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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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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, 11:27 AM
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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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Old December 27th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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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
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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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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
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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 29th, 2012, 04:06 PM
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MissPurryJess MissPurryJess is offline
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Okay! So! I've done some research - my head is about to explode (again).

Luckily DH is a scientist, so I had a few moments and he was able to help me a bit. I feel like I need a PhD in chemistry to understand all this - and I barely passed chem in high school.

The doctor I like at their current vet (who is supposed to be their nutrition person) called and talked to me for a while today. I asked her to please explain why Hills c/d and Royal Canin SO work - unless they have magic fairy dust, there has to be a reason why they lower the pH of the urine and prevent the formation of struvite crystals. She said that Hills has potassium citrate, that's one of the things about it that's special that lowers pH in urine. But the kitties don't like it and won't eat it and I don't really care for the ingredients, so that one is out. She also said that she believes that what we've done thus far, eliminating dry food altogether and going all canned and adding water to their canned food will make a huge difference. BUT - since both cats appear to have a high pH and struvite crystals, it may be that this isn't a good choice of canned food for them, they may need something with less phosphorous.

So I went here and DH and I looked at the analyses for all of the foods we're considering, as well as their current food. It looks like their current canned food is high in phosphorous - twice as high as it should be. I looked through all the previous threads on this subject as well as sugarcatmom's suggestions and we looked at Wellness CORE turkey/duck and Merrick Cowboy Cookout. Both look like good options - both have almost half as much phosphorous as their current canned food, half the amount of carbs as their current food (and 1/5 the amount of carbs as the Rx option, go figure ), and are low in magnesium. I'm going to call both companies and ask them the target urine pH range for their products.

The vet told me I could call her on Monday and share all of the info I've found with her, and she'd take a look at the products for me.

So I have a plan of action:
1. continue their all-canned water-added diet
2. call the companies on Monday morning (Wellness and Merrick) and ask about the target urine pH of the 2 products I'm interested in
3. call the vet and tell her what I've found
4. try to phase-in one of the new canned foods
5. re-test urine with an in-house test at the vet's office (to prevent the formation of struvite crystals in the urine in the time between when the urine is obtained via cystocentisis and when it's tested) in 2-3 weeks

I think this post was more about putting my thoughts down on "paper" than anything else - so I apologize if I'm babbling a bit. But I feel a lot better about the whole situation. Thank you everyone for your help. Of course chime in anyone if you have more input - and I'll keep everyone updated.

ETA: Daisy and Fitzy say "thank you" to you all for your help.
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Last edited by MissPurryJess; December 29th, 2012 at 04:30 PM.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 04:47 PM
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Beautiful kitties.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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First, gotta say your cats are absolutely scrumptious!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
Okay! So! I've done some research - my head is about to explode (again).
No head-exploding allowed! Although what I'm about to say may increase the possibility:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
there has to be a reason why they lower the pH of the urine and prevent the formation of struvite crystals.
There is, and it's due to the addition of DL-methionine, a synthetic sulphur-containing amino acid. The natural version, L-methionine, occurs sufficiently in meat that it wouldn't normally need to be added to a cat's diet if they were eating enough meat in the first place. The problem is that a large majority of commercial cat foods are too high in plant matter (because it's cheap), not high enough in meat (more expensive, cuts into the pet food company's profits), and therefore there has been a tendency for cats to develop alkaline urine (and thus, struvite crystal formation). So the magic fairy dust that gets added to crappy plant-based prescription foods to increase urine acidity is DL-methionine. When really, the cats should just eat more meat, less plants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
She said that Hills has potassium citrate, that's one of the things about it that's special that lowers pH in urine.
Ugh. Not feeling very confident about this vet's nutrition "expertise". Potassium citrate actually *increases* urine pH (so it makes it more alkaline). The reason this is now added to prescription urinary tract diets is because pet food companies, in all their infinite wisdom and total short-sightedness, caused something worse than struvite crystals with all the DL-methionine they were adding: calcium oxalate crystals. They had succeeded in acidifying the urine so much that the problem now swung in the opposite direction. Enter potassium citrate (or sodium citrate). It's like my 86 yr old grandpa, who is on a gazzillion different meds, each to counteract the side effects of the drug before it. Here's a genius idea: why not go back to the basics, and feed cats the food they were meant to eat - MEAT!! But that wouldn't line the pockets of Big Pet Food enough, so instead we have so-called "prescription" foods for every ailment you can think of (now even anxiety, if you can believe it), all of which contain basically the same horrid ingredients in various reincarnations. There is no "science" behind any of it, just marketing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
5. re-test urine with an in-house test at the vet's office (to prevent the formation of struvite crystals in the urine in the time between when the urine is obtained via cystocentisis and when it's tested) in 2-3 weeks
Good plan. You can also try periodically testing the pH of your kitties' urine at home with test strips if possible. If they consistently show a level above 7 even with the changes you've made, you can add L-methionine powder (found at a health food store) to whatever food you choose. I can give you the amounts if needed. I would only add methionine if you can monitor their urine pH though, because there is a risk that it becomes too acidic.

