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Struvite Crystals

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I've been lurking on the forum for a while, but decided to start posting since my baby has a problem.

My kitten is only five months old, but has already had several urinary tract infections and courses of antibiotics. After the last time, the vet took a urine sample, which showed struvite crystals. Because I had been to this site, I was able to discuss the crystals with my vet, but I'm telling you, it was like talking to the wall. According to my vet, the crystals aren't really caused by the food my male is eating. Instead, she said the crystals were mostly 'genetic' in nature, and therefore, only a diet that raises urine acidity would help. I mentioned 'ash' and 'mag' levels, but she looked at me like I was speaking latin, and basically told me, no, those don't matter...only food that makes the urine more acidic (as if I didn't hear her the first time! ).

So I was wondering, how important are those mag and ash levels? Is that what makes the urine acidic? Or do they add something else for that?

Hill's c/d is what my baby is on right now, but according to what I've read on this site, its not a great product. Is it true that too much acidity will switch my kitty over to oxalate crystals, because the vet implied that c/d should be used for life?

I read somewhere (here, maybe?) that the crystals were caused by the pet food industry, which implies that table food would not be an issue. Is table scraps okay to suppliment the c/d? Or not? Would they alter the ph balance?

And would Royal Canin's s/o be an acceptable alternative to c/d? How about Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance? When I asked the vet for alternatives, she told me c/d was the only food she knew of--which made me wonder about her to tell you the truth. She seems very capable, but her intense focus on science diet makes me wonder if she isn't getting kick-backs for pushing the product.

As you can see, I'm feeling very frustrated right now. Please, any help or advice is much appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!
post #2 of 14
Hi,

Welcome. I'm not an expert. I have a cat that has been battling these urinary issues off and on for a little over a year, since he was about 1.5 yrs old. I understand your frustration. My cat is stable now (for almost 3 months yippee!!!)...knock on wood - there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Again, I'm not an expert...but I'll try to help. As I understand it, the pH of the urine is very important when it comes to struvite crystals. An acidifying diet will lower the pH to a "normal" level, hopefully avoiding the formation of the struvite crystals. From the reading I've done, the importance given to magnesium and ash levels at one time is fading as more research is done. I believe the quality of the food (among many other factors) is much more important than the mag/ash levels.

I can imagine that your vet may have blamed "genetics" because your kitty is very young to be having these issues. It doesn't change the fact that he needs to eat food that will keep his pH where it needs to be, though.

C/D isn't a favorite with some, because it has some questionable ingredients (by-products, etc). Personally, I'm still feeding it because my cat (Beandip) is stable and I don't want to rock the boat at the moment, as Beandip is a very sensitive dude and doesn't handle change very well. I also feed the C/D canned food, although I've begun to offer some other (quality) canned food. More canned food = more moisture intake, which is very important for urinary health too. I do avoid any food containing any fish, as it is believed to be a contributor for urinary issues. Even some of the Nutro canned turkey/chicken flavors have "cod" near the top of the ingredient list!

If you're not comfortable with your vet's attitude and/or her motives...then I would recommend a second opinion for sure.

I don't recommend any table food. Quality pet food is formulated to ensure your baby gets the vitamins/nutrients he needs. Getting Beandip stable took a lot of careful monitoring of his diet and his behavior (litterbox output, body language, attitude etc) ...so we cut out all treats for awhile.

There is some belief that the urine pH remains more stable when the cat is able to nibble throughout the day, rather than having big meals. Of course, that means more dry food...so it's a confusing notion...but a thought nonetheless. I give Beandip canned in the morning and the evening, and he nibbles a bit of the dry whenever he chooses to.

I think the belief on calcium oxalate crystals is that some cats are "predisposed" to forming this type of crystal, and *those cats* should not be fed an acidifying diet. I think this is more of a concern when you're feeding a crew of (seemingly healthy) kitties an acidifying diet in order to accommodate one cat that needs it. This is my situation, as I have 8 cats, but I believe it's a benefit vs. risk issue and hopefully my Beandip will be able to move on to a different food later on.

I'm not familiar with the other brands of food, as I'm not at that point yet. If you're going to stick with this vet, you may want to follow her recommendations... but do get a second opinion. All I mean is that it will take some cooperation between you and a vet (maybe not this one), in order to stabilize your baby.
post #3 of 14
Royal canin YES in the S/O

Natural balence I would say no , but I go by the % ages


OTC ask your vet about Purina one and Nutro Max


C/D is a good RX it does the job are there more options yes
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies everyone!

