In the Know for Feline Nutrition

King tutFeline Nutrition

Feeding your cat a quality, well balanced feline specific diet is important to their overall wellbeing.  Since felines are of desert origin they are obligate carnivores and require meat in their diet. Also, because of this desert origin cats typically drink less water and this can become problematic. It’s important to encourage cats to take in more water by having access to fresh water at all times. Using a pet drinking water fountain is an excellent enticement to drink as well as supplementing with canned cat food. Most cats graze when they eat and will have several small meals throughout the day. This, however can be a problem for cats prone to weight problems, or who have a tendency to overindulge themselves. It is important to only have an appropriate measured amount out for them to eat within the day and be sure to monitor your cat’s weight and body condition regularly. The following points are important to consider when choosing an appropriate diet/ feeding regime for your cat.

  • Kittens, adult cats, and senior cats all have very different nutritional requirements, much like baby, adult and geriatric humans, so avoid diets claimed for all life stages.thirsty kitty
  • If home cooking for your cat is your preference it is important to follow a specific recipe that has been designed by a professional who specializes in nutrition to ensure it is properly balanced. A recent study found 90% of homemade pet food to be nutritionally unbalanced and incomplete.
  • The words ‘Holistic’ or ‘Human Grade’ have no legal definition for pet food, so they can be used on any pet food label without any relation to the ingredients.
  • By products are products produced in the making of something else (ex/flax seed oil, corn oil and soy oil are all by products). Animal by-product meal is an excellent source of nutrients and protein. Avoid foods containing generic name by-products (meat-meal, Animal By-product meal) and go for by products with the source named (Chicken by-product meal).
  • Choose diets with only 1-2 protein sources, since too many proteins sources can increase the cat’s likelihood of having a sensitivity/reaction. 80% of reported food allergies in cats are to Beef, Dairy, and Fish.

munching cat

 

Choosing a food for your cat from all the available options can be very overwhelming as the pet food industry relies greatly on persuasive advertising to sell their products. Veterinary health care providers are your best source for pet food questions. Here at Guelph Animal Hospital we have several different Pet food options for your Cat:

  • Life stage diets and clinically specific dry and canned  foods
  • Supplement and balanced recipe for homemade diets
  • Freeze dried complete & balanced whole foods (just add water)
  • Minimally processed, grain free diets
  • Frozen completely balanced whole food diets

 

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Gotta PeeWhat Every Cat Owner Needs to Know-Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Have you ever had a bladder infection?

Mostly anyone that has is aware that it is an uncomfortable and painful condition that can potentially lead to further complications if left untreated. Just like us, our feline friends can be prone to conditions involving the bladder and urethra. The term used to describe this collection of illnesses is known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD for short. Below is all of the information you need to know to ensure prompt treatment of this common medical occurrence.

What are the symptoms associated with FLUTD?

- Straining to urinate or dribbling small amounts of urine

- Crying out during urination

- Bloody, strong smelling or discoloured urine

- Frequent urination

- Licking at privates excessively

- Urinating outside the litterbox or in unusual locations

- The inability to urinate at all

What factors increase risk?

- Age: being a young or middle-aged cat

- Weight: Being overweight and inactive

- Restricted access to the litterbox

- Environmental: perceived negative interactions with owner, multi-cat households, changes to routine (moving, new litter or litterbox, new addition to the family, new pet, etc.)

- Diet: eating a dry-only diet, poor water consumption or poor quality diet

- Previous occurrences of FLUTD

What are the causes?

Stones- Urinary Stones: these are collections of minerals that look similar to a pebble or ‘stone’ that form in the urinary tract. The two most common types of stone are those comprised of Struvite or Calcium Oxalate.

- A urethral obstruction: this occurs when the cat’s urethra (tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) becomes partly or completely blocked so that the cat is unable to expel urine. This is a very serious medical condition that requires immediate medical care. The most common culprits causing this type of blockage are stones (discussed above) or urethral plugs. Due to the length and diameter of their urethra, a urinary blockage is more common in the male cat. Failure to treat promptly can result in damage to the kidneys or even death.

- Bladder Infections

- Injury to the bladder

- Cancer or Tumors

- Feline Idiopathic Cystitis: This is a diagnosis of exclusion, when all other possible causes have been ruled out. (Idiopathic is a term that is used when the cause is unknown).

How is it Diagnosed?

- A complete physical exam

urinalysis- Urinalysis: for this test, we check the urine for an increase in red or white blood cells, the presence of bacteria, crystals and any other abnormalities.

- Blood Tests: depending on the cause, these tests allow us to determine if the patient’s cell counts indicate infection, whether or not the kidneys are functioning properly and if any other internal organs are involved.

- X-Rays: if stones are suspected, a radiograph allows us to visualize and get an idea how many of them are present.

- Ultrasound: this test allows us to see the bladder, the thickness and shape of its wall, any abnormal structures as well as the presence of excessive sediment or stones.

- Urine culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests

- Endoscopy of the urethra and bladder

What is the treatment?

Treatment of FLUTD will depend on the underlying cause. If the patient has a urinary tract infection, then antibiotics will most likely be prescribed. For more serious underlying origins, treatment will be more invasive:

Urinary Stones:

For cats with struvite stones, a special diet such as Royal Canin Urinary S/O may be prescribed in attempt to dissolve them. In the event that a change in diet is unsuccessful at dissolution or in the case of calcium oxalate stones which cannot be dissolved, a surgery called a Cystotomy is likely required. During this procedure, an incision is made into the abdomen and then into the bladder. Using special surgical instruments, the stones are removed manually. The vet will also flush the urethra to ensure that there are no stones trapped that could potentially cause a blockage.

Urethral Obstruction:

When a cat becomes blocked it is imperative that it is treated immediately. To do this, the patient will be given a sedative and sometimes a general anesthetic. A long catheter is inserted into the urethra and up into the bladder in attempt to remove the blockage. Once this has been done successfully, the catheter is often left in and attached to a urine collection bag for a few days. This allows urine to pass freely and gives the bladder a chance to heal. Most patients are started on IV therapy to assure adequate hydration and normalize electrolyte imbalances if they exist. Antibiotics will be prescribed as well as some medications to aid the bladder with normal function. It is not uncommon for the pet to spend a few days in hospital for this treatment.

Can FLUTD be prevented?

While a large portion of felines with a history of FLUTD can be repeat offenders, there are certain precautions pet owners can take in order to reduce the occurrence or re-occurrence:

- Keeping the litterbox clean and in a quiet place to discourage any associated stress

- Access to clean water at all times

- Feeding a high quality diet, preferably canned and with an S/O index if your cat is pronelitterbox to infections or Struvite crystals.

- Keeping to your cat’s routine

- Ensuring your cat maintains a lean body weight

Diana Hunsberger, RVT