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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:43 AM
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MissPurryJess MissPurryJess is offline
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Exclamation high-quality wet food for kitty with struvite crystals in urine

I just found out that my 10 year old girl kitty has struvite crystals in her urine. Her pH is about 6 (the vet said it should be 5), but her ultrasound and x-ray showed no stones or "sludge" (as the vet put it). **ETA: I wrote down the wrong values - she said Daisy's pH was 7.5 and Fitzy's was 8, and both needed to be in the 6.1-6.6 range.

The vet's recommendation: no more dry food, Rx wet food, and lots of water. Ugh. Right now the kitties eat Natural Balance vension green pea wet food and Natural Balance duck and green pea dry food (which is on its way out - they're down to 1 Tbsp each per day and I'm cutting it out altogether). Her brother has a food sensitivity to chicken - it gives him diarrhea. So that's why they're on the venison/duck diet - it was really difficult to find a food without any chicken products in it.

So my question is this - has anyone had success with high-quality non-Rx wet food diets for their cats with struvite crystals? The vet recommended the Hills Rx wet food - it's vile. It's seriously disgusting. The cats don't want to eat it, and I don't blame them. And I know better - I know it's not good for them - but I panicked at the vet and bought 3 cans of it to "try it out". I cannot in good conscience feed them pork by-products and grain and gluten. I can't. And I don't think that it's the solution anyway - there has to be something better. But I'm not a vet, and I have no experience here.

I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and talk to her in-depth about what the nutritional profile of the food needs to look like - I don't remember the details (I was panicked and this was the day before Christmas, unfortunately, so they've been closed since then) but I do recall her saying "low ash" and low something else, too. I'm going to get the details tomorrow, but if anyone has any suggestions for foods I can bring up with her I'd be so appreciative. I've gone through a few other threads and saw a few of the suggestions, but most that I looked up had chicken as the main ingredient (or near the top of the list).

So to sum up: They're currently on NB venison/green pea wet (mixed with a little water), and I'm phasing out the NB duck/green pea dry altogether (down to about 1 Tbsp per cat/day). I need a high-quality, grain-free wet food to acidify her urine and prevent the struvite crystals. Preferably without chicken as the main ingredient, since her brother needs to eat the same food. Thank you in advance for any help!

ETA: I just got off the phone with the vet re: my other cat's urinalysis results. She said he, too, has struvite crystals. He also has protein in his urine, but she's not sure "how much" and suggested another test where they check creatinine and protein levels together. Apparently the vet did a quick ultrasound of him as well and saw no stones. Sooooo...now they both need "special food". I really feel like screaming a few expletives right now. I'm 99% sure they're sending the tests out to a lab to be performed, and they even admitted (with no prodding on my part) that crystals can form within the first hour of the urine being sampled. So, um, does my cat have crystals or did the urine sample just sit around?!

My boy kitty also has elevated liver enzymes (his ALT is slightly elevated at 166) and we have his blood checked regularly - up until this urinalysis result everything else was normal, so I have no idea if the two things are related. And I haven't done much research into how food could affect those liver values - I don't want to solve one problem and create another one.

I'm also calling another vet. This one isn't working out (for a few reasons). And I HATE that knee-jerk reaction of, "This is wrong with your cat. Give them this prescription food." How about WHAT in the food is causing the problem? Or WHAT in the food needs to change? Not just, "Here's some food."

Last edited by MissPurryJess; December 29th, 2012 at 04:07 PM.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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marko marko is offline
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Hi MPJ,

You'll find many people with strong opinions on food on our forum.

Personally, I'm feeding an RX food by science diet called d/d feline skin support made from Venison and green peas. This food has cured the terrible patches and raw skin caused by food allergies for my cat Baci. For that food the main ingredients are Venison, water, venison liver and Green pea protein....and yup it smells fairly bad though baci eats it up really quickly.

I'm only writing this to share that some RX foods seem to work and this one has no chicken....though it is not specifically formulated to combat crystals.

