Oct 27, 2018
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, when Dr. T was but a lad freshly graduated from veterinary school, there was a disease of cats called F.U.S. - "Feline Urologic Syndrome." Cats, especially those who preferred dry foods, would make nasty, razor-blade-like crystals in their urine. These cats would strain to urinate, pee all over the place (particularly places where the owner would notice, like your bedspread or favorite chair), and pass blood in their urine. Male cats, neutered or otherwise, would obstruct and become completely unable to urinate. These cats could die in as little as 24 hours, and often required several days in the hospital with a catheter in their bladder before they could reliably regain the ability to pee by themselves.
Then the Research Fairy discovered that the problem was NOT the ASH in the diet, but a complex interaction between the amount of MAGNESIUM in the food and the nutrient mixture that resulted in urine with a high pH (low acidity) and high concentration. The combination of these things resulted in the precipitation of little razor blade (struvite) crystals in the urine, which cut up the bladder lining, caused pain and bleeding, and could ultimately result in the formation of sandy plugs that made it impossible for the poor boy cats to pee.
"HURRAY!" cried the happy cat owning villagers and veterinarians. "Hurray!" cried the makers of cat foods, who rushed to adjust their food recipes to eliminate the problem. "Meow!" cried the kitties who no longer were forced to pee bloody urine all over the place.
When the foods were improved, FUS became (pretty much) a thing of the past. Veterinarians were forced to come up with a new name - "Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease", and later, "Feline Interstitial Cystitis" for the cats who continued to have similar problems even when the crystals were not present in their urine.
And it looked like everyone would live happily ever after.
BUT time passes, and the memories of men (but not women) are short. As the decades passed, new manufacturers of cat food came on the scene with new, and often very expensive kitty diets with catchy names. The wisdom of the past having been forgotten, these diets were no longer formulated in a way that prevented the formation of struvite crystals. And then, much to the despair of kitties and kitty lovers and veterinarians, the dreaded struvite crystals crept back into the urine of kitties, and some cats started to suffer - again - from a disease that had become all but a thing of the past.
BEWARE! Lovers of kitties! BEWARE! BEWARE! Choose your kitty's diet carefully lest the dreaded struvite crystalluria visit a plague upon your cat. Seek the highest quality and well known, well-established brands. Do your research before choosing the latest fad diet. Your kitties' pee, and your favorite bedspread depend upon it!
Here is a picture of the struvite crystals from the urine of a cat we saw recently. He was unable to pee and had to be unblocked (and his owner had been paying a premium price for trendy cat food).
I want to warn cat lovers to beware of trendy and fad diets. Do you really think your cat needs to eat like a Puma? Or that your Poodle is really a Wolf? Remember Gravy Train? Does anyone think for one minute that dogs care whether it "makes its own gravy?"
Fads include “grain free,” “raw,” and diets marketed with buzzwords like “all natural,” “human quality” (whatever that means), and “wild,” just to name a few. Some of these diets are just fine, but others, not so much. BEWARE of any diet that relies on a gimmick to make the sale.
MOST commercial diets are adequate for normal cats. Cats with special needs often need special diets. The purpose of those flashy ads and sparkly product labels is to get you to buy that particular product - NOT to educate or inform you. Retail vendors recommend whatever products they are selling. Often they recommend whatever product gives them the greatest profit margin. BEWARE!
If your cat has a special problem (like renal disease), some diets - even some prescription products - are not appropriate and can be deleterious to your cat’s health. Who can tell you if this is true?
Anyone? How about you there, in the back? No. Sorry. It is not the teenage clerk at the pet store. No. Not the TV commercial either.
YOUR VETERINARIAN is the best source of a recommendation for your kitty’s special needs.
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