Sharky, what percentages are you going by? I read somewhere on this site that wet food mag should be .022% or less, and dry should be .80% or less. Are there any other ingredients I should be watching for?

And one more question, please, Sharky: Are those percentages a strict enough guideline that following them would alleviate the problem, or are they just guidelines that assist with the crystal reduction? I'm asking, because if I find a food that meets the percentage levels, would that also ensure that urine would be more acidic, or does it really not work that way?

Thanks again, I appreciate the feedback!!
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Beandip, thank for the information. I tried to start my baby on the c/d wet this morning. He refused to even taste it. The food was so 'fat', I can see why he wouldn't want to eat it. I know I should start by mixing it in with his normal food, but I was hoping he'd just eat it straight...no such luck though. Good news is, he seems to like the dry c/d, though he's never been a huge dry food eater.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernGem22 View Post
Beandip, thank for the information. I tried to start my baby on the c/d wet this morning. He refused to even taste it. The food was so 'fat', I can see why he wouldn't want to eat it. I know I should start by mixing it in with his normal food, but I was hoping he'd just eat it straight...no such luck though. Good news is, he seems to like the dry c/d, though he's never been a huge dry food eater.
I don't know which one you tried, but mine prefer the C/D chicken canned, it's got a minced texture. They don't care too much for the other, plain/pate textured stuff.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernGem22 View Post
Thanks for the replies everyone!

Sharky, what percentages are you going by? I read somewhere on this site that wet food mag should be .022% or less, and dry should be .80% or less. Are there any other ingredients I should be watching for?

And one more question, please, Sharky: Are those percentages a strict enough guideline that following them would alleviate the problem, or are they just guidelines that assist with the crystal reduction? I'm asking, because if I find a food that meets the percentage levels, would that also ensure that urine would be more acidic, or does it really not work that way?

Thanks again, I appreciate the feedback!!

.022 mag for wet ... .085 for dry

Corn acidifies ( now yes it is not digestable but my two natural vets learned form my ) ... corn gluten meal acidifies chicken ... now if it is lamb other grains acidify...

acidifing diets usually try for a ph of 6.5 but the range is 6.1-6.8

finding one that meets would be on thr right track to aiding in prevention .... finding one certified for UTI health gives peace of mind that testing proved it helps in prevention of UTI issues
post #8 of 14
Having scanned pet store brands certified for urinary tract health and/or ones with lower magnesium levels, there are only really only a handful of brands that meet these criteria. A lot of the quality brands of dry food such as Nutro MAX cat Roasted Chicken and Fromm's 3-4 star (to name a few) have Mg levels within the specified range that Sharky mentioned (<0.085%). Another key ingredient to look for is DL-methionine (an amino acid), which is in SOME dry foods and quite a few canned foods. You can also purchase urinary acidifying agents over the counter as a supplement, which contain DL-methionine or cranberry extracts.

The etiology (cause) of crystalluria is not well established at the present time but most of the scientific literature suggests that it's a combination of genetics, diet and stress. I suspect that particular cats are likely predisposed to struvite or calcium oxalate crystal formation, and that diet and stress play a role in bringing out that predisposition. That said, a couple vets that I've consulted with said that feeding our non-UTI cat RX food "should be ok," however, after speaking with a friend of mine who's a DVM, she mentioned that one of her professors is adamantly against the use of RX foods for struvite crystals due to increased probability of calcium oxalate crystal formation. So, putting an otherwise healthy cat on an acidifying diet may be a invitation for disaster.....there doesn't seem to be a consensus on this one!

With my UTI boy, I decided to go the RX route. With regular monitoring of urinary pH by urinalysis and close observation of litter box habits, hypothetically, there shouldn't be a problem with a cat using an RX diet for his entire life. Pico hated all types of Hill's food, so the decision to put him on Royal Canin Urinary SO dry and canned was easy. Although a lot of cat foods are certified for urinary health, I decided not to take a gamble with Pico.

Here is a pretty good website with a lot of reading material: http://www.catnutrition.org/

I also have a scientific paper that details the components of feline diets and why they're important for kitty. It's pretty heavy reading but anyone with an interest in feline nutrition should be able to understand the gist of it. If anyone wants a copy, drop me a private message with your email address and I'll pass it along.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Carm, that was a great site. Wonderful information. I had actually already began switching my baby over to a raw diet before the vet insisted on a prescription diet. My kitten had started the raw food as he was taking his last round of antibiotics. It's been 24 days since his last dose of antibiotics, and so far, there are no signs of a recurrance. He actually loves the raw, and except for occasionally nibbling at a few pieces of dry food, he refuses to eat anything else.

