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Re: [FH] Cat diagnosed with HCM

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  • savionna@aol.com
    Hi Peter, ... I m sorry that Logan is having so many problems. I know you have a lot on your plate right now...but the Sci Di dry food is a direct contributing
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 25, 2009
      Hi Peter,

      In a message dated 2/23/09 12:16:49 PM, peter.warriner@... writes:

      > About 6 weeks ago, we had a rough weekend. To cut a long story short,
      > blocked urethra due to struvite crystals (diet of Hills Science Plan
      > Dry), got unblocked, had trouble clearing fluid from his lungs (had IV
      > drip), diuretics eventually cleared them but the emergency vet was
      > very concerned about his heart.
      I'm sorry that Logan is having so many problems. I know you have a lot on
      your plate right now...but the Sci Di dry food is a direct contributing factor to
      struvite crystals, which form in concentrated, alkaline urine. Urinary
      obstruction is serious all by itself...but on top of heart disease, more so.

      Dry food contributes to struvite (and other urinary issues...and other health
      issues) in a few ways. First and foremost is the lack of moisture. Dry food
      contains 10% moisture, whereas cats have evolved deriving 60-80% moisture in
      their food. It is very difficult for a cat to drink enough water to compensate
      not only for the lack of moisture but also from the dehdyrating action of the
      high carbohydrate load in dry food (and high carbohydrate in most dry food is
      another whole problem). The decreases urine volume and frequency, which is a
      contributing factor to crystal formation.

      From "Feline Nutrition" at Max's House at
      http://www.maxshouse.com/feline_nutrition.htm : "The cat has evolved to obtain her water requirements almost
      entirely on the moisture content in her food - inherited from her desert-dwelling
      ancestors. Cats can live for long periods without drinking water when
      receiving food containing 67-73% water but become dehydrated when the water content of
      the food is 63% or less....Feeding a canned diet containing 78% moisture
      virtually guarantees homeostatic control of water balance in the cat....Cats
      increase voluntary water intake when fed dry food but not in sufficient amounts to
      fully compensate for the lower moisture content of the food....Decreased urine
      volume may be an important risk factor for the development of urolithiasis in
      cats. Diets that cause a decrease in total fluid turnover can result in
      decreased urine volume and increased urine concentration, both of which may
      contribute to urinary tract disease in cats. Several studies have shown that dry cat
      foods contribute to decreased fluid intake and urine volume....In addition to
      ensuring adequate hydration, a high water turnover helps eliminate
      crystallogenic substances before they grow to sufficient size to interfere with normal
      urinary function. This is a very important consideration for male cats. Cats
      that cannot urinate for more than 24 hours due to urinary tract obstruction can
      die from acute renal failure and/or severe damage to the urinary bladder. In
      addition to the removal of crystals, benefits of increased water intake include
      dilution of any noxious substances in urine, and more frequent urination to
      decrease bladder contact time with urine that may reduce the risks of urinary
      tract disease." 

      Another issue is the high plant content of dry food, which tends to increase
      urine pH. A diet rich in certain amino acids from animal proteins by and large
      promotes a "normal" urinary pH for cats at 6.0-6.5. This slightly acidic pH
      reduces risk of struvite formation.

      An additional side issue is the "allergenic" nature of some of the
      ingredients in dry cat food, incl grains and byproducts. This can contribute to
      inflammation of the urinary tract (and other parts), which is already likely inflamed
      from the crystals and which is another risk for obstruction. Also, the high
      carbohydrate load of dry food provides ready food for bacteria, which can
      colonize the urinary tract with infection and also contribute to inflammation and

      > Can we do anything more to improve things?
      Yes. To reduce risk of struvite and other urinary issues...as well as to
      provide needed nutrients in a species-appropriate form that will benefit Logan's
      entire body, incl his heart...you can transition him from a diet of dry food to
      a high-quality, well-balanced, moisture-rich (60-80% water), low-carbohydrate
      (less than 5% of calories), meat-based diet with high amts of animal proteins
      and fats and limited to no plant carbohydrate. This is the type of diet that
      cats have thrived on for millions of yrs and, not surprisingly, that has shown
      to reduce risk of struvite by promoting a normal urine pH of about 6.0-6.5
      and normal urine volume and frequency. Another important issue is feeding small
      amts thru the day (as opposed to 2 large meals), which not only is in synch
      with a small cat's natural feed behavior and metabolism but also promotes a more
      even urinary pH.

      A few snippets on this:

      1. From "Evaluation of effects of dietary carbohydrate on formation of
      struvite crystals in urine and macromineral balance in clinically normal cats" by
      Funaba et al in "American Journal of Veterinary Research" (2004):

      "Starch and fiber in diets potentially stimulate formation of struvite
      crystals. Hence, reducing dietary carbohydrate is desirable to prevent struvite
      urolith formation."