Hope your head didn't explode just yet!!! I wanna see more pics of your cutie-pies.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 08:17 PM
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Daisy and Fitzy are gorgeous, MissPurryJess!
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Old December 29th, 2012, 09:09 PM
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sugarcatmom - I'm speechless. She seriously told me something completely out of whack?! I looked up potassium citrate and sure enough, it's the exact opposite of what we need. What the?! I didn't see it any other canned food I was considering, so I didn't really look into it. But sure enough. WOW.

I'm apologizing in advance for this rant. I believe in western medicine - I believe that (most) doctors really do want to heal people and help them live a healthy life. I really do. I'm living proof. And I believe that (most) veterinarians really do love animals, want to help animals, want animals to live long and happy lives. But why, the more I read and the more I research, do I start feeling like (most) vets really are completely clueless about nutrition and just believe the marketing shpiels that these pet food companies are pitching them? I read an article about DVMs from UC Davis and Cornell talking about how these prescription diets really are great, and how these small "boutique" brands are preying on our lack of knowledge regarding nutrition and we just buy into the "organic" or "natural" hype. That the huge companies like Purina and Hills were the ones doing real research and putting out good products. Is there science behind putting DL Methionine and potassium citrate in the same product? Is that the magic fairy dust? Do they balance each other out and solve the issue? Isn't it possible that there's a less complicated way of solving the problem? Like feeding these little obligate carnivores actual meat? Like you described with the medications - taking one to combat the side effects of the other - it's maddening. I even asked the vet (who I won't be seeing again, thankyouverymuch) that very question:

me: "Aren't cats obligate carnivores?"
vet: "Yes."
me: "Then shouldn't we be feeding them actual meat?"
vet: *blinks*

Rx diets may be the right choice for some people, and I'm not bashing them, I think most people really do want what's best for their pets, but I just have a hard time swallowing the logic behind this food. And I'm having a hard time with that, as I've always put a lot of trust in doctors and vets. Okay rant over.

Oh, and by the way - the c/d made Fitzy constipated. He didn't "go" for a day, and his tummy was bothering him. Once he finally "went" I was so relieved.

In any case, I've pored over the chart on nutritional composition on catinfo.org, and I have a few options, I think. My kitties prefer pate to chunks or gravy stuff, so I'm worried the Merrick may not work for them (I don't think Weruva will, either) - here's what I've got:

Merrick Cowboy Cookout
Merrick Turducken
Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner
Merrick BG Turkey (it seems to be high in fat but it's low in carbs - and I'm not sure what those ratios should be)
Wellness CORE turkey and duck (this seems to be a bit higher in phosphorous than the others)
Holistic Select duck and chicken (the potato and oatmeal kind of weird me out, but it has low magnesium; it's higher in carbs than the others)

Any other thoughts? These guys are so picky (I guess most cats are), I need to have a few options going in.

Thank you so much for your help with kitty food yet again!

