, and told her to to donate the food to a local shelter, they sent her flowers  as a gesture of sympathy for the loss of her pet.  
 

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That is so nice, I've heard of Chewy doing this for other people too. In a world where customer service means so little, it is nice to find a company that actually cares about their customers.
 
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