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Feline Nutrition and Urinary Health

Amanda Shares Her Pet Nutrition Expertise

A big welcome and thanks to our guest blogger, Amanda! She shares her expertise with us below.

While working as a veterinary technician, nothing saddened me more than to see the numerous male cats at the emergency clinic coming in with urinary blockages/obstructions. Not only is this excruciatingly painful for cats, it is life threatening. And what is just as upsetting is that it is usually preventable through diet.

Cats need a species-appropriate diet. This means as much wet food as possible--all wet food if possible—or, if you want to really do it right, a balanced raw diet. There’s a saying among some veterinarians that “the worst wet food is better than the best dry food.”

This is true for several reasons. Our domesticated cats are very much genetically the same as their wild ancestors. This mean they are true obligate carnivores (more than wild dogs and wolves, even), and derive their nutrients and water intake from freshly killed prey in the wild. Also, cats being desert descendants, they have evolved to have a very low thirst drive, and therefore absolutely require a moisture rich diet.

People often say that they feed their cat dry food, and their cats drink a lot of water. But even if your kibble-fed kitty drinks a lot of water, the dry food is actually negating the benefits of the water, leaving your cat in a constant state of dehydration. Not only are the kidneys being put at risk, but the risk of blockage by urinary crystals is much greater because the bladder is not being flushed out properly. This means that if your male cat is building up any urinary crystals, they are not getting flushed out and diluted when he urinates, and can become concentrated in their urine. (Remember, the solution to pollution is dilution!) Male cats have a very narrow urethra, and if crystals become too concentrated and the cat develops a blockage, the cat cannot pass urine, and the bladder will essentially fill until either it is surgically unblocked or the cat dies from organ failure. It is very painful and this is where I want to express the importance of a moisture rich diet. I have seen too many cats suffer and even younger male cats being euthanized because the owners can’t afford the surgery to unblock the cat. This is why a diet of wet food is necessary for our feline friends. It can save you heartache and money, and save your cat from one of the most painful experiences of their life, or worse.

Cats have to have wet food, and in my opinion it should be at least 80% of their diet, but 100% is better. But wet food can become expensive and the quality is a lot of times questionable at best. I really recommend reading for recipes and further information on balanced raw diets from Dr. Lisa Pierson, and also watching Dr. Karen Becker’s YouTube videos of raw diets, but here I want to address the importance of steering you into the direction of healthy wet food options.

Many wet foods have tons of grains, fillers, preservatives and carcinogenic ingredients in them. Pet food does not have as many restrictions as human food--and we all know that prepared people food isn’t always what you think it is--so the quality in pet food is usually even more lacking. There are several brands of canned wet food that are great to feed your cat and can be found at pet food stores. I really don’t like to recommend specific brands of food because the quality can change over time, and it is up to the consumer to do the research to find the right brand. However, one I do like is “I and Love and You” (crazy name, great food.) They even make a rabbit formula (cleverly named "Whascally Wabbit"), and rabbit is by far one of the best protein sources to feed your cat. I recommend avoiding fish- and tuna-based diets, as these are not something a cat would normally eat in the wild, and even the best fish in the world have some degree of contaminants in them, which are hard on your cat’s body to process. Just keep in mind to look for the highest quality canned food you can afford. That’s going to be something with rabbit, duck, turkey, quail, pheasant, venison and so on at the very top of the ingredient list. (Chicken and beef can be an allergic trigger for some cats, but is okay for others as long as the quality is the best you can get).

Also important is for the wet food to contain as few carbohydrates as possible; cats are not designed to be able to break down carbs (another one of the many reasons a dry kibble-based diet is not a good choice for cats).

If a frozen raw diet is something you can do, GREAT! Both Primal and Stella & Chewy’s have wonderful frozen feline formulas that are thawed and served. This is what I feed my own cats along with a homemade balanced diet.

If you want to get into making your own food at home, I recommend consulting with a veterinarian that can help you make sure you are feeding your cat a balanced diet. Raw chicken or beef given to your cat without bones, organs, proper supplementation and safe handling of the meat can cause more problems than anyone wants, but homemade diets are not hard to do, either. Again, is a great place to start reading up on it.

All in all, wet foods/species-appropriate diets provide the necessary moisture your cat absolutely needs to stay as healthy as possible, are a great way to prevent kidney damage/urinary obstructions, and help to keep your kitty as healthy as possible for a long time. I love my cats like they are my children, and feeding them the best food I can keeps me ensured that I’m doing what is best for them to prevent many health concerns. The more years I get to spend with my cats, the happier everyone in my house is, and I hope our clients will do the same.

{Side Note: Regarding dry kibble and “teeth health,” this is a myth; dry food is not better than wet food because it “brushes pets’ teeth.” After all, you don’t eat a cookie or chips before bed or in the morning instead of brushing your teeth… please see Dr. Mercola’s YouTube video interviewing Dr. Karen Becker.)

~Amanda Bude
Molly the Cat Lady & Friends

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