ETA: Thank you everyone for the sweet compliments on my babies! I need to resize some more photos of them - I certainly have enough to choose from!
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Old December 29th, 2012, 10:20 PM
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But why, the more I read and the more I research, do I start feeling like (most) vets really are completely clueless about nutrition and just believe the marketing shpiels that these pet food companies are pitching them?
I hear ya. The thing is, these pet food companies have absolutely enormous marketing budgets. They fund the nutrition programs in every veterinary school in North America. They provide "lecturers", write the "text books", give students free pet food (and pizza and back-packs and on and on). They back all the food-related "research" done at these schools (provided the studies are geared to say what they want) and then give vets incentives for selling their products once they start practicing. I'm not normally a conspiracy theorist, but when it comes to the pet food industry..... well lets just say I don't trust it as far as I can throw it. A really good book on this subject is written by 3 vets with plenty of inside info on the PFI (Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, a feline-only vet that once worked for Hill's, Dr. Marion Smart, a professor of small animal nutrition at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, and Dr. Michael Fox, the outspoken author and newspaper columnist regarding pet health): Not Fit for a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food.

Some other links on why vets just aren't a great source of nutrition info:
Veterinary Nutritionists Promote Pet Food Containing Corn, Wheat and Soy
Why Vets Recommend 'Designer' Chow
Pet Food & Nutrition: A Necessary Review For Veterinarians
Dry cat food -- a conflict of interest on the part of veterinarians

For my cats, I actually have 2 vets: one is feline-only and much more on the allopathic side of things. She's very up-to-date on the latest feline issues and what drugs should or shouldn't be used on them, etc. I don't listen to a thing she has to say about diet. The other vet is very holistic, trained in acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, etc. She's great when it comes to talking diet: believes cats should eat raw. But I don't pay much attention to her when the topic is drugs....she's just not up-to-date enough in that department. Can be hard to find a balance like that and to know who to listen too. I completely understand your frustration.
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Old December 30th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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MissPurryJess MissPurryJess is offline
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sugarcatmom - I need to find a holistic vet I can talk to about nutrition. Because I can't have a conversation with any of these vets about it.

I hate feeling like "the crazy conspiracy theory cat lady" when I go to a vet - inevitably when I say, "I prefer not to feed them a prescription diet, I want to feed them a grain-free meat-based diet," they get a look on their face that says, "Oh. One of them." DH wants me to print out a few papers from peer review journals on feline nutrition - research done by PhDs without grant money from Hills or other pet food companies - and take that with me. His argument is that if the vet still pushes the Rx diet or is dismissive of my feelings about diet that I can give them the papers and say, "Research has shown that cats need to be fed a carnivorous diet without grains or starches - my views aren't radical or uninformed." He feels that if a vet is still resistant after being shown research papers from peer review journals, not just "stuff on the internet", then they're not worth arguing with. His overall feeling is that if someone is a reasonable, intelligent person, they'll back down and say, "Well, let me look into that," or at least be open to listening to your argument when presented with well-respected, scientific studies. If not, if they're just dismissive or get angry, well you can't reason with someone who is unreasonable.

He also said he doesn't think it would be productive to talk to the "nutrition specialist" from their current vet again - she keeps backing herself into a corner and giving me inaccurate information. I believe she has good intentions but when all she can say is, "Well, this Rx diet is the only one I can recommend that is proven to successfully treat urinary tract and bladder issues, it's the only one that has been studied," then she's not really "getting it" anyway.

Off to the pet food store I go! I actually "read" (attempted to read? ) a few of those papers I mentioned above - and while I did need to have some of it explained to me by DH, it appears to be pretty cut-and-dry when it comes to feline nutrition, i.e. cats need to eat meat.

One last scream:

So frustrating! Thank you for the links and reading suggestions - I'll check those out. What would I do without this forum?! Seriously!!!!
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Old December 30th, 2012, 07:02 PM
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Okay new complication - they're not eating enough. Fitzy weighs about 9 lbs, Daisy weighs 9.5ish lbs, and today they've eaten about 3.5 oz of wet food between the two of them (1 and a half 3oz cans). I know that's not enough food. They're still begging me for dry food - Daisy kept me up most of the night begging for it. I'm not giving in, because I'd already weaned them to 1 Tbsp each per day, so I had to take it away altogether.

But since they were eating so little dry food before - I'd say maybe a quarter cup or less each of dry food per day - and the same or less wet food - maybe it's not any less food?

