The cause of struvite crystals in cats is most often the result of eating dry cat food. Due to the lack of moisture in the diet, the urine becomes too concentrated and highly alkaline. A balanced raw meat diet should help to resolve the problem and help eliminate the occurence of struvite crystals in the urine.
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- Struvite crystals are also referred to as triple phosphate (magnesium ammonium phosphate), and when several crystals join together to form stones, they can become life-threatening to the cat. These stones can range in shape and size, and when they block the urinary tract, they can quickly lead to kidney failure. Immediate veterinary care is essential for diagnosis and removal.
- Contrary to popular belief in the veterinary community, struvite crystals are not a consequence of too much magnesium in the diet.
- Signs to watch for; very frequent litter box use, licking urethral area excessively, straining to urinate, crying in pain while urinating, urinating in various areas of the home, blood in the urine, depression, lack of appetite
- When struvite crystals are suspected or even confirmed, a urine culture is essential, in order to identify whether a bacterial infection is present, and which anti-biotic may be most appropriate, or even whether anti-biotic treatment is necessary.
- The incidence of struvite crystals in cats coincides exactly with the advent and widespread use of dry commercial cat foods. These diets became popular in the 1970’s, and since that time, our precious felines have been subjected to this very painful and unnecessary condition.
- Most often, the cause of struvite crystals in cats is dry commercial pet foods. Due to the lack of moisture in the diet, the urine becomes too concentrated, and due to the use of plant-based ingredients in dry kibble, the urine becomes too alkaline. An alkaline environment in very concentrated urine predisposes struvite formation. Struvite crystals do not tend to appear in a more acidic environment and where the urine is more dilute. The cat is not a natural water drinker, as it has evolved over millions of years, in a very arid part of the planet, and derived most of its moisture from its prey. Consequently, the domestic cat which is fed a diet of dry foods is chronically dehydrated.
- Acidifying the diet with veterinary prescription diets, usually does not work, and most cats resist these unappetizing foods.
- The best line of defense is prevention. When the cat consumes a balanced, natural diet of raw meat, the urine can maintain a more natural pH. The water content of the food (typically 75 – 80% moisture) creates a more dilute urine, and struvite formation, does not usually occur.
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