Hopefully others will have more specific info for you.
Good luck!
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Old December 27th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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MissPurryJess MissPurryJess is offline
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Thanks, Marko! The Rx food you're feeding sounds like the non-Rx food I currently feed my kids - venison green pea - in fact the first few ingredients are exactly the same, too.

I'm all for an Rx food - if it's good and it's the right thing to feed my cats. But corn meal gluten and corn starch don't seem like they belong in cat food. I know that many of the members here agree with that - I've followed their advice in the past as far as what to feed my kitties.

I put in a few calls to other vets and one to a nutritionist at a local clinic. I really want one of the vets or nutritionists to explain to me the hows and whys and whats of the food and how it affects their health instead of just pushing a can towards me and saying, "Feed this."

I have a hard time balancing the vets recommendations with what I feel is right and with the research I've looked at and recommendations from non-vets who are really knowledgable about diet and nutrition. Head...going...to...explode! Thank you for your response. I'm hoping some of the members will have experience with a situation like this.

Just to toss it out there - has anyone tried Wellness CORE grain-free turkey duck canned food? It appears to be "new" on their site - it looks good. My husband and I are going to go through the info here and compare some brands when he's home tomorrow. So far I've read low magnesium, low phosphorous, and low carb are important for struvite crystals. But I'm not sure about protein and fat levels - if anyone has input on that I'm all ears.

Thanks again for any advice/input! It's appreciated.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 11:42 AM
pattymac pattymac is offline
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I have had experience with 2 of my boys having crystals, so went the prescription diet route for a while but now I'm just feeding 90% wet food with added water, and avoiding any foods with fish. I've cut down to just a handful of kibble at bedtime. Everyone seems fine and they appreciate the variety I'm sure rather than just the same old Urinary S/O.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 03:13 PM
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MissPurryJess MissPurryJess is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pattymac View Post
I have had experience with 2 of my boys having crystals, so went the prescription diet route for a while but now I'm just feeding 90% wet food with added water, and avoiding any foods with fish. I've cut down to just a handful of kibble at bedtime. Everyone seems fine and they appreciate the variety I'm sure rather than just the same old Urinary S/O.
Thanks pattymac - when you say 90% wet food, do you mean one of those "90% meat" canned foods, or just 90% wet and 10% kibble?

Thanks for the tip to avoid fish - I saw that in an article while I was fishing around (hah!) online.

I just got off the phone with another vet - she said we should try 2 weeks on a wet-only (with water added) diet, and recheck their urine at that time. She seems to think that cutting out dry altogether and adding more water to their wet food could solve the issue altogether.

She also gave me a run-down on why exactly the c/d is supposed to be helpful:

controlled amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium
potassium citrate
vitamin E
beta carotene
omega 3s

And I just found out that Fitzy's (boy kitty) urine pH is 8, and Daisy's is 7.5. Both have struvite crystals, and Fitzy had some protein in his urine. It would have been really helpful if their original vet had given me actual numbers. I think it's time to switch vets. The vet at the new place spent more time with me on the phone than the one from their current vet!

ETA: sugarcatmom!!! Hello friend! For some reason my thread wasn't updated and I didn't see your response. To answer your question - Daisy's was a routine yearly exam. They did a blood test and it was normal but her urine had a pH of 7.5 and struvite crystals. They didn't see any white cells in the urine, and her x-ray and ultrasound came back clear. Fitzy's urinalysis was performed because he had his yearly exam a few months ago - they did a blood test, but I guess his bladder was empty and they didn't do a urinalysis. Just didn't do one. So after getting Daisy's results I insisted that they get a urinalysis on Fitzy as well. Neither were showing any symptoms or urinating inappropriately - they're not really acting differently at all. The new vet I'm going to take them to said they would do these tests in-house right after taking the sample to get an accurate look at the urine. She seemed a bit more informed than our current vet. Here's a big issue with the current vet - it's a team. I've never talked to the same doctor twice. Which is REALLY frustrating. I'll talk to someone who doesn't know who I am and has never seen my cats - they're basically looking over test results and reading them to me. Not very helpful. I want them to have a vet I can communicate with who will follow their progress and know my cats.

