Looking for the best urinary tract cat food? We recommend Hills Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Stress Chicken and Stew Canned Cat Food.
Urinary tract issues are quite common in cats and there are a whole host of foods on the market that purport to aid and relieve these issues. In this piece, we will look at why your cat might need this type of food, how to spot whether your cat has a urinary tract problem, what you can do to reduce the chances of your cat getting urinary tract issues and guide you on how to minimize and relieve problems if they do have issues. For cats with such problems, we will then take you through the best urinary tract cat food choices on the market and identify those that might help your cat lead a better quality of life.
Top Pick Best Urinary Tract Cat Food
- Best Urinary Tract Cat Food Non-Prescription: Purina Pro Plan Focus Urinary Tract Health Adult Wet Food
- Best Dry Urinary Tract Cat Food: Iams Proactive Health Urinary Tract Health Dry Cat Food With Chicken
- Best Canned Urinary Tract Cat Food: Hills Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Stress Chicken and Stew Canned Cat Food.
- Hills Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Wet Cat Food – Chicken
- Purina One Urinary Tract Health Adult Formula Dry Cat Food
Why Might My Cat Need Urinary Tract Cat Food?
Cats are particularly prone to urinary tract issues. These issues tend to be related to the upper or lower urinary tract. Upper urinary tract issues are usually brought on by kidney issues related to older age and diabetes issues. Lower urinary tract issues are usually related to a different set of problems. Often, foods marketed as urinary tract products are developed to address issues surrounding lower urinary tract issues. Kidney and diabetes-related diets are often specialized diets in their own right.
Lower urinary tract issues that might result in your cat having to use urinary tract foods include :
FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) – FLUTD is a name given to a whole suite of issues including bladder infections, bladder stones, inflammation of the bladder (known as cystitis where there is no obvious cause), and some cancers. Causes of FLUTD can include bacterial infections and/or simple, everyday stress.
Urethral obstruction – Urethral obstruction predominantly affects male cats and can occur at any age. In male cats, the urethral passage is particularly narrow and urine crystals (struvite) and bladder stones can lodge in the urethra blocking it and making urination difficult and in some cases impossible. From time to time this can prove fatal if overfull bladders are not attended to…
How to spot if my cat has a UT problem
There is little point feeding your cat a urinary cat food unless it has a problem or has a history of issues related to urinary tract issues. Spotting that your cat has a problem may in some cases negate the need for surgery or may allow you and your vet to get a handle on the problem before it develops into more deep-seated issues. Cats are really good at hiding problems, mainly as a throwback to avoiding predation, but also because they don’t have the facial muscles to wince and grimace. These are some of the telltale signs to look out for that may indicate your cat has a problem. If they exhibit multiple symptoms that should be good enough to confirm suspicions :
Your cat is peeing outside the litter box
Your cat might be toileting outside of the litter box for any number of reasons – if elderly, they may have arthritis that prevents them from entering the box, they may have kidney disease or diabetes which makes it difficult for them to make the box in time. The box may require refreshing or cleaning and the lack of cleanliness is putting them off or the box may be positioned badly leaving them feeling vulnerable. Or, like my old cat, peeing in the sink/bath might be an attempt to grab your attention – especially if the next clue on this list comes into play. If your cat is peeing outside their litter box you should become suspicious.
Blood in pee or cloudy urine
If your cat is peeing and leaving traces of blood or cloudy urine then the chances are that they have a problem and need to see a vet. You might wonder how you are going to be able to check for this, given that these issues won’t show up in cat litter? You would be right, however, our furry friends will often pee outside the litter box to demonstrate the issue when they have a problem. If it is cloudy or bloody, then peeing outside the litter box is not bad manners it is a form of communication – usually, they do something clever like try to pee in a shower or bath for hygiene purposes. Either way blood or cloudy urine should add to your suspicions and confirm to you that there is an issue.
if your cat is in the litter box more regularly than usual then they may be suffering from a urinary tract infection or discomfort. Both male and female cats may urinate with increased frequency if there is a problem. The volume of pee per visit will often be smaller than usual. Keep an eye out for any unusual change in frequency.
Loss of control or dribbling
If your cat is suffering from a loss of control or persistent dribbling of pee then the chances are they have a problem and are going to need to see a vet. Chances are they have picked up an infection that needs some treatment or they have more fundamental ongoing problems such as nerve damage or structural damage, potentially from a fall or some such. General loss of bladder sphincter control or dribbling is a clear sign that something isn’t right.
Constant grooming of urinary opening
A sure sign of discomfort that needs investigation. Grooming in these areas is usually about pain relief. You might think your cat grooms all the time. Don’t be fooled, if they are regularly grooming in this area they are suffering discomfort.
If you notice a bit of a whiff around the place and can pin it down to being the cat in general then this can be another tell-tale sign of a UTI. Specifically, they may be dribbling urine and unable to groom well enough to remove the odor. In conjunction with other symptoms, this is a red light.
