Raw Information and Resources

Feline Nutrition Foundation Archive

Feline Nutrition Home PageBeginner
Feline Nutrition's Easy Homemade Cat Food RecipeBeginner's Luck: Where Do I Start?How to Transition to a Raw Cat Food DietJust What is a Raw Cat Food Diet, Anyway?Easy Raw Cat Food for the Busy PersonYour Cat's Nutritional Needs: The BasicsThe Benefits of Raw Food for CatsThere's No Such Thing as a Vegan CatEight Effective Bribes for the Kibble AddictDon't Let Your Senior Cat Become a Skinny Old KittyThe Skinny on Senior Cats: Metabolism ExplainedSlimming Your Cat: What Works, What Doesn'tHigh Pressure Processing: The Future of Raw Cat Food?No Bull, Taurine Is a Must for KittyAdding Taurine to a Raw Cat Food DietHomemade Cat Food, a Balancing ActThiamine in Raw Food for CatsCalcium Supplements in Homemade Cat FoodDon't Let Calcium/Phosphorous Ratios Scare YouVitamin E: Liquid vs. PowderArginine: Essential and Abundant for Cat NutritionLysine and Raw Cat Food DietsCare to Compare? Wild vs. Domesticated PreySpooked By Salmonella: Raw Cat Food!Tips for Transitioning Your Finicky Kitties'Natural' vs. 'Grain-Free' Cat FoodFiguring Out the Carbs in Canned Cat FoodTake Heart, But Not Too MuchThe Case Against Cod Liver OilFeeding Kitten Food to an Adult CatRaw Cat Food vs. More FiberProbiotics, Digestive Enzymes and Raw Cat FoodRaw Cat Food and Kibble Don't MixFeline Nutrition: Who Bears the Responsibility?Pet Food and Feeding: Personal RuminationsReading a Pet Food Ingredient Label
Bio-Inappropriate: The Dangers of Dry Cat FoodFeline Diabetes: The Influence of DietFeline Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Nature and TreatmentFeline Hyperthyroidism: What You Need to KnowA Diet for Your Cat's Urinary and Kidney HealthConstipation: Real Help for Your CatPhosphorus Can Be Key for Cat KidneysWater, Water and Water Battles CrystalsFeline Cystitis and Bladder/Kidney StonesHigh Blood Pressure: Yes, Your Cat Can Get It, TooNutrition is Vital When Treating Feline LeukemiaFeline Pancreatitis: Signs of TroubleAnother Furball? It Might Be Feline AsthmaOpen Wide: The Basics of Kitty DentalsCat Scratch Fever: How It Affects CatsDiet and Your Cat's Cancer RiskChunks and Bones For Your Cat's TeethA Cat's Food Allergies and Intolerances ExplainedHow Toxoplasmosis Affects CatsAvoiding Hepatic Lipidosis in Your CatHow Raw Food for Cats Affects Blood Test ResultsGet Kitty Exercising to Trim DownSalmonella: The Chicken or the EggSafe Handling Practices for Raw MeatIf You're Feeling Stressed, So Is Your CatChoosing the Right Insulin for Your Diabetic CatA Veterinarian's View on Raw Cat Food: Andrea Tasi, VMD
Answers: What Exactly is an 'Obligate Carnivore?'Answers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's AppetiteAnswers: Why Won't My Cat Eat?Answers: Who Were Pottenger's Cats and Do They Matter?Answers: To Grind or Not to Grind Raw Cat Food?Answers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's TeethAnswers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's FurAnswers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's PeeAnswers: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat's GutAnswers: One More Reason to Ditch Dry Cat FoodAnswers: Do Cats Need Dietary Fiber?Answers: Cats in a Bind over PhosphorusAnswers: Let's Talk About Cat BarfAnswers: Making Raw Cat Food Kitty-SizedAnswers: Raw Food for Cats, What About Eating Bones?Answers: Getting Kitty to Like ChunkyAnswers: Are Exotic Meats Nutritious or a Novelty for Cats?Answers: Raw Food and Outdoor Cats, What About Worms?Answers: Take a Deep Breath and Cut the Mouse in HalfAnswers: The Stomach Contents of PreyAnswers: Flaxseed Oil for Kitty?Answers: Plant vs. Meat – The Protein Feud for Cat FoodAnswers: Kitty That Only Wants FishAnswers: Is It Okay for My Cat to Have Milk?Answers: Feed My Cat a Raw Egg Yolk?Answers: Raw Cat Food for My Cat's Mystery Allergy?Answers: Your Cat's Acid StomachAnswers: Cat Urine Ph, Why It MattersAnswers: Kittens Go Through Teething, TooAnswers: Raw Cat Food for All of Those Kittens!Answers: Why Did My Cat's Fur Get So Silky?Answers: Goaltending the Cat Food BowlAnswers: Who Are AAFCO and the NRC?Answers: Taking the Complexity Out of B Vitamins for CatsAnswers: The Paradox of Prescription Diets for Cats
How to Think Like a CatRaw Meaty Bones for Cats: Adult Supervision Required!Let Me Tell You About Raw Cat Food. Hey Come Back!But Kitty, What Nice Teeth You Have...Sasquatch vs. My CatI Worry About My CatYour Cat Worries About ThisYour Kitty May Need to Go to Chunk SchoolAre Cats Clandestine Consumers?Dry Cat Food – The Big EasyEight Cat CuriositiesCats and Cantaloupe: A Method to their MadnessThe Myth of the Finicky CatFalling Off the Cat Food Recipe CliffCat Daddy Talks Cat DietThe Popularity of Cat PoopThe Most Important Member, YouYou Said You Feed Your Cat, What?Oh! Those Dirty Little Kittens!It's My Cat's House, I Just Live ThereBlack Cats Are Not Unlucky at AllLessons From the Stoic CatIs There a Cat in the House?Rice Isn't NiceDon't Let it Bug You Kitty!Tell Your Cat to Chew on This!Cat Longevity and the Ultimate Test?Bug Patrol and Cat Stampedes: Life with Lots of CatsWhat Scraps?
Feeding Raw Food In Australia: What's Up Down UnderThe Cemetery Cats of Buenos AiresCats Are Paying Attention to Your FeelingsCheetahs in Captivity Need a Better DietIt Started With a Caracas Cat Named CaterpillarConsidering a Hybrid Cat?Tales from the Trenches: Feeding Kittens a Raw DietSaving Alistair: How Lyn Thomson Helped Stop IBD 11,000 Miles AwayRaw Cat Food Essentials and Fun Stuff, Too!There's No Kibble Served at the Big Cat RescueWhat Bob Dole Taught Me About Raw FoodAn Answer For Alex: Raw Food and Tight RegulationMangiare Crudo in Italia (Raw Fed in Italy)Melamine to Frankenprey: A Documented JourneyCould Everything We Know Be Wrong?A Brief History of Commercial Pet FoodWhen a Vegetarian Feeds A Raw DietRead Me! Great Books About CatsDuke's Story: Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseAdoption: What Should We Feed Our New Kitten?Malaysian Kittens Meet Frankenprey!Raw Food Co-ops: Make Buying Less Trying!Feeding Cats Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes
One Page Guides
Cats Are Cats!What Should You Be Feeding Your Cat?The Dangers of Dry FoodRaw Feeding for BeginnersTransitioning to a Raw DietEasy Recipe for Success
About Us
Welcome to Feline NutritionThe Feline Nutrition FoundationA Message from the FounderThe Feline Nutrition Foundation Mission StatementThe Feline Nutrition Team