So you don't think it's necessary to switch wet foods altogether? They're turning their noses up at the Rx diet anyway - it smells terrible, it looks like sludge, and I don't blame them, quite frankly. At the moment they're getting the venison/green pea wet with added water. Much less dry food - we're down to 1 Tbsp and I'm about to phase it out altogether.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 06:10 PM
pattymac pattymac is offline
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Yup it's about 90% canned now with added water. I give a handful of kibble at bedtime. I usually feed Natural Balance but I switch them up quite a bit. Right now they have a couple of cans of Whiskas for a treat, and I have been using Performatrin, as it comes in the larger cans and when you have 4 to feed it's easier and more cost effective. So far so good, Nino, who was having real problems, including blood in his urine, is 100% better now.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 11:27 AM
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sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
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Hi MPJ!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
I just found out that my 10 year old girl kitty has struvite crystals in her urine. Her pH is about 6 (the vet said it should be 5), but her ultrasound and x-ray showed no stones or "sludge" (as the vet put it).
Was she exhibiting any symptoms that caused you to get the urinalysis, or was it just a routine check-up? Can you get a copy of the results, including the USG?

The presence of crystals is actually quite normal, especially in a sample that has been sitting around for a while as you pointed out. And the vet is way off base about feline urine pH. Normal is 6.0-6.5. A pH of 5.0 is too acidic and increases the risk of calcium oxalate stones developing. PH also fluctuates throughout the day. I personally wouldn't take any diet advice related to an issue that a vet seems to know very little about.

Cutting out the dry food wouldn't be a bad idea, but I see no need to go crazy looking for another wet food at this point. If you want to try adding some variety to your kitties diets, ZiwiPeak makes some great canned foods without any poultry or plant ingredients. Nature's Variety Instinct Venison or Rabbit are also good, and there are some poultry-free Wellness flavours as well (like Beef & Salmon, and I think a couple of the new Core varieties).

Here's more info on urinary tract stuff, with some of the relevant points clipped out: http://www.catinfo.org/?link=urinarytracthealth
Quote:
Crystals are not thought to be a significant cause of cystitis. This is another very common misconception among both lay people and veterinarians leading to, in many cases, inappropriate usage of acidifying prescription diets which can potentially lead to calcium oxylate stones and exacerbate the bladder inflammation.

That said, dietary management must be considered on a case-by-case basis and one-size-fits-all recommendations with respect to diet composition cannot be given. That said, I will give one 'one-size-DOES-fit-all' statement and that is "canned food is always better than dry food due to the appropriate water content in canned foods."
Quote:
A check for crystals is also not accurate because crystals can form once outside of the bladder in as quickly as 30 minutes. This problem of a 'false positive' can be an issue with urine obtained from a free-catch sample at home, as well as one obtained via cystocentesis that is sent to an outside lab due to the same time delay. If your vet wants to accurately assess for crystals, the urine must be looked at 'in-house' within 30 minutes of cystocentesis or the urine being voided.

pH also may not be accurate in urine samples obtained at home.

A cystocentesis is the best method to obtain urine which will yield the most accurate results.
Quote:
It is also important to note that diet is not the only factor involved in determining urine pH. The timing of the cat's meals is also a factor. 'Post-prandial alkaline tide' refers to the fact that urine pH will become more alkaline after eating a large meal. Therefore, it is suggest that cats eat multiple small meals throughout the day to help keep the pH in a normal range. Small cats in the wild eat 8-10 small meals per day.

pH can also be affected by certain medications, vomiting, chronic kidney disease, urinary tract infection, diet, stress, and as already discussed, the timing of the last meal.
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