How To Help Your Cat Pass A Hairball Ruling Out Urinary Tract Issues And Obstructions

Are you a new cat parent, or looking to brush up on your pet care skills? Here are our tips for keeping your cat happy and healthy.

Avoid punishing the cat as this instills fear. Sadly, many cats exhibiting debilitating lung disease are simply put on an immunosuppressive dose of steroids — while still being fed an inappropriate diet. I ignore the dry matter basis columns. In such a case where medications are tried with no results, the cat may need external help to evacuate the bowels.

The less expensive foods like Friskies, 9-Lives, and Fancy Feast are also fine to feed. Chronic kidney disease is probably the leading cause of mortality in the cat. It is troubling to think about the role that chronic dehydration may play in causing or exacerbating feline kidney disease.

I would have to be stranded on a desert island with no other food source before I would ever consider feeding these diets to any cat in my care. Regarding hydration, I must say that I find it truly amazing when I hear about the very large numbers of cats receiving subcutaneous fluids while being maintained on a diet of dry food.

This is an extremely illogical and unhealthy practice and every attempt should be made to get these cats on a diet that contains a higher moisture content.

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However, please understand that there are no studies showing that restricting protein to this level will prevent further deterioration of kidney function. Of course, the same deterioration can occur in any cat that is not consuming enough protein, but the level of protein in these diets is not only at anextremely low level, it is in an incomplete form for a carnivore.

Note that they are often made up mainly of plant proteins — not meat proteins — especially the dry versions. Please see Feline Urinary Tract Health for a more detailed discussion. The first paragraph on that webpage states: Cystitis is an extremely common and very painful problem in the cat.

Stones are also very common and can lead to a life-threatening urinary tract blockage. I sincerely hope that these pictures of Opie make a huge impact on anyone who is still not convinced that dry food causes significant suffering in many cats. Rest assured that veterinarians deal with blocked cats extremely frequently which is heartbreaking considering how rarely cats block when on all canned food — especially with added water.

Cystitis can lead to inappropriate urination urinating outside of the litter box and stones can cause a fatal rupture of the bladder by blocking the outflow of urine. This is one reason why it is so important to use a clumping scoopable litter.

Clumping litter allows you to see just how much, if any, urine is being voided. I often see too much clinical significance placed on the identification of crystals in the urine without regard to how the urine sample was handled. It is very important to understand that crystals will often form onceoutside of the body within a very short minutes period of time.

If the veterinarian does not examine the urine right away and either sends it to an outside laboratory or uses a free-catch sample that the owner brought from home, an erroneous diagnosis of crystals may be made. With regard to overall kidney and bladder health, I cannot stress strongly enough how important water is in both the prevention and treatment of diseases involving this organ system.

This increases the chance of these crystals forming life-threatening stones. It is also thought that the highly concentrated urine may be very irritating to the bladder wall in some cats, predisposing them to painful cystitis.

Please keep in mind that a cat has a very low thirst drive and is designed to get water with their food.

Dr Why Cats Get Hairballs, Prevention & Treatment

A diet of canned food will keep a proper amount of water flowing through the urinary tract system and help maintain its health. Adding TBS of water plain or flavored — such as tuna water, clam juice, chicken or beef broth per meal is also very beneficial.

Make your own tuna water by taking one can of tuna and mixing the contents into 3 cups of water. Pour the water into covered ice cube trays. Freeze to prolong the freshness.

Use covered trays to keep the water tasting and smelling fresh. Crystals in cat urine are as normal as the leaves that fall on your driveway. This is what happened to Opie above. To repeat, crystals are not necessarily an abnormal finding in cat urine. However, they can become a problem if Man continues to insist on feeding the cat a water-depleted diet.

Mindy and Mikie Urine pH is also often considered when discussing urinary tract problems but we really need to stop focusing so heavily on pH. Again, a proper amount of water in the diet is the important issue here — not urine pH.

Many of the often-prescribed feline lower urinary tract diets are formulated to make the urine acidic but it is thought that these low magnesium, acidifying diets may actually exacerbate painful cystitis. Also, these acidifying diets often end up promoting calcium oxylate stone formation and can also lead to hypokalemia low potassium in the blood which can cause or exacerbate kidney disease.

It is also important to note — for those people still stuck on worrying about the urine pH — that there are many factors which determine the pH of urine and only one of them is diet.

