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One of my boy cats was injured when he was a kitten and esxperienced soft tissue damage to one of his rear legs. After that, he had real problems urinating because he just couldn't squat properly and fully empty his bladder.
We first became aware of a major problem when we noticed he was moping round a lot, drinking really excessively, and not really urinating that much. He was getting himself more and more agitated. When we picked him up, if you put pressure round his bladder area he would urinate, so we realised it was a 'serious' problem requiring vetinary attention.
The vet informed us he had devoloped a urinary tract infection caused by having a build up of something called stryuvite crystals. The human equivalent is kidney stones. No wonder my poor boy was upset.
We were given treatment to break down his crystals and then advised that the best long term solution was to put him on a special diet to prevent further crystals forming. We were recommended the s/d brand of food from Hill's. This is a non-prescription diet which is low in protein. If a cat has problems with crystals too much protein in the diet can make it a lot more serious. We were also advised if we were in absolute desperate measures getting hold of this, we could feed him a senior cat food as this also has less protein in.
This s/d food comes in two forms for cats. You can get a wet meat version, which looks like a pate when you take it out of the tuna sized tin, or you can get the 2kg or 5 kg sacks of dry food. There is only one flavour available, which is a little bit boring for an animal, but when their health is at stake, then this wasn't a worry to me.
We decided the easiest thing for us was to put both cats on this diet. It would not harm our other cat. We also decided to go down the dry food route as our other cat has an inherited gum condition so it is better for his teeth to eat dry food.
For best cost efficiency we have always bought the 5kg sacks online, which are currently about £36 per bag if you shop around. Although this sounds a huge outlay, we were feeding one bag of this to 2 cats in round about a monthly period, so not too bad. (Initially we bought a tray of 24 cans of the meat, and the vet charged us £24, so i really recommend you shop around online if you are advised to use this food.)
Over the time my cat was on this diet, he had a couple of further kidney infections which were treat on an outpatient visit to the vets. Unfortunately my boy was not very well due to a lot of conflicting problems, so his kidneys did give in completely in January this year and we had to have him put to sleep.
This food has been used by us for 4 years, and in that time it has helped us manage his kidney problem until he got a bowel blockage on top. It is essential when providing a dry diet that cats also drink a lot, and my boy just didn't however much we tried to tempt him with cold fresh water on tap when he wanted it. It is quite an energy dense food, so you do not need as much as you think. At first my cat put on a lot of weight. At one point he was 9 kilos. Some of this was down to him not being that mobile, but some was because he was always pestering for more food. We had to be quite strict and measure it out according to the instructions given on the back of the pack.
The food is good quality. The pellets are all uniform in texture, size and appearance. They are brown in colour. I have noticed that even when they fall in the water bowl by accident they do not soak up that much water, so i can understand how it can lead to constipation. It has a long shelf date. My packages are always dated at least a year after purchase, and the bag is a tough plastic with a zipper at the top so it stays really fresh when you open it.
The only criticism of this food is that it makes the breath of your cat a bit smelly. After the other cat passed away we have started giving the other cat different foods, and we have noticed that his breath is no longer as pungent. I had previously thought his mouth smelt bad because of his gum problem, but now i think differently.
Overall, i have had little choice about what to feed my cat with a kidney complaint. I could have bought senior cat food from one of the other brands, but as the vet advised this food we stuck with it. Without it, our cat could have been put down a long time ago, or had to have a very expensive vet treatment, so on that basis i will recommend it. I just wish there was a better variety of flavours to provide more interest for the animal.
It is also available in a canine version, so if you are shopping online and see bigger tins, then please don't buy these for your cat. They won't eat it.