Increased water consumption
An increase in drinking by your cat may sometimes be associated with a UTI. It can also be associated with kidney disease, hypothyroidism, liver issues and diabetes so it is always worth having checked out just to be on the safe side. Make a note and inform your vet if you attend and have to describe the problem.
If your cat seems to have a harder abdomen than usual and is suffering from other symptoms it may be that their bladder is full and unable to evacuate, potentially due to stones or crystals. This can be a dangerous situation as cat bladders have been known to burst unless they can be relieved.
Inability to pass urine despite great effort
Perhaps the most obvious group of signs is that your cat is just struggling to pass urine. Perhaps they sit in the tray longer than usual, maybe they cry out in pain as they attempt to urinate, perhaps they appear to strain without result. These are clear signs of a problem that needs investigating. If you have noticed other symptoms in conjunction with an inability to pass urine then it is time for a check-up.
If any of these symptoms occur, the first thing to do is consult a vet to rule out as many potential causes as possible. Depending on the severity of the symptoms the vet may decide to monitor the situation or may need to carry out a physical exam, carry out blood tests and carry out an x-ray to identify what the cause is and the most likely course of treatment.
A vet will treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, whilst stones and crystals blocking urethra may require surgery. Many cases, if caught early enough may just require small changes to diet and lifestyle and require monitoring.
Often cases can resolve of their own accord. Following an initial urinary tract issue, up to 80% of cats do not suffer from a recurrence if some basic preventative measures are put in place.
Can I Reduce The Chance Of Urinary Tract Issues?
You can take some action to prevent your cat from getting UTI and thus avoid vet bills, small wet accidents, and potentially expensive diets. Additionally, taking these precautions can reduce the chance of recurrence if your cat has been unfortunate enough to suffer from a UTI problem:
Regularly clean litter boxes
Pretty straight forward but often overlooked. Wash litter trays and boxes with soapy water or disinfect regularly. You want to eliminate the possibility of bacterial infection that can cause UTI. Ideally, every time you change out your litter you should disinfect. For those who use clumping litter, it can be easy to go for longer periods without cleaning out litter trays but this is the battleground against infection!
Get your cats weight under control
Overweight cats and inactive indoor cats tend to get UTI more often. In overweight cats, the UTI tends to manifest as cystitis or struvite crystals. Try to keep your cat well exercised with regular play if they are an indoor cat and watch their weight. They can often hide weight quite well until they suddenly seem to grow huge overnight! Weekly weigh-ins can help you spot a trend of weight gain forming early. If your cat is overweight, get them on some cat food for weight loss as soon as possible.
Encourage Better Hydration
Hydration is critical in the avoidance of many UTI’s. It is thought that struvite (crystals) form because urine is too concentrated (alkaline) in a lot of instances. You can encourage less concentrated urine by getting your cat to drink more. This is often easier said than done – consider getting a cat water fountain, relocating water bowls, etc
If your cat is on dry food then change to wet food to ensure they are getting enough moisture. Cats don’t feel thirsty in the same way as other animals. Getting them to drink can be hard but absorbing moisture through food is potentially a much easier way to get and keep your cat hydrated.
We are not suggesting you put your cat on a prescription diet but just think about feeding your cat food that is beneficial for urinary issues, particularly if your cat is in a high-risk group. If your cat is overweight, indoors, male, or neutered or especially if they fill all or a number of criteria then a non-prescription urinary health wet cat food might be a good choice for avoiding costly problems in the longer term. Often these foods aim to reduce the pH of urine that is associated with the formation of crystals that can lead to problems over time.
Stress is known to contribute to the formation of UTI’s. Reducing stress is key to maintaining a healthy kitty. You can reduce stress in loads of different ways. You can exercise your cat through play to reduce stress, ensure adequate food and water per cat in multi-cat households, provide safe quiet places for the cat if you have a busy household plus – you get the idea…
What Is The Best Cat Food For Cats With Urinary Tract Issues
Usually, the best cat food for urinary tract health issues tends to be the prescription diets that are specially formulated to help cats who are prone to developing crystals in their bladder as a result of concentrated and high alkalinity urine. However, not all problems are equal or as severe. Some cat’s urinary issues can be easier to treat than others and this may well be where the “off the shelf” urinary health foods can play a part.
Many owners find their cats do well without prescription foods as maybe their symptoms or issues are not as tough to treat as severe cases. With that in mind, we take you through various prescription and non-prescription options as your cat might benefit from the less expensive non-prescritption foods or in severe cases may need the strongest option available.
Best Urinary Tract Cat Food Non-Prescription: Purina Pro Plan Focus Urinary Tract Health Adult Wet Food
This canned cat food for urinary health from Purina comes in a handy 3oz tin (75Kcals). Available in chicken flavor, it offers balanced nutrition to suit your cat’s unique health requirements. The food is low in magnesium to reduce alkalinity and has a special formula included which reduces the pH of your cat’s urine. The aim of this is to reduce crystal (struvite) formation. These crystals are believed to form more commonly in cats with more alkaline urine. The wet food is helpful for cats with UTI as good levels of hydration promote less concentrated urine.