      2. From "Feline Reference Values for Urine Composition" by Cottam et al in
      "Journal of Nutrition" (June 2002):

      "Domestic cats can suffer from a number of urinary tract diseases in which
      the diet is implicated as a major causal factor. An example of this is
      urolithiasis, a common condition in which uroliths (crystals or stones) of various
      types form in the urinary tract. It has been shown that the potential for struvite
      (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) crystal formation is reduced if urine pH is <6.6....Cook
      stated that a carnivorous diet, is known to produce acidic urine....Currently, it
      is recommended to maintain urine pH of adult cats between 6.0 and 6.4 to
      minimize the risk of struvite urolithiasis."

      3. From "Urinary Tract Disorders in Cats" by Jean Hofve DVM at 

      "In one study, 60% of cats on a single dry food were symptom-free for a year,
      compared to 90% of cats eating one canned food. Homemade, organic, natural
      diets are always on the top of the "good" list for treating this and other
      chronic disease conditions, but only if they can be fed consistently. Diet changes
      must always be made gradually to minimize stress on the cat....Dry cat foods,
      particularly high-fiber "light", "hairball" or "senior" foods, contribute to
      overall dehydration and high urine concentration. Cats with LUTD should not be
      fed any dry food at all if possible. Canned or homemade foods help keep the
      urine dilute, minimizing irritation and the risk of crystal or stone formation."

      4. From "The Effect of Diet on Lower Urinary Tract Diseases in Cats" by
      Markwell et al in The Journal of Nutrition (Dec 1998):

      "Epidemiologic studies of signs of lower urinary tract disease conducted in
      the 1970s implicated dry cat foods as a risk factor (Reif et al. 1977, Walker
      et al. 1977, Willeberg 1984); more recently, consumption of dry foods has been
      implicated as a risk factor specifically for idiopathic lower urinary tract
      disease (Buffington et al. 1997). Multiple diet-related factors may be involved
      with this increased risk, but included within these is the tendency for cats
      to produce smaller volumes of more concentrated urine when fed dry foods
      (Burger et al. 1980, Gaskell 1985)."

      5. From Max's House at http://maxshouse.com/feline_nutrition.htm:

      "The domestic cat is a carnivorous mammal. Compared with an omnivorous or
      herbivorous diet, a carnivorous diet has the effect of increasing net acid
      excretion and decreasing urine pH naturally. This urine-acidifying effect is
      primarily a result of the high level of sulfur-containing amino acids found in meats.
      Oxidation of these amino acids results in the excretion of sulfate in the
      urine and a concomitant natural decrease in urine pH.  In addition, a diet that
      contains a high proportion of meat is lower in potassium salts than a diet
      containing high levels of cereal grains, which have been shown to produce an
      alkaline urine when metabolized. Therefore the inclusion of high levels of cereal
      grains commonly found in high-carbohydrate (>35%) dry cat foods has been shown
      to be a contributing factor in the development of struvite urolithiasis by
      producing an alkaline urine."

      6. From "Feeding and Vaccinating Your Cat" by Michael L. Katz DVM, PhD at

      "Since cats are carnivores it is easy for them to have a rather acidic urine.
      This is due to the products of metabolism of the excess amino acids which are
      derived from high amounts of ingested protein. These products are excreted in
      the urine and, therefore, acidify the urine. The struvite crystal in the
      urine, because it is acidified, is then smaller in size and is, therefore, less
      irritating to the urethra. With the above in mind, it is absolutely necessary
      that cats not be fed dry or semi-moist food. The 70% water content of canned
      food will cause cats to urinate more, making it much less likely that the sandy
      substance will be in high enough concentration to cause urethral irritation or

      I'm assuming you're in the UK, so the choice of higher-quality,
      species-appropriate (esp grainfree), balanced (that is, not for supplemental feeding)
      canned cat foods is a bit diff. than what is available in the US (that I'm more
      familiar with). But some choices to look for incl Nature's Menu 70% meat, Almo
      Nature, and Hi-Life 60% meat. I also have some (limited) information on fresh
      food and typical prey suppliers in the UK, if you want to move in that

      Another important issue is to monitor the cat's urine pH at home with pH
      paper or urine dipsticks. If Logan cannot maintain normal pH from eating a
      species-appropriate, meat-based diet, then it is possible to acidify the urine with
      something like L-methionine (an amino acid) or ammonium chloride. But b/c
      constant and excessive urine acidification has risks (eg affecting nutrient
      absorption, calcium oxalate crystal formation), it is essential to use a
      wide-spectrum (about 5-8 pH), small-increment pH paper to see whether the pH is staying in
      the desired range.

      Also, it's often a good idea to augment water intake...and that can be done
      by adding some water to canned or fresh food meals (but not dry, which could
      increase risk of bacterial bloom) and providing a fountain (cats may be
      attracted to running water).

      As Dr Hofve mentioned above, it's important to transition the diet slowly, at
      the cat's pace of acceptance, not only to minimize stress (which plays a role
      in urinary disorders) but also to reduce risk that the cat will refuse the
      food (cats must eat...and I'll leave it at that) or have dig. upset from change
      of ingredients. This can be done by adding a very small amt of the new food in
      with the old, so that the cat becomes accustomed to the new smell (cats eat
      with their nose), and then very slowly increasing, making sure the cat is
      consuming sufficient calories each day (about 20-30 calories per lb ideal body
      weight per day or 45-65 cal/kg/day). // Rosemary


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