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Cats & recurring UTI's - a nutritional solution

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

A nutritional approach to treating a 9yr old cat with recurring urinary tract infections despite being on a special commercial ‘urinary diet’.


Cats & recurring UTI's - a nutritional solution

The current nutrition

Commercial pet foods such as kibble are high in cheaply sourced plant proteins and carbohydrates. Eating this type of food does not stimulate the stomach cells to release hydrochloric acid and lower gut Ph ready for digestion of the meal. Which means the gut environment becomes unnaturally alkaline. The commercial food is also much drier than raw food which means the pet must drink additional water to remain hydrated. The commercial kibble diet, with its propensity to create an alkaline gut environment and overly concentrated urine is the perfect recipe for wastes to crystallise and settle out of the urine solution, often settling in the bladder. Small crystals may be excreted and cause irritation of the urinary tract, whilst others bond together to form large stones which can cause life threatening blockages of the bladder and urinary tract.


Client/Owner concerns

Cats being obligate carnivores have adapted evolutionarily to eat and thrive on a raw meat-protein based diet which supports a naturally acidic gut environment and carries through to produce naturally acidic urine. Transitioning the pet to a raw species appropriate diet which will naturally support healthy digestion, with adjustments to support a healthy urinary system and the production of acidic urine is recommended.


Management of the condition, nutritionally.

A species appropriate diet for a cat comprises 50% muscle meat, 30% meaty bones, 10% Offal and 10% plant matter and supplements. Transitioning the pet to a species appropriate raw diet over a period of around 12 days is essential with a number of considerations specific to the pet.


A. Meat protein: Selecting a lean red meat is ideal as red meat stimulates a more acidic gut environment than white meat, palatability can be increased with the addition of bone broth or stock if required. The meat should be free of any preservatives to avoid any unwanted additional toxins or allergens being included in the diet[1]. Use of minced meat enables other foods or supplements to be blended and gently introduced into the diet.


B. Meaty bones: Turkey necks, chicken necks or chicken wings are a great choice for cats new to meaty bones due to being small and relatively soft. Wings can be broken at the joints to avoid them getting in the cats eyes whilst cuts can be made into the skin to improve palatability.


C. Organs: A selection of offal meats such as liver, kidney, brains and green tripe are essential components of any balanced diet; Raw Liver is a good first offal meat packed with valuable B12 whilst raw green tripe is naturally high in enzymes and probiotic bacteria whilst being low in fat making it an ideal dietary choice.


D. Plant matter: Fruits and vegetables provide much needed fibre to the diet together with a whole host of other valuable nutrients. Selecting pet friendly Vitamin C rich foods such as spinach will naturally support the urine acidity levels[2]. Crushing and blending with the meat portion and bone broth will improve the palatability with many cats not keen on vegetables.


E. Supplements: With the pet nicely transitioned onto a raw diet and healthy digestion restored other additives may be provided to further enhance the nutrient profile of the diet and address any deficiencies that have built up for the pet.

  1. Cranberry tablets: An essential addition to the diet, in addition to the vitamin C, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients they contain there are compounds called proanthocyanidins which have both anti inflammatory and anti-microbial functions. They reduce any inflammation in the bladder and coat the surface which prevents any harmful bacteria present from attaching itself to the bladder wall, without attachment any harmful bacteria is simply excreted with normal urination[1].

  2. Ascorbic acid: Depending on the frequency and severity of the bladder infections it may be necessary to maintain support with additional ascorbic acid, confirming the components of the commercial diet will show the current supplementation level and if indeed this is necessary or if food based alternatives mentioned are sufficient.

  3. Bone broth: Can be beneficial as it provides the body with collagen and other essential nutrients to reduce inflammation and support healing of the intestinal barrier whilst also being extremely palatable for the fussy cat[3]. Once accepted, bone broth can then be used as a medium to increase the palatability and acceptance of other dietary items.

  4. Eggs are an excellent source of the highest quality protein available suitable for dogs of all ages containing all of the vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids dogs need for good healthy which makes them an ideal addition to a balanced diet[4].

  5. A good quality, cold pressed flaxseed oil adds valuable omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to the diet which are often lacking in the pets fed a commercial product. EFA’s are key to maintaining and supporting all aspects of our pets’ health as they are components of cell membranes, supporting the flow of molecules into and out of cells as well as supporting enzyme and membrane receptor function[5]. An appropriate Vitamin E source should also be provided to protect the pet against the oil becoming rancid in their body[4].

  6. Brewer’s yeast, as a rich source of vitamins B-complex, antioxidants and assorted minerals, and is a useful dietary supplement for pets not sensitive to yeast[6].

  7. Kelp, among the many minerals found in kelp there are iodine and selenium, both of which are lacking in New Zealand soils and can be provided in the diet safely, without fear of toxicity, by the inclusion of kelp[4].

  8. Natural, unsweetened Greek yoghurt: can be a useful addition to the diet providing a highly digestible protein , vitamins, enzymes and other nutrients[4] including lactic acid bacteria such as bifido bacteria, a known probiotic which promotes digestion and bowel health[7]. Many cats find the milky yoghurt treat extremely palatable however there are pet probiotic supplements which could be utilized if necessary.


With the cat successfully transitioned to a raw balanced diet incorporating a variety of species appropriate foods, it’s useful to ensure the owner can maintain the diet long term. A meat patty ‘recipe’ incorporating the meat, offal, plant matter and supplements whilst providing the owner guidance as to interchangeable items to further add variety and cope with seasonal availability is provided. Pets on a raw diet don’t tend to have weight issues; discussing changing energy requirements as the Cats lifestyle changes enables the owner to adjust meal sizes appropriately whilst maintaining balance.



Sources

[1] Syme, B. 2011. Scientific Guide to Natural Nutrition. Southbank, Australia: Vets All Natural Pty Ltd. [2] Healthline. 2020. Spinach 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved November 25th, 2020, from Healthline web site: www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/spinach [3] Johnson, J. 2020. What are the benefits of bone broth? Retrieved October 22nd, 2020, from Medical news today web site: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323903#summary [4] Billinghurst, I. 1993. Give Your Dog a Bone. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing. [5] Patel, A. 2017. Essential Fatty Acids In Veterinary Dermatology: Do They Have A Place? Retrieved May 10th, 2020, from veterinarypractice.com: www.veterinary-practice.com/article/essential-fatty-acids-in-veterinary-dermatology-do-they-have-a-place [6] Elfenbein, H. 2017. Brewer's Yeast for Dogs: Understanding the Benefits and Risks. Retrieved October 22nd, 2020, from Pet MD web site: https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/brewers-yeast-dogs-understanding-benefits-and-risks

[7] West, H. (n.d.). Lactose Intolerance 101 - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment. Retrieved October 10th, 2020, from Healthline web site: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lactose-intolerance-101

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