A comprehensive fact sheet on cat food to prevent struvite crystals
The formation of struvite crystals is one of the more common FLUTDs (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases) affecting cats of all breeds. It not only causes gut-wrenching pain for your feline but entails numerous vet bills because the treatment can last for a long time. If you are looking into appropriate cat food to prevent struvite crystals, this article will be your guide. We will discuss how dietary choices play a significant role in preventing and managing kidney and bladder illnesses in felines.
Preventing struvite stones is possible with the right nutrition. Untamed addresses all your concerns and helps you come up with the right strategy for your cat’s well-being.
Do you feel heartbroken every time your cat winces to pee? Hang in there—solutions are just around the corner.
How do struvite crystals form in cats?
Before designing the struvite prevention diet for cats, you should understand the core cause of the condition.
Struvite is essentially a mineral accumulation of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate hexahydrate found in a cat’s urine. Even a healthy cat will have struvite of microscopic sizes in their urine. The problem occurs when their kidneys don’t get enough fluid to flush out the struvite, which leads to a gradual mineral deposit. It eventually hardens and turns into tiny stones, causing a blockage in the urinary tract and making it hard for your cat to pee.
Struvite formation in felines is triggered by several factors, including the following:
- Alkaline urine—The standard pH of a cat’s urine is between 6.0 to 6.5. A higher number (alkaline urine) often suggests the presence of bladder stones caused by a urinary tract infection, inflammation, or thyroid dysfunction
- Concentrated urine—Low hydration levels in cats suggest their urine is heavily concentrated. Ideally, a cat’s Urine Specific Gravity (USG) should range between 1.008 and 1.012. Higher values imply that mineral deposits may get left behind in the urinary tract instead of being swooshed out
- An unbalanced diet—The formation of struvite crystals is also a sign of a cat’s meals containing more magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate than their system can process
Your cat's diet should be carefully planned to prevent the formation of struvite crystals.
Cat food to prevent bladder stones—practical tips
Many cat parents believe that picking the right cat food for averting struvite crystals is an instant solution for their cat’s renal health. In reality, struvite prevention is a three-step process, also dubbed the three Rs of feline bladder stones diet:
- Review the diet
- Restrict problematic ingredients (temporarily or permanently)
- Reinstate the dietary moisture content
We will address these three aspects in the following sections.
Reviewing your cat’s diet for fluid and mineral imbalance
Cats are natural-born carnivores who need a diet rich in animal proteins for growth and sustenance. Animal meat contains adequate quantities of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins for cats, but most pet food products do not deliver nutrients proportionately, leading to imbalances in the long run.
Refer to the following table to understand how to review your cat’s diet for potential imbalances that could lead to stony deposits:
The lack of fluids is the most common contributor to bladder stones, especially for indoor cats dependent on dry food. The water content in food helps kidneys filter out the waste matter. Meals low in water content set off gastrointestinal and kidney problems in cats
Cats need minerals for:
While mineral deficiency can cause various diseases in cats, a surplus directly stresses the kidneys. Your goal is to prevent the sedimentation of minerals, not remove them from your cat's diet entirely
Cats get energy from the oxidation of micronutrients—proteins and fats. A surplus of any micronutrient causes their system to overwork to process the excess amounts. As a cat parent, you should ensure that:
Restricting problematic ingredients is a slippery slope
Protein is often painted as the bad guy in any conversation about cat food for urine crystals. Since meat contains minerals, removing it from your cat's diet should fix the problem with crystals. Although necessary in certain cases, this solution may do more harm than good in the long run.
Most renal-friendly food on the market follows a pretty rigid formula—low in proteins and high in carbs and fibre. According to vets, the protein elimination diet, whether temporary or permanent, only works for cats who cannot handle minerals due to chronic kidney disease (CKD). Depriving other felines of protein entails:
- Hindering their muscle development
- Compromising their natural immunity
- Increasing the risk of conditions like chronic shedding, patchy (tender) skin, arthritis, and anorexia
- Triggering allergies because of biologically incompatible food
Does a high-carb, low-protein diet work for healthy cats?
If you look into feline biology, you’ll see that they do not require carbohydrates to survive. Putting a healthy cat on a high-carb diet as a precautionary measure for struvite crystals is not a good idea, potentially leading to:
- Heart diseases
- Stomach sensitivity (feline digestive glands do not have the adequate enzymes to break down too many carbs at once—an overstressed digestive system means frequent episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting)
Cats, being natural meat-eaters, have acidic urine. A low-protein, high-carb diet can make their urine too alkaline, which is a fertile ground for bacterial infections.
