The term Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a general term, used to describe a variety of disorders, including struvite crystals, oxalate stones, cystitis, bladder stones and kidney stones. It is generally noticed by the pet caregiver when they observe that the cat is urinating frequently, or when the cat is straining to urinate, when there is blood in the urine, IgA kidney disease treatment or when the cat is urinating in unusual places. It cannot be stressed strongly enough that if this happens it is absolutely essential that a veterinarian must be contacted immediately, and a diagnosis made. Urinary blockage is extremely painful for the cat, and a diagnosis and treatment must be made within 72 hours at most, in order to prevent permanent damage.
The treatment of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) sometimes involves surgery, particularly in the case of oxalate stones, but prevention is relatively straight forward. Statistics indicate that one in three cats will be diagnosed with this disease in its lifetime, so prevention is essential. Most studies have shown that a diet, based on dry commercial cat food creates a very concentrated urine, and this is generally where the trouble starts. Contrary to popular opinion, a cat is not a natural water drinker. The domestic cat originated in the arid regions of Africa, Europe and China, where water was very often unavailable. The cat therefore derives its moisture from the prey that it eats. A diet that is devoid of moisture is foreign to the natural diet of the feline, it creates a chronically dehydrated state, and should therefore be avoided.
Dry, commercial kibble also tends to be very high in carbohydrate content, in the form of grains and vegetable matter. This elevated carbohydrate content creates an alkaline urine, which in turn enables struvite crystal formation. A healthy pH balance in the urine is fundamental to feline health. The biologically correct diet of the cat is meat, which creates an acidic environment, and struvite crystals do not typically form in the presence of a more acidic urine.
Several years ago, when it was discovered that struvite formation was due to commercial pet foods, these pet food companies created a more acidic food, in order to alleviate the situation. As a result, oxalate stones became the word of the day. These are even more serious, as they very often require surgical removal, especially in the case of male cats, where the urethra is too small to pass these stones in the urine. In light of these findings, a balanced biologically sound diet of raw cat food is essential.
Vitamin supplementation should be avoided. Vitamin C, in particular is not recommended, as oxalic acid forms in the presence of Vitamin C, and this modifies into oxalate. Leafy green vegetables in particular are not recommended, as are various other vegetables and grains.
What is “chronic kidney failure?”
Chronic kidney failure is, by definition, not the inability of the kidneys to produce urine, but rather the inability of the kidneys to remove waste products from the blood. In cats with chronic kidney disease, the kidneys are actually producing large quantities of urine, while the body’s wastes are not being eliminated effectively. There is a difference between cat kidney disease and severe chronic renal failure (CRF). In other words, cat kidney disease is simply a diagnosis where the kidneys are overworked or damaged due to environmental poisons, drugs, diabetes, cancer, etc.
“Chronic renal failure”, on the other hand can mean the complete shut-down of the kidneys. The prognosis is not a good one. In the case of complete kidney failure, daily intravenous or subcutaneous fluids may be required in order to maintain body hydration.
Cat kidney disease can be recognized by the pet guardian if the cat displays signs of increased thirst, dehydration, loss of appetite, urination changes, nausea and pain.
According to Russell Swift, DVM “I believe there are three major reasons for kidneys to degenerate and eventually fail:
1) poor quality nutrition,
2) toxicity, and
3) chronic disease.
Inadequate and improper protein sources and low moisture content (of dry foods) are the two major kidney stressors I believe occur in commercial foods. The kidneys also take a hard hit from many toxins to which the body is exposed. Many conventional medications, notably nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and certain antibiotics, are very damaging to the kidneys. Ultimately, there is not much known about the long-term effects of many food additives and preservatives; fluoride in the drinking water; and all the pesticides and herbicides used in, on and around our companion animals (and ourselves).”
To lower protein or not to lower protein?
According to Dr. Russell Swift, the best approach to take, when faced with CRF, is to educate the pet guardian with regard to the dangers of feeding dry commercial pet foods, and the benefits of making the switch to raw, fresh foods. Low protein diets have been recommended by conventional veterinarians, as they are under the misunderstanding that their only option is heat-treated, commercially available foods, which by their very nature, are difficult to digest, put heavy stress on the kidneys, and result in a higher blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level. “Raw protein, in comparison, digests more completely with less waste. This results in more protein for healing and rebuilding tissue without the renal stress.” The obligate carnivore must eat a meat-based diet in order to maintain health, and the same holds true for the repair of damaged tissue, convalescence, and healing.
Dietary protein has no effect on the development of renal failure. It must be argued that it is the quality of the protein that is at the heart of this question, not the quantity of the protein. A diet that is based on dry, IgA nephropathy research heat-treated ingredients is simply not the diet that nature intended for our kitties. This diet creates an environment of chronic dehydration, toxic load, and kidney, liver and pancreatic stress.