I'd been told it was one 5.5oz can of food per cat per day - we're nowhere near that. When I sprinkle some boiled turkey breast on top they just lick the turkey off. And I don't want to get them used to having "treats" on top of their breakfast and dinner - I want them to just magically eat it!

I'm going explore the catinfo.org site tomorrow and see if there's good advice for switching kitties to a new food or switching to all wet.

Oy!
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Old December 30th, 2012, 10:31 PM
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Can be challenging for sure to get kitties eating better food. The carbs in dry food, and the stuff (smell and flavour enhancers) they spray on it can make it quite addicting. Here are a couple more links to help transition them off the dry. You definitely need them to eat enough in while you do it, so you might have to go back a few steps in the process, or maybe try pulverizing some of the kibble and sprinkling it on top of the wet. Eventually you can use less and less kibble powder.

How to Win the Healthy Food Battle with Your Fussy Feline…
How to Win the Healthy Food Battle with Your Fussy Feline – Part 2
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Old December 31st, 2012, 01:13 AM
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Thanks for all the info!! That's the most I've ever seen that is easy to understand on this problem!! I've got them eating Performatrin..the top of the their line canned food. Around here it's hard to find the large cans and with 4 of them eating it, this is easier. They still go through a large can a day but this way I've cut waaaay back on the crunchies so everyone is getting enough to eat with just the wet food. Coco isn't asking for a drink from the tap nearly as much now so that makes me happy. Nino doesn't seem to be having any problems and he likes the food.

One other thing I notice that's added to the S/O is powdered cellulose! I wondered why when I added water to it, it seemed like there was twice as much, so I guess it is the cellulose expanding!

My guys aren't big on chunky foods either, so I just mash the bits with a fork! Not that they don't have teeth of course!! The one I have now is a very fine chunky type with gravy and that's ok!! They're just a bit spoiled!!
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Old December 31st, 2012, 04:10 PM
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sugarcatmom - Thank you for those links! I'll watch the videos tonight - I read through the wording on the page but didn't have a chance to watch the actual videos yet.

I did take your advice and pulverize some of their dry food and sprinkle that on top of their wet food - they seemed to eat a little bit more. I did that last night and got both of them to eat a bit more - probably about 1 oz each.

The issue is I don't think they ever ate "enough". They've never been big eaters - before we started this transition to all canned food, they were eating probably 1-1.5 oz of wet food per day and 1/4 cup dry food per day.

A big challenge right now is timing - if I don't coerce Daisy to eat some wet food at night right before bed, she will be up ALL NIGHT waking me up begging for food (dry food). And she's not nice about it, either. She pokes me in the face, pulls the covers off of me, chews on my water bottle cap, scratches her nails on the wall, chews on the corner of a photo frame on the wall next to my bed, knocks things off the nightstands, and even stands on top of me and smacks me with her paw. She's relentless. But last night I coerced her into eating some wet with crunchie dust right before bed and she only woke me up once (I just grabbed her and rolled over so she'd lay down) and then again around 5:30/6am, and at that point it's DH's turn to get up and give her breakfast (canned food). She's so bratty. Fitzy just makes a sad face when I deny him dry food, gives up, and gets into bed.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 12:09 PM
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Just a quick update!

The kitties are adjusting to the all wet diet. I still sprinkle a dusting of pulverized dry food (like 2 kibbles worth) on their canned food every now and then, and that encourages them to eat a bit more. They're eating a bit more wet every day, and their dry food is completely gone (except for the aforementioned dusting of dry kibble dust on the canned, which I'm slowly decreasing). They're getting water mixed in with their food (a few Tbsp per 3 oz can), but their water consumption from the water bowl has gone way down. Hopefully they're getting all the water they need from the canned food.

Daisy has stopped waking me up all night for food!! We discovered that a little "midnight snack" of some wet food right before we got into bed was all she needed to stay quiet until morning - now she wakes me up at 6am and I roll over and poke DH and he gets up and feeds her.

We have an appointment for Friday to get their urine retested at a different vet. Fingers crossed that there has been some improvement! The next step is to slowly transition them onto a wet diet with less phosphorous - the venison is almost twice as high in phosphorous as we'd like. We're going to do this very slowly and hope that they like one of the low phosphorous, grain-free, turkey/duck diets we've picked out.

