How Diet Affects Urinary Tract Health
Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS) and Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FUS/FLUTD is the term used to describe a group of clinical signs associated with urinary tract problems that occur in cats.
Symptoms may include:
- Multiple trips to the litter pan with little or no urine voided
- Bloody urine
- Straining and/or pain during urination
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
If the urinary tract becomes completely obstructed, this becomes a life-threatening situation. A major cause of urinary tract problems is if the urine is not acidic enough (too alkaline). Mildly acidic urine (pH 6.0 - 6.6) helps to reduce the formation of crystals that can accumulate in the bladder and can block the flow of urine. Urine that is too acidic (pH 1-6) is not desired since other types of crystals can form in this situation. Your cat's food may play a role in FUS/FLUTD because the food can affect the urine pH (acid/base balance). It is important that you have your cat examined by a veterinarian should she experience any of the above listed symptoms, especially since the type of crystal the veterinarian can detect in the cat's urine helps determine the appropriate treatment.
Diet may be a contributing factor to FUS/FLUTD. You should ensure that your cat's diet produces slightly acidic urine (pH 6.0 - 6.6). Most high-meat diets do this. If you feed a dry food, be sure that it has been specifically formulated to produce acidic urine. There are a number of dry foods that are formulated to help in combating FUS/FLUTD.
Most canned foods produce acidic urine. The other significant benefit with canned foods is the high moisture content that helps dilute the urine, thus reducing the likelihood of crystals forming. It is important, though, in both cases (canned or dry food) to ensure that your cat always has a plentiful supply of fresh water.
It's recommended that you feed your cat small amounts throughout the day. Large meals can result in rapid, prolonged periods of alkaline urine (pH above 7). If your cat overeats whenever food is available, you should consider feeding several small meals throughout the day.
While FUS/FLUTD affects a small percentage of the cat population (about 1 to 2 percent), it can be painful and life-threatening to your cat. Immediate and sometimes prolonged treatment is necessary if you suspect your cat has this condition.