Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) affects an estimated 1-3% of cats each year. That makes it one of the most common cat diseases. Feline urinary tract disease results in difficulty urinating or the total inability to urinate. In the case of a complete blockage, FLUTD can result in toxins building up in the body – this can lead to death. There are numerous factors that contribute to your cat’s risk of developing a UTI or other urinary tract disease. One important risk factor is their diet. Let’s take a look at different types of cat food to figure out what’s the best cat food for urinary health.
Dry Cat Food for Urinary Health
Let’s talk about dry cat food for urinary health. Unfortunately, dry cat food is the most popular type of cat food in the United States, despite the huge body of evidence that it contributes to urinary tract disease.
It all comes down to nature. Cats are obligate carnivores. They naturally subsist on raw prey. Consider that their prey consists of around 75% water. Looking at it this way, it makes sense that cats in the wild don’t spend a huge amount of time around the watering hole. When you take a cat that is biologically designed to eat animals and feed them a dry diet, a problem appears. The cat doesn’t drink enough water to make up for their dry diet. Simply put, cats that live off of a dry diet are chronically dehydrated.
There is a positive correlation between a dry cat food diet and the likelihood of developing a urinary tract disease.
The Jerusalem study, published in a 2011 edition of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, revealed something that cat owners should be paying attention to. Two groups of 82 cats, one group diagnosed with urethral obstruction and the other group healthy, were involved in the study. Of the 82 cats diagnosed with urethral obstruction, 83% consumed only dry food. In the healthy control group, the story was different: just over half of the healthy cats ate dry food. That makes sense, since dry food is the most popular variety on the market.
What About Premium Dry Cat Food For Urinary Tract Health?
Dry cat food for urinary health has a very specific purpose. It features a special blend of minerals and regulates your cat’s urinary PH levels. These adjustments do work for treating certain types of urinary tract crystals. However, most cases of FLUTD are not crystal-based. Most are classified as idiopathic. In other words, most of the time, the exact cause of the disease is unknown. In most cases, this dry food is no better than the regular kind. It’s better to go for any high-moisture diet than to choose a prescription dry food.
Again, it all comes down to moisture content. No dry cat food, no matter how many veterinarians recommend it, has enough moisture to promote good urinary health.
Canned Cat Food for Urinary Health
Remember the Jerusalem study we talked about earlier? After concluding that 83% of the sick cats lived off of dry food, the remainder consumed a combination of dry and wet foods. And guess what? None of the cats suffering from urethral obstruction ate only wet food. Studies show that when cats switched to wet food after suffering from idiopathic urinary tract disease, recurrence rates were cut in half. Canned food has a lot of water in it. Moisture is the key to maintaining your cat’s urinary health.
Raw Cat Food for Urinary Health
Raw cat food is the closest thing to your cat’s biologically appropriate diet. On a raw diet, your cat will get the moisture they need while also benefitting from the balanced nutrition raw feeding provides. Overweight cats are at a higher risk for developing urinary tract disease. Raw food is exceptionally high in moisture and protein, both key factors in weight management.
So What is the Best Cat Food for Urinary Health?
The best cat food for urinary health is anything that’s not dry food, essentially. It generally doesn’t matter how expensive the food is or how many veterinarians approve of it. This rule includes dry food that claims to be good for urinary health. Dry food lacks the moisture content your cat needs to support a healthy urinary tract. As obligate carnivores, cats expect to get their hydration from their food, causing them to have low thirst drives. A dry diet leads to chronic dehydration and thus, poor urinary tract health. Cats who eat wet food have significantly lower rates of urinary obstruction and ex-dry food eaters who switch to wet food see 50% fewer recurrences of urinary tract disease.
If you’re worried that your cat may develop a UTI or other urinary tract disease, we recommend that you start feeding your cat canned or raw food today. Since we’re all about what’s natural, we’re fans of raw feeding, but ultimately, any high moisture-diet will do.