And last but not least - remember the vet "nutrition specialist" who was giving me all that incorrect hooey/info? She called me yesterday - she's coming over to our side!! I had this look on my face the entire phone call:



She told me that after I voiced my concerns about the Rx diet and insisted they be on a grain-free meat-based diet that she started doing some research. To sum it all up, she told me she'd come to realize that a high-protein, low-carb, grain-free, low-phosphorous canned food was the way to go with my kitties. She even said, "You know, their food in the wild is about 70% water, and canned food is 78% moisture, and dry food is only 5-10% moisture - so canned is definitely the way to go! I just had to share that with someone - I found that so interesting." And "I read a paper about high protein diets and how an all-meat diet can prevent struvite crystals from forming because it naturally controls the pH of the urine." I'm glad she finally did some research and read some papers by REAL researchers, not hacks paid by Hills to publish fake "results" about their Rx diets. It was such a revelation for her. I feel good about that, at least I feel like I initiated some change, however small, in that practice, since she said that this changed the way she viewed nutrition. But I still think that finding a holistic vet to talk about diet with and a regular vet for vaccines and other things would be a good thing to do. A friend recommended a holistic vet about 2 miles from my house, so I'm going to call there after they have their urinalysis and see if she has any input on diet.

So things are moving in the right direction - slowly but surely. sugarcatmom - Maybe we can slowly help bring the vets over to "our" side - I'm seriously still at the conversation I had with her yesterday. I'm glad it happened, but I wish she'd had that revelation a while ago.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 07:46 PM
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Thats good to hear the kitties are eating more. That phone call from the nutrition specialists call would have gave me the same look. atleast you have her actually researching more about the diet for kitties. good luck at the vet tomorrow.and that there is some improvement.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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Update! Daisy had a cystocentisis and urinalysis and no crystals!! We're waiting for the rest of the results, pH and so forth - hopefully we'll get them in the next day or so (this vet is open over the weekend).

Fitzy - his bladder was empty. I'm going to take him in for another try next week - first thing in the morning. The only time they were able to get urine from him in the past was when I took him out of our bed and directly to the vet in the morning.

So we're on pins and needles waiting to hear about Daisy's pH - fingers crossed. But no crystals is fantastic - I feel really good about that.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 08:49 PM
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That daisys ph levels are fine. for no crystals
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Old January 4th, 2013, 10:14 PM
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Update! Daisy had a cystocentisis and urinalysis and no crystals!!
Sweet!!! Happy to hear it.

(And so very excited to hear about the vet that "saw the light" as far as what cats should be eating. I love hearing about stuff like that! )
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Old January 7th, 2013, 10:06 AM
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I got a call from the vet today - Daisy's pH is 7.5. Her urine is also very concentrated. It was only 2 weeks since the last test, so I don't know if that's why - if it hasn't had a chance to normalize since we switched their diet or what.

The vet wasn't helpful - surprise surprise. I asked what I could do to lower the pH, since we've already switched to an all-canned diet with water mixed in, and of course she goes, "Yada yada yada prescription diet". I think I made her angry - I said something like, "Unless there's magic fairy dust in the food there has to be a reason why it's being prescribed - so what is it in this Rx food that's going to lower her urine pH?" Her response? "I'm not a biochemist so I can't really say." And then she goes, "Upping their water intake is the best thing you can do." Okay. Sure. Obviously. That's why we're on a canned diet and adding water!!!

WTF?! Am I that difficult? Seriously? Am I that crazy? Shouldn't the doctor KNOW exactly WHAT is going to lower the pH? How is prescribing a food in any way helpful if they don't even know the reason why the food is supposed to help?!

Now I want to go back to the OTHER vet! I'm losing my mind here. We still have to take Fitzy in for a urinalysis since they couldn't get any urine the last time. I'm debating which vet I want to take him to. I'm fully aware they probably both think I'm nuts, but I don't even care at this point.

I gave Daisy some Nature's Variety Instinct grain-free duck wet food this morning and she LICKED THE BOWL CLEAN. She's eating some more now. Have any of you heard of this version, though?

Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey

I don't think I've even seen it anywhere - but it looks good. I like how it's just one protein, it seems like it would be good to switch around with another food to give them some variety. I called the company to ask them how many mg of phosphorous/100 kcals, and they didn't have that information readily available, so they're going to email me with the answer.

So frustrating. I just want a vet who UNDERSTANDS why they prescribe this food. GIVE ME A REASON. If my doctor said, "Oh, you've got high cholesterol, here, eat this," I'd want to know WHY eating that particular thing would lower my cholesterol - I wouldn't blindly eat it. I don't blindly do anything my doctor says - I like knowing WHY and HOW something will help me. And if they don't know why, be honest. I don't think that's too much to ask from a vet. I know these vets work really hard to get their DVMs and do fellowships and internships and work insane hours and see terrible things so they can help our pets - I'm not slamming vets, because I do respect them - but this "The Rx diet will fix that" BS is not working for me. It's not right.
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Old January 7th, 2013, 11:38 AM
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I got a call from the vet today - Daisy's pH is 7.5. Her urine is also very concentrated. It was only 2 weeks since the last test, so I don't know if that's why - if it hasn't had a chance to normalize since we switched their diet or what.
Is there a way for you to try testing her urine pH at home? You should be able to find test strips at a health food store, or you can order them online: http://www.amazon.com/PHion-Balance-.../dp/B000VRU4US I can give you tips on urine-catching if you need them.

Did the vet say exactly what the specific gravity value was? And was Daisy fasted at all before the test? That could affect both the pH and the USG. I don't think cats are typically fasted for a urinalysis, but thought I'd ask just in case.

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Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
Have any of you heard of this version, though?

Instinct Limited Ingredient Turkey
Ohhhh, that looks like a great food! Must be new, I haven't seen it anywhere here yet either. And they have lamb as well....sweet! Aztec luvs him some lamby chops. Let me know what they say about the phosphorus level.

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I don't blindly do anything my doctor says - I like knowing WHY and HOW something will help me.
Amen sistah!! If more people thought like this, more doctors/vets/etc would have to be more accountable for their prescriptions and treatment plans, and maybe, just maybe, they would actually research the products they endorse rather than merely regurgitate the marketing from the product manufacturers (ie Big Pharma or Big Pet Food. Same diff.)
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Old January 7th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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sugarcatmom - I don't know how to do the quoting thing like you do! I need to figure that out.

Daisy wasn't fasted - the test was in the evening, around 7:30pm, so she'd definitely had plenty to eat that day. I asked the vet about the home test strips - I don't remember her response, it was wishy washy. How do you test the urine once they've already used the litter box? Both of them are weird about the box - it's on the ground floor on a little landing in front of the basement door (not our choice, Fitzy's choice ), and if they sense someone coming down the stairs towards the box they jump out and run. They don't like to be watched, either - if I'm standing anywhere near that staircase they will look at me like, "Um, do you mind?" until I leave, then they'll use the box. If there's a way to get the urine once they've used the box I'd get the strips.

She didn't give me any of that information - but I'm going to go over there tomorrow and ask for a copy of the test, so I'll let you know when I get it. I need to drop off a release form for their insurance paperwork, so I'll ask for a copy of the test, too - so I can bring it with me to my previous vet! I talked to DH and he pointed out that while the previous vet gave us some whacked out information, she did take the time to do research and call me multiple times and see things from my point of view. I like the facility better, too - plus it's way closer. So I'm going to go back to the first vet with the hope that the she will continue to inform herself about nutrition and come over to our side!

Nature's Variety got back to me almost immediately - this is the email I got:

Quote:
Thank you for calling and here are the phosphorus amounts in the Instinct cans:

Instinct LID Turkey - 147 mg/100kcal
Instinct LID Duck - 139 mg/100kcal
Instinct LID Lamb - 134 mg/100kcal
Instinct Duck - 142 mg/100kcal

Let us know if you have any other questions.

Sincerely,
Scott
Consumer Relations
Nature's Variety
1-888-519-7387
www.naturesvariety.com
The values he gave for the Instinct Duck are different than what Dr. Pierson has on her chart - she has it at 191 (he at 142). He told me he would do the calculation for me (when I told him I wanted to know how many mg per 100kcal), so that's apparently what he ended up with after some math. I tried to get some of the turkey today, but the store didn't have it yet - it was being ordered, and I should get a call next week to go pick up a few cans and give it a go. Right now both kitties are CHOWING DOWN on the Instinct duck - like obsessively. I mixed it with their venison and they're going to town.

