Photo: belchonock | Getty Images

These Cat Foods Can Help Treat Urinary Issues


Welcome to a scary, often puzzling feline “u-niverse.” That “u” includes urinary stones and urinary tract infections. Far too many cats experience a variety of urinary issues that can be painful and, in some instances, life-threatening. Fortunately, effective weapons to tame or combat a host of urinary issues can be found in your cat’s food bowl.

Issues impacting your cat’s urethra or bladder can be among many conditions that fall under an umbrella term known as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). In addition to bacterial or viral infections, they include formation of stones in the bladder or urethra or urinary blockages, more common in male cats than females because the male urethra is longer and narrower. The urethra is that channel that ushers urine out of the bladder.

Related: 8 Things You Should Know About Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

But the cause of a urinary issue may never be identified, so your veterinarian will use the term feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC). Idiopathic means unknown cause, as this disease is not fully understood and may affect body systems beyond the urinary system.

Cat urinary issue warning signs

Plumbing problems in cats can quickly surface or develop over time. Consult your veterinarian promptly if your cat displays any of these warning signs:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating more frequently than normal
  • Crying out in pain when urinating
  • Evidence of blood in the urine
  • Excessively licking the genital area
  • Dribbling urine
  • Bypassing the litter box to urinate elsewhere
  • Urine gives off a strong ammonia odor

Diets prescribed by a vet

Expect your veterinarian to recommend switching your cat to a therapeutic diet for urinary issues. Some of the popular therapeutic diets for urinary care include products by Blue Buffalo, Royal Canin, Hill’s Prescription Diet and Purina Pro Plan. Dry and canned food options are available.

Each brand offers details on the benefits of their diets and toll-free customer service phone numbers. Depending on the brand, these therapeutic foods are grain-free, low in magnesium content, contain specific minerals to support urinary health, are formulated to promote healthy urine volume and acidity and are enriched with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Stick with the therapeutic diet prescribed by your veterinarian. Giving food scraps or cat treats may cancel out the health benefits from ingredients in the special diet food.

Diets from your local store

Commercial diets are also available that contain ingredients designed to maintain a healthy urinary system in cats. Many are high in proteins and low in carbohydrates. The Wysong Uretic Dry Cat Food contains high levels of fresh and frozen meats as well as omega-3s, probiotics and methionine to help keep a cat’s urinary tract healthy.

Dr. Marty Goldstein, a holistic veterinarian and acupuncturist based in South Salem, New York, launched his food brand after his beloved cat Zots died from a urinary blockage. “When this happened with Zots, two and two just came together on what could contribute to this congestive debris that forms in the urinary tract related to improper or not biologically appropriate diet,” he says. “Cats deserve biologically appropriate diets that support metabolic and immunologic function.”

Dr. Marty’s Premium Freeze-Dried Cat Food is a freeze-dried, raw, nutritionally dense formula made with turkey, ranch-raised beef, duck and salmon plus sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, blueberries and cranberries. Dr. Goldstein says, “A predominately whole meat should be the first and primary ingredient and if this is some form of raw, even better.”

More water and less stress

These two tactics reduce your cat’s risk for urinary issues: hydration and less stress. Dr. Tony Buffington, emeritus professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center says, “Put the water bowl in a safe place so the cat will not feel frightened when he needs to drink. Don’t place the cat’s food or water bowls, for example, next to the dishwasher. If it comes on suddenly while the cat is eating or drinking, the sound can be threatening and cause stress.”

Increase your cat’s water intake by adding flavor to his water bowl, such as tuna or clam juice or sodium-free chicken or beef broth. Or try a cat water fountain placed in his favorite hangout areas in the house.

Make mealtime inviting and safe. “Stress does play a huge role in the incidents of urinary problems in cats,” Dr. Goldstein says. Stress can occur in the form of food resource guarding or dogs in the family preventing cats from accessing the water bowl.

“Avoid having multiple cats in the home eating from one large dish,” Dr. Buffington adds. “Keep the environment safe for all by feeding the cats in separate bowls spaced out. Consider a water bowl on a sturdy elevated surface out of reach of the dogs. Finally, consider serving a meal in a food puzzle to activate your cat’s inner hunter.”

Top photograph: belchonock | Getty Images

Read Next: How to Feed Cats: Are We Doing It Wrong?

13 thoughts on “These Cat Foods Can Help Treat Urinary Issues”

  1. Darwin’s natural pet products raw food helped my bladder stones probe kitty. It can be tough to switch older cats, but no junk or fillers. I also use Hare today raw for my cats. I would never ever feed Roayal canon or Hills to any pet. Nothing in it even resembles food.

  2. I have 3 kitties and one cannot have anything dry or canned with any kind of chicken in it at all. I have another with high kidney levels and once noticed a bit of blood in her urine and the only way I knew is because she used a kitty bed and a white towel (and never before has gone outside the litterbox) and has not since. My cats are 15, 13 and 9. I used to feed raw but had too many problems with consistency in quality, and tried making my own, but the owner decided she wouldn’t allow it and I rent a room in her house.
    I am feeding Nulo beef and lamb Pate and also recently am switching between Soulistic Tuna and Salmon Formula (both grain and Carrigan free). It that a good choice? The Nulo is way expensive and I am on disability, the Soulistic is significantly cheaper but worried about too much tuna? Any suggestions??? Much appreciated…Melanie

  3. The ingredients in Royal Canin have hardly anything to do with food , and I personally will never use it for my pets .
    I had wonderful results using N&D uretic or Wysong , made with natural ingredients.

  4. I have been using this food as soon as my guy coughed up his firs hairball “Hill’s® Science Diet® Urinary Hairball Control Adult Cat Food – Chicken”. I buy the 15.5 lb bag and put it in a plastic pail from Home Depot it will last me for at least 6 months. I dole it out to him whenever his bowl is empty and not before in 1/2 cup increments. They used to sell the lite formula but discontinues selling it at the local PetSmart so now he get regular.

  5. Our furbaby, Phoebe, has CKD and we take vet advice – Hills Prescription Diet. She was on Early Stage, but that option no longer seems available. We generally get the dry as she was vomiting more regularly with the wet food. Always take the advice of your vet.

  6. Hi
    We just found out that our 2 yr old kitty has 2 stones and the vet said put him right on hill’s c/d cat food.
    We have been feeding him Natural Balance limited ingredients salmon/peas and giving him freeze dried one ingredient treats only.
    The vet said take him off that food and no freeze dried treats.
    Any other treat I read are full of junk.
    We even bought raw turkey liver, beef etc and froze it knowing that these are the foods cats need.
    Never got around to using the frozen foods because we found the freeze dried foods easier to keep with us having a very limited space in our Rv refrigerator.
    I read the ingredients in Royal Canin and Hill’s and wasn’t sure of all the junk in them as well.
    Not sure which route to go to protect our wonderful sweet kitty.

  7. Pingback: What Can I Give My Cat For Urinary Problems? – Kotikmeow

  8. I agree, ingredients in Royal Canin food is rubbish.I purchased it once and none of my four cats would eat it.
    Dry food is not recommended for urinary problems

    1. Betty, what do you buy for your pet? Per my breeder, I am using Royal Canin and would definitely switch for a high grade food.

      1. I have been using this food as soon as my guy coughed up his first hairball “Hill’s® Science Diet® Urinary Hairball Control Adult Cat Food – Chicken”. I buy the 15.5 lb bag and put it in a plastic pail from Home Depot it will last me for at least 6 months. I dole it out to him whenever his bowl is empty and not before in 1/2 cup increments. They used to sell the lite formula but discontinues selling it at the local PetSmart so now he get regular.

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