Can vegetable proteins do the trick?
Vegetable proteins may seem like a good alternative for cats with weak kidneys, but they are far from ideal. For starters, cats have a hard time digesting vegetable proteins. Such proteins do not contain taurine, an essential amino acid found in seafood, poultry, and other meat. Unlike dogs, cats cannot produce taurine, and prolonged deficiency may cause blindness and enlarged heart in cats.
What other food items can cause struvite mineral formation?
Take note of the following items rich in minerals:
- Milk and dairy products (contain heavy ammonium compounds)
- Leafy greens (contain magnesium)
- Chocolates (high in phosphorus)
- Whole grains (high in phosphorus and magnesium)
- Mineral-heavy fruits like guava, kiwis, and bananas
- Salty snacks (too much sodium is bad for the kidneys)
Balancing equations: Carbs + Water - Proteins = A chubby cat?
Source: Cats Coming
What is the takeaway on restrictive diets?
Fixing a diet for the prevention of struvite crystals can seem more complicated than it is, so here's a summary of crucial points:
- Consider a protein-restricted diet only if your cat has a severe kidney problem
- Make sure to consult your vet before curating a restrictive meal plan as it can be unnecessary and dangerous
- Lay off mineral-rich snacks
- Prepare a strict feeding schedule for your cat
- Feed smaller portions to ensure their system is not over-stressed from processing too much food at once
Reinstating moisture in your cat’s diet is THE game-changer
According to the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS), cats on a moisture-deficit, dry-food-only diet are more likely to suffer from bladder stones. Cats are not avid water drinkers, which makes them prone to dehydration and related renal and urinary ailments.
A cat needs around 60ml of water daily for every kilogramme of their weight. Since water boosts urine dilution and helps sweep out the waste minerals, well-hydrated cats may not need to switch to protein-restrictive diets.
Let’s look into some solutions below to ensure your cat stays hydrated.
Use wet food
Wet food contains 60%–80% moisture, which enables smooth digestion in felines and prevents stones from forming. You can opt for:
- A balanced diet based on wet food only (preferably cooked, as raw meat may contain pathogens)
- Complimentary wet food and snacks—like jelly meat—to go with dry food (this works great for cat kibble addicts)
Install multiple water stations
Discover your cat’s favourite hangout spots around the house and set aside separate water bowls for each location. Believe it or not, cats tend to drink more water if they find slurping opportunities on their usual wandering route!
Get creative with their water intake
If you have a fussy cat, get creative with the way you offer water. Here’s what you can do to pique their interest:
- Get them an interactive water dispenser
- Add flavour to their water, i.e., make unsalted meat or bone broths to tickle their senses
Cats have a keen sense of smell and react badly to foul odours. Try to:
- Clean their bowls daily
- Offer fresh water only
- Keep water bowls separate from litter trays
Do struvite crystals go away with the right cat food?
Mild cases of struvite crystals can disappear with the help of a proper diet, but you should get a professional opinion to be sure. Visit the vet immediately after noticing the following symptoms:
- Changes in peeing habits—Since struvite crystals cause urinary obstruction, you will notice clear warning signs that your cat is struggling to pee:
- Frequenting the litter tray more often but passing little to no urine
- Urinating in unlikely places due to urinary incontinence
- Straining while urinating, often accompanied by painful meows
- Producing foul-smelling, concentrated urine, sometimes with hints of blood
- Behavioural indicators—Cats with peeing difficulties internalise a lot of stress, which manifests as:
- Disinterest in daily activities
- Obsessive licking and grooming of the genital area
- Appetite changes—Cats experience a decreased appetite and may even stop eating because of the constant abdominal discomfort
Should I be scared about my cat’s bladder stone diagnosis?
The good news is that bladder stones can be easily treated, even in serious cases!