Is there a specific way I should be switching their wet food? We're done with dry - all done. I don't even do the sprinkle of pulverized dry - they don't seem to need it anymore and they're eating a few more ounces of wet a day now (up to about 4 oz each). They'll just eat the new food straightaway, but I don't know if that's good for their tummies - I've read a lot about how to switch from dry to wet, but what about from one wet to another? *off to google*
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Old January 7th, 2013, 04:50 PM
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sugarcatmom - I don't know how to do the quoting thing like you do! I need to figure that out.
It's kinda convoluted and I only do it to try to be clear about the issue I'm addressing, so if you're as anal as me (and I actually suspect you might be!! ), here's how:

I break down the full quote by inserting "[/quote]" at the end of the first part I want to reply to. Then for the next part, I copy/paste the initial quote info: "[ QUOTE=MissPurryJess;1051912[" and insert that at the beginning of the next part I want to address, with the "[/quote[" at the end. (I turned the end brackets around for this example so that it wouldn't actually perform the quote).

A simpler way is to just copy/paste the comments you want to quote, highlight them, and then click the little speech bubble icon along the top of the reply box. That automatically puts the quote tags around the text, just not with the fancy "Originally posted by sugarcatmom" part.

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I asked the vet about the home test strips - I don't remember her response, it was wishy washy.
She may not be that familiar with home-testing urine pH, or maybe she's one of those vets who hates to relinquish control . Either way, it can give a much more accurate picture of what's going on because you can get multiple test samples at different times of the day/week. Since pH fluctuates, the sample at the vet is just a tiny snapshot of a bigger scenario.

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How do you test the urine once they've already used the litter box?
Couple things you could try. One is to temporarily substitute the regular litter for something non-absorbent if your cats don't freak out about it and pee elsewhere instead. Aquarium gravel is an option, or un-popped popcorn. Vets sell something called No-Sorb, but it's stupidly expensive. Something else I've heard other people try is to put a layer of Saran wrap on top of the litter. The urine should pool in the folds and you can test it from there. Haven't tried this myself and my crazy diggers would probably fling it all over the place. I'm lucky, none of my cats are shy pee-ers, so I can just slide a shallow jar lid under their butts once they start going.

Oh, gotta run but I'll with you more later.....
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Old January 7th, 2013, 08:43 PM
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Nature's Variety got back to me almost immediately - this is the email I got:


The values he gave for the Instinct Duck are different than what Dr. Pierson has on her chart - she has it at 191 (he at 142).
Dr. Pierson's value is for just the regular NV Instinct Duck, not the Limited Ingredient version. I so can't wait until these new formulas are available here! They'd be great for Aztec and his renal insufficiency. I also noticed a few other new products on the NW website, like pork and salmon. Very cool.


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Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
He told me he would do the calculation for me (when I told him I wanted to know how many mg per 100kcal),
Now that's great customer service!! Considering so many companies don't even bother getting back to people when they ask such questions.

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Is there a specific way I should be switching their wet food?
Not unless they have super sensitive digestive tracts that need a slower transition. I switch wet food with all my kitties at the drop of a hat. In fact, they never get the same food twice in a row. Most cats are able to handle changes like that.... blame pet food companies for trying to "force" brand loyalty in their customers by spreading the myth that cats and dogs must always eat the same food. Now some cats do indeed need a more gradual changeover, or perhaps some probiotics to help equalize the gut flora. A little bit of soft stool for a week or 2 isn't a big deal though.
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Old January 7th, 2013, 09:48 PM
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Dr. Pierson's value is for just the regular NV Instinct Duck, not the Limited Ingredient version. I so can't wait until these new formulas are available here! They'd be great for Aztec and his renal insufficiency. I also noticed a few other new products on the NW website, like pork and salmon. Very cool.
Eeep I'm trying the quote thing - I don't think I've quite figured out how to get your name in there, though. For the phosphorous values he gave me the LI foods as well as the regular Instinct duck - that's where I saw the discrepancy. The LI duck is listed as 139 and the regular Instinct duck as 142. But in any case they're way below 250, which was my goal. And I was surprised at how quickly he responded! That definitely gave them points in my book.

