Video: Feline Urological Syndrome: Stress-Related Disease
Cats are prone to diseases of the lower urinary tract (bladder, urethra), the consequences of which are especially severe for cats due to their anatomical features. This pathology is collectively called the urological syndrome, the symptoms of which for many years have been associated mainly with improper feeding. Recent research has shed new light on this issue.
Over the past quarter century, a real revolution has taken place in the practice of feeding cats: dry food appeared on the market, the use of which gave a number of advantages. They are easy to use, relatively cheap, and cats love their taste and love to crunch them throughout the day. Many cat owners have happily switched to this type of feeding their animals. Several years passed, and they began to respond negatively to pelleted feed, considering it to be the cause of the increased incidence of cystitis and urinary obstruction. Many cat owners considered it "bad for the kidneys." It was then that feeding specialists began to identify risk factors and change the composition of dry food.
Today, errors in the composition of earlier produced feeds have been corrected and, although the incidence of urinary syndrome in cats has significantly decreased, it has not been possible to completely get rid of this problem. It turned out that pathological factors are associated not so much with feeding as with the characteristics of the cat's body itself.
Excess magnesium. Let's go back ten to twenty years ago: the clinical picture of feline urolithiasis is unambiguous and the causes of it have been identified. Approximately 10% of the cat population is susceptible to this disease; symptoms appear around the age of one year (regardless of breed) of the cat. The syndrome is accompanied by the accumulation of stones and crystals in the bladder and urinary ducts, which are 90-97% composed of ammonium-magnesium phosphates (also called struvite). This "sand" causes irritation and leads to cystitis in cats of both sexes (the manifestation of cystitis is frequent urination in small portions with an admixture of blood) and in cats to blockage of the urethra due to the anatomical features of this organ (the urethra is long, curved).
Если кошки ведут малоподвижный образ жизни, страдают ожирением, то у них, скорее всего, урологический синдром связан с кормлением: the feed contains an excessive amount of magnesium, especially if the feed is not only high in magnesium, but also has a low energy value. It's not about the form of food and the form of granules, but about its composition: the only precaution that must be observed when using dry food is to gradually transfer the cat to them so that it can adapt to the food and, accordingly, develop a new drinking regime. Ammonium-magnesium phosphates (struvite) accumulate in a basic, neutral and slightly acidic medium. It is possible to prevent their formation by promoting the secretion of acidic urine, which is achieved by including natural or synthetic substances that have this effect in the feed. Thus, the main treatment for feline urinary syndrome is dietary nutrition. Чтобы растворить камни, больному животному предлагается диетический корм, часто в форме гранул, с низким содержанием магния, но достаточно энергосодержащий. Корм должен провоцировать постоянное окисление мочи. В дальнейшем во избежание рецидива выздоровевшую кошку продолжают кормить так, чтобы состав рациона приближался к диетическому. Диетические корма эффективны также для предотвращения заболеваний мочевых путей, связанных с аммониево-магниевыми фосфатами, причем эффективны настолько, что животные, которых правильно кормят, не болеют совсем.
New research. Thanks to his research, professor at the University of Columbus (Ohio, USA) Tony Buffington opened new perspectives related to the treatment of the syndrome. The disease was named more accurately - lesion of the lower urinary tract (ABAU). This term refers to a number of urological pathologies that are characterized by various symptoms, such as frequent and painful urination, the presence of blood in the urine (hematuria). Sometimes the only sign of a disease in an animal may be more than a liter of urine.
The causes of ABAU are numerous: bacterial urinary tract infection, tumors, anatomical abnormalities, urolithiasis (urolithiasis), or idiopathic cystitis.
Bacterial urinary tract infections are rare in cats. Tumors and anatomical abnormalities are removed surgically, if possible. Even a healthy cat's urine contains different amounts of struvite crystals; only increased crystal content can be a sign of ABAU, although not always.
The presence of stones (urolithiasis) is not always accompanied by the presence of crystals in the urine in suspension. Since the introduction of oxidizing agents in food, the number of cats affected by struvite stones has decreased significantly.
With an excessive content of acidic substances in the feed, calcium oxalate crystals begin to form, osteomalacia (resorption of bone tissue) develops and the growth of the animal decreases. Therefore, medicated feeds aimed at dissolving stones should be used under the supervision of a veterinarian, and in no case should any feed be left freely available for a long time.
If dry food is suitable for a healthy cat, then the animal suffering from urolithiasis should be provided with such food, in which the cat would consume more liquid.
In more than 60% of cases, none of the named reasons can obviously be considered guilty of the appearance of ABAU; the sick animal suffers essentially from idiopathic cystitis (CI). This disease is known in humans (especially women), but it also affects cats of all ages and both sexes. The disease consists of phases of recovery and manifestation of symptoms again; in cats, it is mostly associated with poor living conditions.
The diagnosis is clarified using ultrasound and the results of the study of the animal's urine. In idiopathic cystitis, specific nervous disorders are noted, in which the mucous membrane of the bladder loses its protective layer. So stress plays a major role in the onset of idiopathic cystitis. The causes of stress are different: housing conditions, change of food, type of bedding, crowdedness, overcrowding, and in addition, there are reasons that are known only to the cat itself.
Treatment of cystitis is carried out in the following areas: suppression of putrefactive microflora in the urinary bladder, improving the living conditions of a sick animal, prescribing antidepressants, selection of wet food or dry food, but with moisture content, which the cat will eat.
Thus, the variety of causes of ABAU, and the complexity, and sometimes the impossibility of effective treatment with medication and feed, explains that veterinarians have not yet come to a generally accepted and effective treatment method.
Surgery is the cat's last chance with urethral obstruction.In some cases, neutered and non-castrated cats have urethral obstruction due to the accumulation of "sand" with particles of various configurations and protein substances. Urine is passed with great difficulty, overflowing the bladder, or not at all. The sick animal is in a depressed state, tries to curl up into a ball, experiences intense pain on palpation of the abdomen due to the expansion of the bladder. In case of a blow or careless handling of a cat, a rupture of the bladder may occur in a day or two without veterinary assistance. The decay products contained in urine enter the body, and urinary intoxication occurs. The only solution to this problem is surgery; the surgeon catheterizes the lower urinary tract (the area of the urethra in the penis).
This surgery is risky; in the most severe cases of intoxication, it may be necessary to empty the bladder through the abdominal cavity and postpone the operation. Subsequent local operations may take longer. Unfortunately, some mistakes in treatment can lead the cat to a severe form of blockage of the urethra, when surgery becomes simply necessary.
Catherine Kretz, translation from French by Olga Mishchiha, magazine "Friend" (cats)
Editor: Veterinarian, Ph.D. V. Aronov - tel.: (812) 923-86-80, mob. +7 (911) 923-86-80.