Lots of owners are positive about this food – you can read comments along the lines that their cats like the flavor and never get picky with food, that the food seems to really help with UTI issues and that Purina Pro Plan Focus is often good value compared to prescription diets. However, a number of owners confirm that if your cat has serious UTI problems this non-prescription food might not work for your cat.
- Wet cat food – good for diluting the urine.
- A formula that reduces urine pH to prevent crystals.
- Low magnesium content to reduce alkalinity…
- Good for cats with mild UTI or occasional issues
- Cats like the flavor
- Reasonable value compared to other cat foods.
- Can’t replace prescription food for cats with major issues.
Best Dry Urinary Tract Cat Food: Iams Proactive Health Urinary Tract Health Dry Cat Food With Chicken
This is non-prescription dry cat food for urinary health. As with the Purina canned food, this food attempts to benefit urinary health by reducing the alkalinity of urine so fewer crystals form in the urine. Unlike the wet food, this food has little moisture so a critical part of getting this food to work is ensuring your cat drinks well and often.
Iams confirm this food is made without fillers and is suitable for indoor and outdoor cats. Being a dry kibble food, monitoring your cat’s calories should be straightforward(387Kcal/cup) – which should mean that keeping weight in check is easy. Being overweight can contribute to the chance of getting UTI’s.
The food contains vitamin E which Iams suggests is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system – something which might help avoid bacterial infections that can cause UTI.
It is not all good though, some owners suggest that in more severe cases of UTI this food can’t really replace prescription foods – although many owners whose cats suffer from mild and moderate cases report that the food is effective at reducing issues.
- Non-prescription dry cat food for urinary health.
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor cats
- Reduces urine ph to avoid crystal formation.
- No fillers
- Easy to monitor portion size for weight control
- Seems to work for cats with sensitive stomach as well
- Few cats turn their noses up at it – flavor good
- Many people switch from expensive prescription brands and do ok
- Not a replacement for prescription food. Mild cases only or infrequent cases.
Best Canned Urinary Tract Cat Food: Hills Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Stress Chicken and Stew Canned Cat Food.
This is prescription cat food for cats with serious UTI issues. Hills do not beat about the bush with this stuff. They claim that it is clinically tested nutrition that is shown to reduce the recurrence of UTI in 89% of cats! They explain that this food is specially formulated to dissolve crystals and prevent recurrence in as little as seven days (average 27 days). The food is formulated to meet your cat’s dietary needs whilst reducing the alkalinity of the urine, reduce minerals associated with UTI’s (magnesium, calcium) but provide beneficial antioxidants and fatty acids.
Many owners confirm the diet is effective and that their cats take to the diet well – the only concern is the premium price associated with a prescription diet.
- A wet diet good for hydration.
- Works well, effective
- Tastes good
- For cats with serious UTI – very successful at reducing issues
- More expensive than non-prescription foods
- Needs a prescription
- Limited can size
- Limited flavor options
Hills Science Diet Adult Urinary Hairball Control Wet Cat Food – Chicken
This is Hills non-prescription wet cat food for urinary health. They don’t make the same claims they make with their prescription urinary health cat food but then this option is cheaper.
Many owners claim their cats love the flavor and that it does seem to work in reducing UTI issues. Hills suggest that the formula with this food is a carefully balanced nutrient profile that minimizes magnesium and other minerals responsible for urine pH.
What is not so good is that a number of cat owners suggest that their cats, who have sensitive stomachs, find their stomachs irritated by this food. So if your cat is sensitive this food might not be a wise choice!
- Canned wet cat food – good for hydration
- Made in the USA
- Cats love the flavor
- Cheaper than prescription
- Seems to work well even with cats recommended prescription stuff
- Not so good for cats with a sensitive stomach
- Easy to confuse labeling with prescription options
- Strong odor
Purina One Urinary Tract Health Adult Formula Dry Cat Food
This is the dry version of the Purina one canned wet food discussed earlier. As with the wet version, this food looks to reduce urine pH and minimize the magnesium and calcium levels that might aid the formulation of crystals in cat urine.
This is a non-prescription food that has a non-prescription price. Owners feel it works well to reduce urinary issues but it can be a bit of a lottery to get their cats eating the stuff. Many cats turn their noses up at it and simply won’t eat it, so if you are considering trying this food start with a small bag!
- Low price
- Reduces urine ph and reduces magnesium intake.
- Owners feel it works well – few reoccurrences
- Hit and miss on flavor – some cats like it others not so, a bit of a lottery – start with a small bag
In severe cases, we think the best option for quick relief is to use canned urinary wet food prescribed by a vet. In this case, the Hills c/d prescription diet would be our choice.
If your cat doesn’t have such a severe case we would still recommend a wet food over dry food to ensure good hydration, but we would probably opt for the Purina option as this seems to work well and cats like the flavor.