Urine pH varies throughout the day and using one pH measurement from a single urine sample is very misleading and is not terribly helpful information. Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, pork fat preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid ,chicken liver flavor, taurine, preserved with BHT and BHA Newer formulation: Diet is not the only issue involved with cystitis but it is an important one and one that we can control.

Stress is also thought to play a very significant role in cystitis and even cats that are fed a percent canned food diet may experience bouts of cystitis. This is a very frustrating disease to deal with and one that the veterinary community does not have all the answers for.

The water content of the diet is easy to control — feed canned food with added water. Cystitis can be extremely painful and it is very important to address pain management in these cats. Buprenex is a good choice for a pain medication and I often dispense it for the client to have on hand for chronic cystitis patients — as long as the client understand the critical importance of close monitoring of the patient to make sure he is passing urine and is not obstructed.

Buprenex is superior to Torbugesic which has been used for pain management in the cat in the past. Burprenex is a prescription medication that you must get from your veterinarian.

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Unfortunately, many veterinarians overlook pain medications as a very important part of the treatment of this common feline problem. Andy A very important note on antibiotic usage in these cases: Most cases of cystitis are sterile.

In other words, they are not the result of an infection and the patient should not be placed on antibiotics. Most cats under 10 years of age produce a very concentrated urine USG greater than 1. In cats over 10 years of age, infections are more common but that still does not mean that older cats with cystitis should automatically be put on antibiotics.

The reason that an older cat is more prone to urinary tract infections is because kidney disease is more common in this age group and so these cats will have a more dilute urine which is not as hostile to bacterial growth. Diabetes and hyperthyroidism are also more common in cats over 10 years of age and both disease render the patient more prone to urinary tract infections.

Placing litter boxes away from the food areas. I often see too much clinical significance placed on the identification of crystals in the urine without regard to how the urine sample was handled. Sometimes adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of canned pumpkin plain pumpkin, no pie filling or spices to the cat's food may help get things moving.

It must be kept in mind that even with a low USG, most cases of cystitis are not due to an infection. Antibiotics are NOT harmless drugs and they need to be used with more critical thought than is currently happening in both human and veterinary medicine.

This is especially true of Convenia. Please do not allow that drug to be injected into your cat without reading my Convenia webpage first. This is not a painful procedure for the cat and this method is the only way to obtain a sample for accurate information in order to properly treat with antibiotics.

One problem, however, is that a sample may be difficult to obtain without waiting a couple of hours since cats with cystitis urinate frequently and often do not have enough urine in their bladder to get a good sample.

To get around this problem, your veterinarian can give the your cat a dose of subcutaneous just under the skin fluids. The patient is then put into a cage without a litter box.

Within a couple of hours or lessthe bladder is usually full enough to obtain a urine sample via cystocentesis. We have to stop treating all cases of cystitis with antibiotics without supporting evidence of an infection!

Cystitis will often recur in these patients and this painful health problem can be very frustrating to deal with.

If this does not work, try warming up the food a bit. Energy Boost If the cat is not diabetic, rubbing some pancake syrup on its gums may give a little boost of energy. These symptoms could mean an internal blockage that can potentially be life-threatening.

On a good note, most cats will have their clinical signs spontaneously resolve even without any treatment. In fact, it has often been said, jokingly, that a cat with cystitis will often stop exhibiting clinical signs within seven days with antibiotics and in one week without antibiotics.

When this happens, the abuse of antibiotics continues. IBD can also present with weight loss as the only clinical sign. Too often these cats are treated with a high level of steroids and a prescription grain-laden dry food diet.

I feel very strongly that this common therapeutic regimen dismisses the very significant role that a proper diet plays in our IBD patients.

Taking it even one step further, there are many reports of cats with IBD that improved tremendously on a balanced homemade diet. See Making Cat Food for a balanced recipe. Some cats do need steroids temporary or long-term but we need to focus more heavily on feeding these patients an appropriate diet rather than simply relying on immunosuppressive medications.

Back to top Robbie had severe diarrhea for two years until put on a species-appropriate homemade diet. The frequent vomiting of hairballs can be a symptom of IBD. I often receive emails asking what the best diet is to feed to cats suffering from hairballs.

The bottom line is that as much hair as possible should be prevented from getting into the cat in the first place. This is accomplished with daily brushing or, in some cases, shaving the cat if hairballs are creating serious problems.

Amber can only be shaved when she is under general anesthesia. Therefore, almost every summer she gets a dental cleaning and body shave to keep her comfortable during the hot summer months.