Personally, I would prefer canned food simply for the ease of use...just buy, open, and dump it in a dish. Now its buy, weigh/measure, mix, freeze, thaw, etc, etc. But as long as he stays free of recurrances, I think I'm not going to push the prescription stuff. Though I have decided to buy a few cans/bag of the Royal Canin s/o to try on him. I'd like to have a back up just in case I need it for a quick feeding.

But I do have another question...since the Royal Canin s/o is suppose to be more neutral (not forming struvite or oxalate crystals), then, by theory, shouldn't it be completely fine to give to my older cat who does not have any problem with crystals? It would just be easier if they were on the same food, that way I don't have to monitor either one of them!

Thanks again for all the help. Its been really informative!!!
post #10 of 14
My vet doesn't actually believe in prescription food for struvite crystals as a large percentage of cats have them naturally. I was given some c/d by a different vet for my foster though, and it did say that you could only give it for a maximum of 6 months, so I dont know if our UK formula is different to the US formula. I do know people who have have major urinary tract issues who have found a raw diet has helped considerably though - I maintained Tom with a mixture of purely wet food and Cystaid (helps the lining of the bladder).
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernGem22 View Post
Thanks, Carm, that was a great site. Wonderful information. I had actually already began switching my baby over to a raw diet before the vet insisted on a prescription diet. My kitten had started the raw food as he was taking his last round of antibiotics. It's been 24 days since his last dose of antibiotics, and so far, there are no signs of a recurrance. He actually loves the raw, and except for occasionally nibbling at a few pieces of dry food, he refuses to eat anything else.

Personally, I would prefer canned food simply for the ease of use...just buy, open, and dump it in a dish. Now its buy, weigh/measure, mix, freeze, thaw, etc, etc. But as long as he stays free of recurrances, I think I'm not going to push the prescription stuff. Though I have decided to buy a few cans/bag of the Royal Canin s/o to try on him. I'd like to have a back up just in case I need it for a quick feeding.

But I do have another question...since the Royal Canin s/o is suppose to be more neutral (not forming struvite or oxalate crystals), then, by theory, shouldn't it be completely fine to give to my older cat who does not have any problem with crystals? It would just be easier if they were on the same food, that way I don't have to monitor either one of them!

Thanks again for all the help. Its been really informative!!!
I've heard wonderful things about a raw diet and when done properly, I think it's a great form of nutrition for cats. I'm really envious that your kitty has such a delicious diet right now. If I had more time, I would definitely feed my boys a balanced raw diet.

Theoretically, it should be fine to feed your "normal" cat the Royal Canin Urinary S/O, and 2 different vets in town have attested to this. However, IMHO, there are any published long-term feeding studies with this food yet and unless a cat needs to be on it, I don't necessarily think it's a great idea. (Again, just my opinion) Our boys are on scheduled feedings with 2 different foods right now and it is a pain, but a small sacrifice to know that they're getting the right food. Our other cat is being fed Nutro MAX Cat Roasted Chicken dry food and 3 varieties of the canned food.
post #12 of 14
I feel like a robot, I have posted this message so many times, but I realize it is the first time for you.

I have good results with Carpon, developed by Dr. Belfield. I give two pills a day and we no longer have crystals, and it is completely safe and botanic.
I copied an earlier post as follows, if you search carpon you will find more posts on crystals since I replied to everyone of them.

http://www.belfield.com/article4.html

I have used it on Fang for a few months now. My vet recommended using dried cranberry sprinkled on the wet food, which I did for a while but he stopped eating it. Carpon is formulated from cranberries, I think, and it is easier to give than the powder, plus it is the right dosage etc.
post #13 of 14
Thanks for the reminder on Carpon by Dr. Belfield. I'll check out the article
regarding crystals. I give my "Niki" the Mega C Plus developed by Dr. Belfield as dietary supplement. I just found locally, Max Cat Gourmet Classics Senior
Dry food for cats. Does anyone know a good percentage on dry/wet foods
for Calcium? I've heard for uti's/crystals you should keep it low.

Trudy
post #14 of 14
Two of my male cats were saved by c/d in the 80s. Both had urinary issues due to diet which at that time cat owners were not warned about. The c/d diet eliminated any further problems.
Because your baby is so young, i think he may have an extra sensitive intestinal system.
You may need food that is from some sort of cat nutrition specialist. This may require some research, and trial and error.
I wish you luck. So sorry to hear about your little guy.
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