What treats are appropriate for cats with bladder issues?
March 7, 2014 8:55 AM   Subscribe

We've just adopted a 9-month-old kitten (say hi, Nigel) and he had bladder crystal problems. What treats can we feed him and our older, non-bladder-issue cats?

Spike and Giles are super healthy, no problems, but a vet friend said it would be ok for them to eat the dry Hill's c/d bladder formula food, too. They enjoy bagged treats and the occasional can of ultra-stinky "pet tuna" from Trader Joe's. We'd like to be able to continue giving them treats but this is the first cat I've had with serious bladder crystal problems and I don't want him to go through it again if he doesn't have to!

(He was found as a kitten, all blocked up. The shelter operated and fixed it. He got adopted. His human didn't adhere to feeding him the right things and surrendered him to the shelter with a bladder "the size of an orange." More surgery.)

I NEVER want him to suffer again so maybe I'm being extra cautious, but if you have experience with this condition or any appropriate treats they could enjoy in addition to the prescription food, please let me know!

Thanks from the cat gang of spoiled princes.
posted by bitter-girl.com to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nigel! What a cutie.

My bladder-crystal-prone kitty, and my mother's as well, love and do well on the Halo Liv-a-Little treats, which they think are the most delicious thing ever. I think probably any decent brand of treats in small doses is going to be fine.

In your position, I think I'd be focusing on getting plenty of water into him, since he'll be on a dry food. Some cats drink more with a fountain than a still water dish - might be worth checking out. You might also consider sprinkling his food and/or treats with something like the Wysong Biotic supplement (they have two different versions for the two types of crystals, you might need to check with your vet about which type he had if you don't already know.) Not sure about the advisability of using that with a bladder protective food - you'd want to talk to your vet.

Also, you may already know this, but erring on the side of too much information: You might want to pick up a box or two of a special kind of cat litter - I forget the brand I used, but I think there are a few - that turns colors if cat urine pH is out of range. I recall it being expensive stuff you wouldn't want to use daily, but if you suspected a brewing problem, or wanted to monitor every few months or something, it might put your mind at ease to have him use the special litter for a day or two as an early warning system.

My guy did very well after a couple of crystal attacks and has been fine for years and years now. I hope Nigel has the same great outcome!
posted by Stacey at 9:39 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

This might be a good thing to ask your vet. My dog is prone to bladder crystals and is on C/D, so I empathize. My dog gets only freeze-dried beef liver treats, but I don't know if cats can/will eat those.

Stacey is right, hydration is super important. I used to pour water on my dog's food but that got messy. Would you consider wet food? The main reason a lot of cat owners feed wet food is the moisture. Also my vet recommended giving my dog chicken broth occasionally, you should ask your vet if that is appropriate for your cat. He loves the taste so the extra liquid is good, plus the salt makes him want to drink even more. FWIW he goes nuts for the Trader Joe's organic one.
posted by radioamy at 10:00 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Our bladder-crystal-prone cat loves Pill Pockets, which is handy. We make sure to feed him one every now and then for no reason so that he doesn't associate them with the vet.
posted by telophase at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Blessings to you for adopting this kitty, bladder issues are horrible.

If you won't do wet food, try adding 1-2 tbsp of water to his dry, and put it in a very round bowl so he'll have to lick to get at the food.

Treats - depends on how sensitive. If he's had 2 operations then I wouldn't chance treating him with anything other than the food he already eats. Sorry.

Treat him with a can of (urinary approved) wet every now and then.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:39 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

See what your vet says about adding D-Mannose powder to your kitty's food or water (or treats). It worked wonders on my very crystal-prone cats. It's the thing in cranberry juice which washes out harmful bacteria.
posted by jessicapierce at 10:41 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ha, look at you making plans for Nigel (what a cutie!).

My dear cat Caddy had chronic urinary tract infections, who was an adult adoptee and was one of three cats, the other two of whom were male and had no prescription needs.

Our fix was:

1. *never* feed kitty any food with tuna in it (tuna was a trigger).

2. Keep a sharp eye on her urine (she was pretty good about alerting us when there was a problem, but the quality of the clumping of the litter was markedly different when there was blood in her urine.

But #3 was the big one. Rather than treating her with steroids and antibiotics, which turned out to just be a vicious circle, when she started to show any sign of problem, we asked a veterinary assistant with whom we'd become close to come by and administer subcutaneous fluids. That washed out the infection and put her right again. At first we had to do it relatively frequently, but over time, it became less of a problem. She died of an entirely different problem and we felt that we had been able to give her a few really happy, healthy years.
posted by janey47 at 10:44 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a cat with bladder issues caused by kittenhood trauma. The Vets we used didn't say to watch out for specific treats or ingredients, but they did encourage us to use bottled water for the cats. Seemed to help, as she got less UTI's over time, until they stopped altogether.
posted by luckynerd at 10:58 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

These are all great tips -- thank you, everyone! I'm taking him for his first visit with our regular vet to get a baseline exam soon and an ongoing prescription for his food so I can order it from the (cheaper) online source, so I'll ask about all of the above.

Our other two are almost 9 and 10 respectively, and they've been having a (positive) shake-up in their routines! More playing, more running around like maniacs. I'm not against wet food, so maybe wet c/d food is the way to go for treats in future...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:17 PM on March 7, 2014

if you have experience with this condition or any appropriate treats they could enjoy in addition to the prescription food, please let me know!

Kitty cats can get several different kinds of uroliths. The particular diet that Nigel has been prescribed (Hill's C/D for cats) induces diuresis, restrict minerals, and changes the pH of his urine.

Advice from dog owners, or cat owners with different kinds of uroliths, may not be applicable to Nigel.

Please ask your vet what kind of treats you can give Nigel while maintaining the parameters of his prescription diet. Making sure he has plenty of fresh water is a great idea, but I would advise you to consult with your vet before giving him treats or supplements.
posted by Seppaku at 3:31 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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