She never had a problem with hairballs even with a full coat but she is a lot happier without her long hair when the weather is hot. Hairball problems are not just associated with long hair coats.

Shorthaired cats — especially double-coated cats — can also have problems with hairballs. However, a healthy intestinal tract should be able to deal with hair normally ingested by the cat.

That said, if we want to help our cats out in this area, we need to brush them daily. Obesity is an extremely common and very serious health problem in cats. Overweight cats are four times more likely to develop diabetes than cats that are at an optimal weight. Bennie before being rescued Obese cats cannot clean themselves properly resulting in painful skin inflammation in their perineal area Just after I broke Bennie out of jail Obese cats suffer from painful orthopedic problems Mindy and Molly — just after Molly discovered how good canned food is for her obese but carnivorous body Obligate carnivores are designed to meet their energy needs with a high protein, moderate fat diet with little to no carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are minimally used for energy and those that are not used are converted to and stored as fat. The choice is then to raise either the protein or carbohydrate content of the diet, or both.

An optimal weight loss diet should be: When looking at the Cat Food Composition chart, you will note that there are not many examples of this profile.

Because fat is cheaper than protein. Therefore, low carb diets are usually high in fat. You will notice that many of the higher protein diets are fish-based but it is not a good idea to feed fish to cats.

Or, at least not as their main diet. It is best to feed poultry-based diets to cats. Water content of the diet is very important. Studies have shown that cats lose weight much easier on canned food versus dry. Dry food is very calorically dense and is high in carbohydrates which are not as satisfying to a cat as protein is.

This is not our goal. The goal is to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. However, feeding a small amount of a diet that is inappropriate for the species is not the answer! The caretaker often ends up with either a crabby, overweight cat or a thinner cat that may have lost too much muscle mass.

Molly had great difficulty walking and cleaning herself due to her obese condition which was brought on by the consumption of dry food. Kittens, however, loved using her for a pillow.

This is obviously not sound — or humane — obesity management advice. Chicken by-product meal, corn meal, powdered cellulose This diet is even more unhealthy than it used to be.

There are much more species appropriate — and less expensive — ways to address feline obesity. Hepatic Lipidosis Fatty Liver Disease: This is the most common metabolic liver disease of cats.

Even though thin cats can end up with hepatic lipidosis, overweight cats are much more prone to experiencing this disease. Feeding a high-protein, low-carbohydrate canned diet helps keep cats at an optimal, healthy body weight and, in turn, makes them less likely to end up with fatty liver disease.

Long-standing claims that cats have less dental disease when they are fed dry food versus canned food are grossly overrated, inaccurate, and are not supported by studies. This frequently stated among veterinarians and lay people myth continues to harm cats by perpetuating the idea that their food bowls need to be filled up with an unhealthy diet in order to keep their teeth clean.

The idea that dry food promotes dental health makes about as much sense as the idea that crunchy cookies would promote dental health in a human. First, dry food is hard, but brittle, and merely shatters with little to no abrasive effect on the teeth.

Third, many cats swallow the majority of their dry food whole. When cats consume their prey in the wild, they are tearing at flesh, hide, bones, tendons, and ligaments. This is a far cry from the consistency of dry or canned food.

It is very important to understand that plain meat ie — without bones or another source of calcium is very unbalanced since there is minimal calcium in meat. Remember that when a cat eats his normal prey, he is consuming the bones along with the meat.

For example, if a cat is eating 6 ounces of canned food per day, you could feed him 5 ounces of canned food plus 1 ounce of chunked muscle meat per day. See this video for more information. Please pay close attention to the statement in the video regarding a thorough dental exam by your veterinarian before starting a brushing program.

Many cats have very painful mouths but show no outward signs of this pain. If this aversion occurs, you may never get him to accept tooth brushing once you have addressed the painful mouth with your vet. With regard to frequency, once-daily is optimal. By the time 72 hours have passed, the film on the teeth becomes permanent so shoot for at least every other day.

Please understand that I am not saying that canned food is necessarily better for teeth than dry food. The compromise is to at least give them some muscle meat to chew on, in addition to brushing their teeth if possible, and to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that dry food promotes dental health in our cats.

Some of these struggling cats may have been reacting to storage mites or cockroach antigens that are present in dry foods, or they may have been reacting to the gluten protein fraction part of the grains that are present in dry foods.

Sadly, many cats exhibiting debilitating lung disease are simply put on an immunosuppressive dose of steroids — while still being fed an inappropriate diet. While steroids are necessary in many cases of airway disease, they are not addressing the root of the problem which can, in many cases, be an allergy to proteins in the form of species-inappropriate grains, and insect antigens.