Blog & Newsletter

Current Specials

Current Specials

This content is archived from the Feline Nutrition Foundation

Answers: The Paradox of Prescription Diets for Cats

Updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 12:27 PM
Published: Saturday, April 02, 2016 03:49 PM
Written by Guillermo Díaz. MV

My cat is two years old. I adopted him as a kitten when he was just three months old. Since then, he's been eating only a veterinarian-recommended diet. When he reached his first year of life, he began having urinary issues that finally led him to a blockage. After a long, painful and costly recovery, my vet recommended a prescription diet only, for the rest of his life. He was doing fine and seemed to enjoy his new dry food. Four months later he relapsed and I had to take him to the emergency vet. Why did this happen? Isn't the prescription diet supposed to prevent this? Did I do something wrong? I only followed the doctor's advice. I'm afraid this is going to happen again.

Because cats evolved in desert climates, their physiology has a specialized metabolism that conserves water. Cats have a very low thirst drive when compared to other species. This is why it's critical for them to ingest a water-rich diet, where the majority of their water intake is actually in the food itself. When cats feed naturally on raw animal tissues, their urinary system stays healthy because there is an appropriate amount of water flowing through the entire urinary tract. This fluid intake forces all of the byproducts of normal metabolism present in the bladder to be expelled several times a day. Raw cat food has a high water content of around 75 percent.¹ Compare this to the water content in dry, plant-based foods of 10 percent or less.