Quote:
Not unless they have super sensitive digestive tracts that need a slower transition. I switch wet food with all my kitties at the drop of a hat. In fact, they never get the same food twice in a row. Most cats are able to handle changes like that.... blame pet food companies for trying to "force" brand loyalty in their customers by spreading the myth that cats and dogs must always eat the same food. Now some cats do indeed need a more gradual changeover, or perhaps some probiotics to help equalize the gut flora. A little bit of soft stool for a week or 2 isn't a big deal though.
So I gave the kids some of the Instinct duck this afternoon and they gobbled it up. BUT - they do that with any new food. It's like toddlers getting a hold of a new toy - they play with it for a few minutes but when you show it to them later they're like, "Meh. Old news." I gave it to them again tonight and they ate some of it. Then I broke out the Merrick Thanksgiving day dinner and they gobbled that up, too. So I guess I'll just find a few they like and continue feeding it to them - we may get into a cycle of "I love it!" "I hate it!" with them for a while until we find a good fit. They've never been very good at rotating foods - I'd like to give them more variety, but they've always been attached to one particular food at a time. I guess we'll see tomorrow whether or not Fitzy's tummy is handling the food okay!

So now my NEW game plan is:

1. continue switching them over from the venison to one of the canned foods that's based on a protein that originally had feathers (duck, turkey, etc.)
2. pick up Daisy's lab results at the last vet, drop off her insurance paperwork
3. take Fitzy back to the OLD vet, give them Daisy's latest results, and have a cystocentesis/urinalysis for Fitzy
4. get some pH strips

I'm not sure if the saran wrap will work - they don't like other litters (I tried switching it once when Fitzy's plasma cell pododermatitis was acting up) - they'll just hold it in indefinitely until I cave. The problem is that Daisy will EAT the saran wrap - she LOOOOOVES plastic.

Maybe some day I'll actually address the pica issue.

But what will keep me up tonight is the question of what to do if their urine pH doesn't become normal after implementing this new diet. Now that we're fairly sure that Daisy doesn't have crystals, I still need to address their high pH and concentrated urine. If their diet doesn't fix that, then what? I haven't gotten that far with the vet yet.

I'm going to go take my kittens to bed! DH and I frequently quote Top Gun around here - he does it in Fitzy or Daisy's voice:

"Take me to bed or lose me forever."

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Old January 8th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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For the phosphorous values he gave me the LI foods as well as the regular Instinct duck - that's where I saw the discrepancy.
D'wuh. Somehow I didn't see that. Maybe his numbers are for a more recent batch or something?


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It's like toddlers getting a hold of a new toy - they play with it for a few minutes but when you show it to them later they're like, "Meh. Old news."
Mine are like that too, which is why they get a different flavour/brand for every meal. Keeps them interested. I should seriously take a picture of my cat food pantry... it'll make you laugh.

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The problem is that Daisy will EAT the saran wrap - she LOOOOOVES plastic.
Oh right! I forgot about that issue. With Aztec, I just wait until he starts peeing and then slide the lid under his butt. Once the stream is going, he isn't likely to stop it. Will your two use the box if there's only a thin layer of litter? Sometimes if you get to the pee spot quickly before it soaks in, you can do a quick test. Not sure if different litters might affect the pH though. I'll see if I can find any other tips that might help in your case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPurryJess View Post
I still need to address their high pH and concentrated urine. If their diet doesn't fix that, then what?
Adding yet more water to the food should help with the USG. I also have a link somewhere about how to get more fluids into a cat, but the easiest is just to make the food as wet as they'll tolerate.

As for the pH, you can get L-methionine from a health food store and add a measured amount to the food (if you need dosages, I can find that for you). But I would strongly advise only doing this if you can test the urine pH at home, since you need to be sure you aren't over-acidifying.

Happy kitty snuggling! None of mine like sleeping on the bed for very long, except sometimes Carrot comes for some lovin' in the middle of the night. We call him our Midnight Cuddler.
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