best alternative cat food?
February 11, 2008 5:20 PM   Subscribe

My cats usually eat Royal Canin Urinary S/O food. The vet was out of it on Saturday, was supposed to get more in today but didn't. My cats are hungry. What's the best alternative that I can get at a regular pet food store (Petsmart is closest)?

My older cat was put on the prescription food because of crystals in his urine (he's 7, neutered). I feed it to the younger one (1.5 yrs, neutered) out of convenience and as a preventative to future urinary problems. Both like it.

I just need to feed them something tonight and I don't want to totally throw their systems out of whack. FWIW, I was thinking about wet food because it's been cold and dry lately and they've gotten dandruffy (they're both black so it shows up really well).
posted by desjardins to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a cat that has the same problem. As far as the urinary problems go, it's no big deal to feed your cat regular food for a few days. It takes some time for the change in pH of the urine to cause crystals to accumulate. Since that's probably a maintenance food, you could ask about getting a small supply of the food that the vet used initially to change the pH. Overall though, my understanding would be that your cat would be at minimal risk from having normal food for short periods of time.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:30 PM on February 11, 2008

Purina One has a urinary-health blend that seemed pretty close formula-wise to the Prescription Diet C/D my cats usually eat. You can find it at PetSmart or occasinally at the grocery store. I keep a bag at home in case we run out of the other, even though the vet doesn't like it. I figure for a day or two it won't kill them (although certainly IANAV). Also, my vet has given me a prescription slip to carry around in case I ever need to buy the 'scrip stuff at PetSmart.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:31 PM on February 11, 2008

If it's not too late, get your vet to call in a prescription to a clinic that DOES have it, or get your vet to suggest something as a stop gap. Feeding one meal of Fancy Feast or something is unlikely to do any harm, but I wouldn't mess with urinary issues in male cats for much more than a meal or two.
posted by biscotti at 5:32 PM on February 11, 2008

Whatever they'll eat. If you've been feeding them the same food for a long time, there's a good chance they'll turn their noses up at whatever alternate you carefully choose anyway.
posted by clh at 5:37 PM on February 11, 2008

yeah, i doubt a day or two of something else will hurt them. buy them some meat baby food--most cats love it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:40 PM on February 11, 2008

Non-prescription wet food should be fine, according to my vet.
posted by chez shoes at 5:46 PM on February 11, 2008

Science Diet light is a good choice when nothing else is available. I have used it before for my cats with urine crystal issues.
posted by bolognius maximus at 5:51 PM on February 11, 2008

A day or two of something else should be fine. Wet food is a good idea - keeping them well hydrated is pretty crucial to preventing the crystals, according to my vet. But for a couple of days, dry food isn't going to do them any lasting damage.

I don't generally recommend your average grocery store cat food, but if the urinary crystals are your main concern, I dimly recall that Whiskas has a couple of flavors specifically marked on the can as being good for urinary health.
posted by Stacey at 6:13 PM on February 11, 2008

Nthing wet food. My vet suggested it iwhen we ran out of the S/O food during a set of blizzards, it said it would do the cat no harm.
posted by scabrous at 6:29 PM on February 11, 2008

you know what, i just remembered seeing royal canin at petsmart. they may have it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:45 PM on February 11, 2008

This is a prescription food, you can't get it at Petsmart.
posted by biscotti at 8:11 PM on February 11, 2008

The Purina One is actually pretty darn good stuff. We've used it as a fill in many times, and none of our other 6 cats have had any urinary problems like the one has had. Our vet says it's fine to use a fill in, as long as you kepp the prescription stuff as the primary food.
posted by azpenguin at 10:57 PM on February 11, 2008

My cat had the same problem at about the same age. After much hassle and expense, it was found that adding water to a decent quality supermarket cat food and avoiding cat biscuits did the trick. It seems that many cats just don't drink enough if their food is not wet enough. 7 years or so of this regime has not seen any further urinary issues.
posted by Jakey at 2:06 AM on February 12, 2008

i actually would recommend against most of what has been said. both of my cats have had crystal issues and are on Hills Prescription Diet C/D. recently one got a UTI anyway with tiny crystals. the vet told us that giving her anything, even letting her lick out ice cream spoon when we are done, can alter her pH and that we have to be very strict that she gets nothing to eat but the food she is prescribed. even other brands of crystal control stuff may not work as different cats' systems process things differently.
but by now it is probably too late for an answer anyway. oh well.
posted by annoyance at 6:56 AM on February 12, 2008

Well, I ended up getting some canned food called AvoDerm Select cuts in the organic aisle at PetSmart. I thought they'd just LOVE this stuff - it's got chunks of tuna and crabmeat and shrimp in there and practically looks good enough for me to eat (if I were trapped in a mine for several days). Older cat dove right in and would have scratched my eyeballs out if I'd taken it away. Young cat could have cared less, but finally ate some, hours later, in the realization I wasn't giving him anything else. He still left half of it overnight.

I hope annoyance's vet is paranoid; in any case, I should get their regular food from the vet tonight, so all will be right with the world.
posted by desjardins at 7:10 AM on February 12, 2008

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