Recently I read a great interview by Dr. Becker with Dr. Lisa Pierson, feline guru. The topic was feline nutrition. She stresses three important factors for a healthy diet:
2.) protein from animal sources
3.) no or very low carbs
While I thought I was following these guidelines pretty well, one of my male cats ended up with a urinary tract blockage due to Struvite crystals that caused bladder spasms. Very scarey! After a 2 1/2 day stay at an emergency clinic and a huge bill. He’s doing really well.
I’ve been feeding him prescription food and his crystals and blood in the urine are gone so far. He was also on a muscle relaxer for the bladder spasms and an anti anxiety med. He’s off the muscle relaxer, but might keep him on anti-anxiety long term.
When reading the interview, I learned that Dr. Pierson recommends using DL-Methionine as a separate supplement rather than prescription food. She states that it is better to acidify the pH with this pill and feed a higher quality diet that is healthier for the cat.
Does anyone have any experience or opinions on this medicine? I think I’d like to ask my vet about it, but fear I’ll be met with resistance. Any thoughts, anyone?
Btw, I’d like to note that this condition is much, much more common in male cats than females or dogs of either sex due to their internal plumbing. Don’t want to scare anyone!
I’m bumping up my post in hopes of some opinions!
I’ll post back with my thoughts. I don’t view this issue as a simple one as many factors come into play.
I haven’t had a chance to read the complete interview yet. I plan to make time in the next few days. 😉
Glad to hear that your cat is doing better. What a scary incident that you sure don’t want to repeat.
I’ve come to view urinary blockages as a multi factorial problem. Sometimes blockages are composed of mucoid matrix without any crystals, so be cautious on not having tunnel vision in regards to struvite. You can find good information on OSU indoor pet site which used to be indoor cat initiative.
The old adage “the solution to pollution is dilution” applies here. Crystal formation is a factor not only of pH but concentration of components that make up the crystal. Because pH can fluctuate throughout the day I think striving for a dilute urine is as important if not more important along with watching mineral content of the diet. I’d be willing to sacrifice a bit in the pH department to get a dilute urine. Moist foods can help along with extra water mixed into the food, flavored water “treats” providing multiple water sources and knowing what your cat likes. Some cat like “staler” water and others absolutely fresh!
pH varies with dietary factors, management factors and likely individual cat factors. Evaluating what goes in is important but I think close monitoring of what comes out is even more important. Veterinary diets are formulated to hit certain pH and concentration milestones. Some of the veterinary diets rely on salt to drive thirst. But I don’t think this “guarantees” that when fed to “your” cat the appropriate pH and concentration are achieved. Investing in a pH meter and refractometer to test urine at home is a good investment.
How often the cat eats also plays a role in urine pH. After eating the urine will become basic due to what is called the “alkaline tide”. This is noted in the cat more so than in the dog. The generation of HCL in the stomach releases bicarb in the blood which alkalizes the urine. Multiple 4-6 small meals a day are preferable to 1 or 2. I can see that there could be a bit of a trade off here. With a dry diet the cat is free to and often does eat multiple small meals a day with moist diet the food can’t be left out for hours and people usually don’t feed 4-6 times a day. If this results in the cat eating a larger amount less often the alkaline tide could result in a higher urine pH for many hours during the day despite a diet that would be otherwise be acidifying.
I personally don’t think the answer to struvite and urinary blockages can be found solely in added methionine to a diet without looking at the entire picture. Methionine is metabolized in the body and the sulfur excreted as sulfuric acid hence it is acidifying to the urine. But since minerals in the diet and feeding practices also influence pH I don’t think all the eggs should be put in one basket per say. Methionine can cause GI upset, and hemolytic anemia( large doses).
If you can achieve a dilute mildly acidic urine by adding methionine to a base diet that otherwise wasn’t reaching those parameters than great but be open to finding what works in your cat.
Thank you so much for your VERY thoughtful and informative reply. I have thought about purchasing some type of pH strips or meter of some sort. I will look in to it. What the heck, I’ve been analyzing dog poop for a couple of years. I might as well move on to cat pee! lol! I have been a litter box stalker since he’s been home, but never have tried to catch any. This could be fun. 😀
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to look in to this drug, is the fact that I have four cats and have been feeding all of them the Rx canned food, but only feeding the Rx kibble to Casper. I was hoping maybe to feed them all regular food and just give Casper the pill. He unbelievably takes his pill he is on now really well.
I did buy a water fountain and he does, as well as the other cats, drink out of it. I also have a couple bowls of water available. I am feeding mostly canned food, but still a little kibble. They get fed three times per day. They are all peeing more. I clean the boxes out a lot more often now.
If I get a pH meter. what level should I be looking for? Does keeping his pH level steady help with preventing the crystals? He pretty much has all of the risk factors that I’ve read about: He’s a male, a little chubby, indoor only in a multi pet household and he tends to be a little aggressive. He was about 4 or 5 when I adopted him. But, I’ve had him for a few years now. He’s really pretty!
Again, thanks for your help. Now I have more information to keep in mind before talking with the vet.
I’ve always heard about how mineral profile is so important with crystal formation, but for dogs and cats, unless you go into reading research papers, there isn’t much info out there about specifics. If you are reading about standard care for goats or sheep, you can’t help but learn that struvite crystals form when the calcium/phosphorus ratio is off from feeding high grain diets(would be the same when feeding meat without adequate bone, I suspect). In sheep and goats, they recommend keeping the C:P to at least 2:1. I wonder why it’s so much easier to get these kinds of preventive recommendations for large animals than for small.
In regards to what pH to strive for you should ask your vet and yes I believe that the goal is to keep a fairly consistent mildly acidic pH throughout the day. Too acidic though and it can lead to formation of ca oxalate stones.
I’ve read pH strips are inaccurate compared to a meter. The problem with a meter though is that you have to have enough urine to cover the probe end.
Clean litter boxes often to encourage frequent use.. some cats like to pee in a box right after it has been cleaned.
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