High dietary water intake is related to a significant increase in urine volume, reduction in the urine's specific gravity and a decrease in urinary crystals, demonstrating the beneficial effects of high-moisture diets on cat urinary parameters.² A study conducted by Dr. AE Stevenson has demonstrated that a diet high in moisture boosts a cat's total daily water intake to a level that cannot be achieved by simply providing drinking water alongside dry food.³ The higher daily water intake resulted in increased urine volume and dilution.

The second important issue to consider is the quality of the urine, and that means pH. The pH of urine is a measure of how acidic or alkaline it is. A pH of 7 is neutral. Everything above 7 is alkaline, everything below is acidic. The urine pH can be greatly influenced by diet. Normal urine in the cat and dog is mildly acidic and ranges from 6 to 6.5. Extremes in urine pH are more likely to be associated with disease. For example, a cat with highly-alkaline urine is more susceptible to bladder infections and may develop urolithiasis. An alkaline urine insults the integrity of the mucous layer of the urinary bladder which leads to inflammation and bacteria proliferation. One of the most common crystals found in the urine of blocked cats is struvite. It has been shown that the potential for struvite crystal formation is reduced if urine pH is 6.6 or below.

It is well known that herbivores, such as rabbits and horses, have a more alkaline urine because they eat primarily grains and grasses. When cats are fed a dry, grain-based diet, as is the case with almost all commercial dry cat foods, their urine becomes alkaline. This predisposes them for the formation of struvite stones and inflammation of the urinary bladder. This inflammation is called cystitis. Dry foods have been implicated as a risk factor for cats susceptible to feline lower urinary tract disease. Feeding wet foods has been shown to reduce the recurrence of calculi and signs of idiopathic cystitis compared with dry.

Pet food manufacturers are well aware that dry, grain-based foods promote alkaline urine. In order to "fix" their foods that are primarily corn, wheat and soy, they artificially acidify it by adding products such as DL Methionin and potassium citrate. It is a sad paradox to label any water-depleted dry food as a "urinary tract diet." It makes no sense to put our blocked cats on this kind of food when Mother Nature provides a diet that promotes excellent urinary health. It's a natural, prey-based diet our obligate carnivores evolved to eat over thousands of years. We replicate it today with raw cat food.

Note: Feline Nutrition provides feline health and nutrition information as a public service. Diagnosis and treatment of specific conditions should always be in consultation with your own veterinarian. Feline Nutrition disclaims all warranties and liability related to the veterinary advice and information provided on this site.

Dr. Guillermo Díaz and family, including their four dogs (Leroy, Xica, Moza and Pepa) and six cats (Michalina, Tigger, Vladimir, Yellow, Mongo and Chirusa) moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina in July of 2017, where he expects to continue supporting different animal rescue groups, spread the benefits of raw food for cats and dogs and write articles about nutrition.

1. "Chapter 3: Meat, Fat and Other Edible Carcass Parts," Meat Processing Technology For Small to Medium Scale Producers, Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO Document Repository.

2. CMF Buckley, A Hawthorn, A Colyera1 and AE Stevenson, "Effect of Dietary Water Intake on Urinary Output, Specific Gravity and Relative Supersaturation for Calcium Oxalate and Struvite in the Cat," British Journal of Nutrition 106, Supp S1, Oct 2011, S128-S130.

3. Buckley, et. al., "Effect of Dietary Water Intake on Urinary Output, Specific Gravity and Relative Supersaturation for Calcium Oxalate and Struvite in the Cat."

4. MD Finke and BA Litzenberger, "Effect of Food Intake on Urine pH in Cats," Journal of Small Animal Practice 33, No. 6, June 1992, 261-265.

5. Finke, et. al., "Effect of Food Intake on Urine pH in Cats."

6. CA Buffington, DJ Chew, MS Kendall, PV Scrivani, SB Thompson, JL Blaisdell and BE Woodworth, "Clinical Evaluation of Cats with Nonobstructive Urinary Tract Diseases," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 210, No. 1, Jan 1997, 46-50.

7. PJ Markwell, CAT Buffington DJ Chew, MS Kendall, JG Harte and SP DiBartola, "Clinical Evaluation of Commercially Available Urinary Acidification Diets in the Management of Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 214, No. 3, Feb 1999, 361-365.