Last month we discussed diets for your dogs with bladder infections. This month we will look at a healthy diet for your cat, and the use of Cranberry for both dogs and cats.

Diet for Cats with Bladder Infections
3 1/2 ounces firm raw tofu
2 1/4 ounces sardines, canned in tomato sauce
1/2 ounce clams, chopped in juice
1/2 yolk of large hard-boiled egg
1/3 cup long grain, cooked brown rice
2 teaspoons chicken fat or canola oil
1/2 ounce brewer's yeast
100 mg taurine

This diet provides 501 Kcal (enough to fulfill the daily amount required for a 16-pound cat), 37.4 gm protein, 29.6 gm fat, 62.2 mg sodium/100 kcal (a high sodium diet).

Variations
  1. Substitute 2 ounces of tuna (in water without sodium), 2 ounces of canned salmon (with bones), 2 3/4 ounces of chicken breast, 4 ounces of lean ground beef, or 4 ounces of lean ground lamb for the sardines.
  2. Substitute 1/3 cup of potato, cooked with the skin, or 1/3 cup of cooked macaroni for the rice.
  3. Supply vitamins and minerals as follows: 1 bonemeal tablet (10-grain or equivalent) or 1/2 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multivitamin/mineral supplement using the label instructions. Alternatively, use a natural product from Standard Process (1 Calcifood Wafer or 2 Calcium Lactate tablets for each 2 bonemeal tablets).
  4. When possible, use natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins (although both can be used in combination), as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically synthesized vitamins. Use either Catalyn from Standard Process (at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 10 pounds) or NuCat from VetriScience (following label dosages) as the natural vitamin in this recipe.
  5. For nutrition and variety, use fresh, raw or slightly steamed vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli (approximately 1/2 to 1 cup per recipe), as a top dressing for the diet. (Many cats, however, will not eat vegetables.) Most vegetables provide approximately 25 kcal per 1/2 cup.
  6. Add supplements that can be beneficial, such as omega-3 fatty acids, plant enzymes, and a super green food or health blend formula.

Note: If adding vegetables or other supplements, monitor urine pH when feeding the diet with these supplements and without the supplements to be sure the pH does not change from acid to alkaline.

Diets for cats with struvite stones should contain 20 to 40 mg/100 kcal of magnesium and 125 to 250 mg/100 kcal of phosphorus. These levels are higher than those recommended by the NRC for adult cats. Eliminating the oil and rice from this diet will further increase the magnesium and phosphorus.

Cranberry
The cranberry plant, a relative of the common blueberry plant, has been used as food and as a treatment of bladder disease. Research has shown that drinking cranberry juice makes the urine more acidic. Since common urinary tract infections in pets (especially dogs) are caused by bacteria such as E. Coli, which function best in alkaline urine, many holistic doctors promote cranberry juice extracts for treating bladder infections.

In addition, since the most common bladder stones in dogs and cats, and the sand-like gravel and microscopic crystals that are often encountered in cats with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD, formerly called FUS) form in alkaline urine, acidifying the urine with supplements such as cranberry extracts may prove helpful.

However, contrary to early research in people, it now appears that acidification of the urine is not so important as cranberry’s ability to block bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Preventing bacterial adhesion to the bladder wall prevents infection and allows the bacteria to be washed out with the urine.

Cranberry juice is believed to be most effective as a form of prevention. When taken regularly, it appears to reduce the frequency of recurrent bladder infections in women prone to develop them. Cranberry may also be helpful during a bladder infection but not as reliably. Similar findings are lacking in pets but may be applicable.

In People, the recommended dosage of dry cranberry juice extract is 300 to 400 mg twice daily, or 8 to 16 ounces of juice daily. Pure cranberry juice (not sugary cranberry juice cocktail with its low percentage of cranberry) should be used for best effect.

For pets, the recommended dosage varies with the product. One recommended product used in cats suggests a daily dose of 250 mg of cranberry extract. Cranberry juice is not recommended, as it is all but impossible to get most pets to drink enough of the juice to be effective.

There are no known risks of this food for adults, children, or pregnant or nursing women, nor are there any known risks in pets. However, cranberry juice may allow the kidneys to excrete certain drugs more rapidly, thereby reducing their effectiveness. All weakly alkaline drugs may be affected, including many antidepressants and prescription painkillers.

In dogs and cats, the push to acidify the urine through prescription-type diets has led to a slight increase in oxalate stones in the bladder, which are more common in acid urine. Pets taking cranberry extract would be more prone to develop crystals and stones such as oxalate stones. However, since the crystals and stones that form in alkaline urine are much more commonly diagnosed, pets with chronic stones (and cats with chronic FLUTD) would probably benefit from acidification of the urine even with the slight risk of stones forming in acid urine. Discuss this with your veterinarian.

Conventional Therapy
Conventional therapies for pets with bladder infections require the use of antibiotics for two to three weeks, or longer for chronic infections. Recurring bladder infections often indicate an underlying problem, such as bladder stones or bladder cancer. In the absence of these other problems, pets with chronic bladder infections may require lifelong treatment with antibiotics and special diets to acidify the urine. Alternatively, urinary acidifiers can also be used for the treatment of chronic bladder infections. There is an increased incidence of oxalate stones in patients who maintain acid urine as the result of using acidifiers (oxalate stones form in acid urine, whereas the more common struvite stones prefer alkaline urine).

Shawn Messonnier, DVM

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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!

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