Is Diet Linked to Feline Urinary Obstruction?
Over the weekend I had a scare with my 3-year-old cat Tommy. He was weak and not eating. He was sitting in the litter box, urinating blood. I rushed him to the only hospital that was open and the vet informed me that he had a bladder obstruction and his kidneys were in the initial stages of failure.
Is is true that this happened as a result of the Meow Mix Indoor dry food I was giving him? She stated it was common in cats, and he now is on a special diet until further notice.
The great news is Tommy is back to himself and I have changed my cats' food to a high-quality type the vet recommends.
Urinary obstruction is a deadly problem. It occurs in males, generally as a complication of feline idiopathic cystitis (also known as FIC, FLUTD, and FUS). FIC in turn is correlated with a high urinary pH and crystals in the urine.
Conventional wisdom holds that the syndrome is linked to a bodily chemical imbalance that leads to the aberrant urine chemistry mentioned above. According to this, diet doesn't cause the problem per se (not every male cat on Meow Mix develops urinary obstruction), but some diets can trigger it in susceptible individuals. Therefore, dietary modification is a cornerstone of most vets' treatment and prevention recommendations.
However, some academics are beginning to question the role played by diet and urine chemistry. They point to the fact that urinary obstruction also appears to be linked to stress, and they suspect that stress-related spasming of the urethra may be a significant contributor to urinary obstruction. These experts recommend stress reduction as a primary tactic.
My experience is that stress and diet can predispose susceptible individuals to urinary obstruction (as, by the way, does obesity). I have seen many cats suffer from it immediately after stressful events such as moving or adding a cat to the household. I also have seen countless cats suffer from it within days of a diet change. I therefore recommend both stress reduction and dietary modification for cats at risk of urinary obstruction.
Whatever the cause of the syndrome, one thing is not controversial: It is urgently life-threatening. Any male cat that exhibits unusual behavior in the litter box should be seen by a vet immediately.