You want the best for your cat's health and it's frustrating to be told that there's nothing you can do to prevent struvite crystals in your cat other than to feed them the prescription cat food. My cat, Furball, had a blocked bladder at 2 years of age, but when I put him on the prescription food to control his crystals, I noticed his coat became dull. His vet didn't have any other advice, so I took him to see a holistic vet.
She gave some advice that prevented him from having a repeat incident of FLUTD for almost 5 years even though I had stopped feeding him the prescription diet. At the second occurrence, I sought additional advice from another holistic vet. Furball has not had another occurrence in over a year. This article represents the summation of the advice I received and I point out the contradictions that I encountered. While it was helpful for my cat, you should not diagnosis and treat your cat yourself. These tips should be talking points for you to take to your vet to discuss the circumstances for your cat.
Ensure your cat is a healthy weight. I was stunned when 5 years after his initial diagnosis, a vet technician told me that being overweight increased Furball's chances of getting a recurrent blocked bladder. Why hadn't any vet told me this before? I put him on a diet immediately after I consulted with his new vet about an ideal weight.
Give your cat lots of water. This advice was given to me by Furball's first holistic vet. She said that increasing his water intake kept things flowing through his system to help reduce the concentration of struvite crystals in his urine. I added water to Furball's food as he wouldn't drink it normally. A caveat to this advice is that Furballs second holistic vet said that cats should get their moisture from their food as opposed to drinking water, otherwise it would cause a strain on their kidneys. Talk to your vet about what's best for your cat.
Feed your cat wet food instead of dry. This advice was from the second holistic vet and contradicts the advice from most vets to feed your cat a prescription cat food, since those foods are usually dry. She explained that the prescription diets usually add ammonium chloride to the food to increase the acidity (decrease the pH level) of the cat's urine, which helps to control struvite crystals. I found a study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2003 that concluded, "Our results indicate that compared with dietary supplementation with NH4Cl, the high-protein diet is preferable as a urine acidifier for the prevention of struvite crystal formation in clinically normal cats."
Feed your cat a low grain, high protein diet. The second holistic vet went on to further explain that a high protein diet would also increase the acidity (decrease the pH level) of the cat's urine. This contradicts some common advice out there which suggests that high protein diets (especially fish) will increase the level of magnesium in the cat's urine, thus increasing their risk for struvite crystals. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has an article which states, "Previously, the ash content-and more recently, the magnesium content-of the diet was thought to be a primary cause of struvite formation in the urine. However, researchers have found that urine pH is a more important contributing factor".
Feed your cat several smaller meals a day as opposed to one or two large meals. Cats fed this way tend to produce a more acidic urine.
Minimize stress in your cat's life. Stress affects cat health just like it does human health. Furball's second bladder problem occurred within days after a major earthquake shook him up. If there's a stressful event, be sure to give your cat extra attention and reassurance for several days.
You should not diagnose and treat your cat yourself. If your cat is experiencing any discomfort or signs of FLUTD or if you suspect they have crystals, take your cat to your vet immediately. Talk to your vet about this article to see if the points are appropriate for your cat.