The severity of a cat’s bladder stone diagnosis depends on:
- The radiograph report determining the size of the deposits
- Bloodwork and urinalysis tests that determine the type of stones—struvite or calcium oxalate
Based on the size and type of deposits, your veterinarian may recommend the following treatment plans:
Mild cases have minuscule stones easily flushed out with:
Moderate cases of bladder stones require medications along with the mild treatment plan above, especially if the cat is dealing with an underlying UTI. The meds will be a combination of antibiotics, painkillers, and stone dissolution pills
In critical cases, the cat fails to urinate due to extreme obstruction. Surgical intervention is necessary to remove the stones quickly
Special diet for cats with struvite crystals
If your cat is on stone dissolution medication or recuperating after the surgical procedure, your vet may recommend a tailor-made medical-grade diet. If there is no such specification, you can:
- Switch to easy-to-digest wet cat food that:
- Is free of grains and low-quality proteins
- Has hypoallergenic formulas
- Offers light gravy or jelly products
- Cook homemade broths with high-quality meat
Whatever you choose to feed your cat, keep the portion sizes small until they make a full recovery.
Remember that medical intervention is not a permanent solution for cats with bladder stones. Many cats keep getting struvite crystals, with seniors and males at a higher risk. The genetic make-up of Siamese cats also makes them vulnerable to bladder stones. If you want long-term solutions, the only reliable way to prevent bladder stones in cats is to put them on a diet rich in moisture.
Looking for the best cat food to prevent crystals and other bladder stones? Try Untamed!
Recurring episodes of struvite and other crystals can leave your feline bruised and battered from the inside. If you are looking for high-quality food to keep them healthy, turn to Untamed! Our wet food recipes contain over 75% moisture content with prime cuts of meat in delicious gravy or jelly.
Most crystal prevention cat food products go overboard with cheap, fattening carbs and hold back on animal proteins. Such food may prevent mineral deposits but will not contribute to your cat's health in the long run. At Untamed, we respect the natural dietary instincts of felines by adding animal-sourced protein to our meals. Our food contains human-grade whole meats sourced from chemical- and cruelty-free farms!
Untamed’s food is perfect for all cats because we:
- Use vet-formulated recipes—Bladder stones and similar medical conditions are less likely to affect cats on a balanced diet. Our recipes honour the nutritional values recommended by vets to provide the ideal amounts of every essential nutrient
- Preserve the nutritional content of our food—We steam-cook our food to keep all the nutrients and the aroma. If your cat is fussy about food, our scrumptious meals will tantalise their taste buds!
To get our trial taster pack at the best deal, click on this link and tell us about your cat’s food preferences.
We feel it’s imperative to restate that our products have whole meats packed with proteins—if your cat needs a medically approved protein-restrictive diet, our recipes may not be suitable for them.
Untamed’s hydrating wet food range can smoothen out rocky terrains!
Source: (c) Untamed
From rocks to rock-solid—watch your furry friend flourish with Untamed!
When cats revert to a whole-meat diet, they receive all the nutrients while staying properly hydrated. That’s why Untamed’s formulas work for all cats, young or old. When you feed Untamed to weaned-off kittens, their growth and muscle development are automatically optimised. Since our preparations are free from grains and indigestible fillers, they are also suitable for kittens prone to diarrhoea.
Untamed can be a superfood for senior cats who need high-quality proteins and not too many calories to stay fit. With age, kidney and heart ailments may creep up to torment your cat. Untamed’s products are rich in taurine and antioxidants, keeping age-related illnesses at bay.
Our clients have noted numerous positive changes in their cats after switching to Untamed, including the following:
- Easy digestion
- Natural pH levels
- Zero hairballs
- No trouble urinating or pooing (means no pesky rock deposits!)
- Stronger immune response against seasonal illnesses
- Great energy throughout the day (no moodiness!)
- Trouble-free weight management
Fight struvite—Choose Untamed and be the knight in shining armour your cat deserves!
Source: (c) Untamed
Pet pantry shopping simplified with Untamed!
With Untamed, ordering cat food online is as easy as ABC! We offer free home deliveries for all orders, and all you have to do is:
- Visit our TRY NOW page and let us know more about your cat
- Review our meal plan
- Order your starter pack
We will deliver your order to your doorstep within a day, and Untamed will replenish your supplies around the same time every month. Our terms for subscription of cat food are pretty flexible—you can use your Untamed account to pause, skip, or cancel any order 24 hours before the delivery date.
All our packaging is recyclable, and we strive to keep our carbon footprint super low. Untamed is committed to ethical cat food production along with offering the best food to your cat!
Give us a chance to serve you and your extraordinary feline—you won’t regret it!
Source: (c) Untamed