Robbie and Calvin flexing their muscles The Safety of Dry Food Dry food is far from a clean, safe, and pathogen-free source of food for your cat.

Fungal mycotoxins are deadly chemicals produced by molds. Molds are very common contaminants of grains but molds can be found in many different food sources.

In mid Januarycows died from eating moldy sweet potatoes that were mixed into their feed. Keep in mind that dry foods are not refrigerated and they sit in warm warehouses, on pet store shelves, and in your cupboards for weeks or months before your pets consume them leading to increased bacterial growth and rancid fats.

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition

At the very least, dry food should be kept in the refrigerator but it is better to just refrain from feeding this type of food completely.

This is the hard part. Cats, like children, often resist what is best for them. The transition process often involves much more than just plunking down a new food item.

Time, patience and tricks are often required. One reason that cats like dry food so much is because the pet food companies do not play fair when manufacturing this sub-optimal food source. Irritability we may understand why Vocalization with straining also symptomatic of a UTI In more severe cases of constipation requiring veterinary care, your cat may exhibit: Lethargy Anorexia Vomiting Feline constipation may be confusing at times.

Your cat may be straining one instant and have diarrhea the next. Liquid stool is all that can pass the mass of dry impacted feces; this diarrhea may be mixed with blood or mucous. Keep in mind, even if what you see in the litterbox looks like diarrhea, it may be secondary to an impaction.

This period of constipation may cause cats to become dehydrated, so make sure your cat gets water. You can check the level of dehydration in a cat by lifting the skin over its shoulder blades. In a hydrated cat, it should spring back promptly.

If the skin "tents," and slowly returns to position, your cat is most likely dehydrated and should be taken to the veterinarian for supplementary fluids. Offer Wet Food Wet food helps the bowels significantly more than dry food.

You may also want to increase your cat's fiber intake. Sometimes adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of canned pumpkin plain pumpkin, no pie filling or spices to the cat's food may help get things moving. A special senior diet or hairball diet also contains a good amount of fiber.

Keep in mind, if you need to change your cat's diet you must do so slowly to avoid gastrointestinal issues. Psyllium Husk Incorporating fiber into your cat's diet can also provide relief. A pure psyllium-containing product should help soften stool.

Home Remedies for Your Cat's Upset Stomach

Always check with your veterinarian before incorporating new supplements into your cat's diet, especially if your cat has dietary sensitivities and restrictions. Products should not contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to cats.

Hairballs are inevitable for cats, and if your feline is extra fluffy, it may be a chronic problem. Luckily, there are plenty of great hairball remedies, medicines, and prevention tools out there.

In my veterinary practice, we once treated a cat suffering from megacolon. The owner noticed a great improvement after sprinkling a bit of Benefiber on top of her cat's canned food.

Most cats are lactose intolerant and sometimes some milk can help the cat, but this is generally avoided due to undesirable side effects.

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Oral Stimulants Laxatone, which vet offices often sell over-the-counter, is a good stimulant and is available in yummy flavors.

It is usually given to cats with hairball problems but may stimulate a bowel movement. It should not be used long-term. Laxatone is best given on an empty stomach because it may interfere with nutrient absorption. You can offer Laxatone on your finger—your cat may happily lick it off.

Lactulose is a sugary syrup that retains water in the stool and makes feces easier to pass. Docusate sodium Colace is a gentle laxative that may be used for constipation. Cisapride may be used for stubborn cases.

Cisapride should be used only in instances where gastrointestinal motility won't harm the patient due to mechanical impaction.

Preventing Constipation Is Key Once the constipation episode resolves, it is important to prevent future episodes from happening. Over time, the colon may lose muscular motility and cause a condition called megacolon enlargement of the large intestine which often requires surgical correction.

In such a case where medications are tried with no results, the cat may need external help to evacuate the bowels. Techniques may include enemas and the manual extraction of impacted feces; this is a permanent condition requiring repeated medications, trips to the veterinarian's office, or surgery.

Do not use human enemas on cats! Fleet enemas and those containing phosphate, sodium phosphate, or saline, can be fatal. It is vital at this point to find out the root cause of the constipation. Some common causes include age, obesity, and lack of exercise, but some triggers are harder to pinpoint.

You can follow these steps to reduce the likelihood of an episode: Always allow access to clean, fresh water.

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