Shae here: If you have ever been to our store, I’m sure you’ve heard us stress the importance of moisture in a cat’s diet - cats, having evolved from desert animals were never designed to have a strong thirst drive, but are meant to get almost all of their required daily intake of moisture from their meat (meat is 70% water).
When I first started working at Bailey Blu, I didn’t realize the importance of feeding a diet high that was moisture rich. My cats, Cha Cha and LeRoux, were both on high quality grain free kibble - they also got some canned food in the evening, but the bulk of their diet was kibble. And because I would see my cats drink water here and there, and because I was giving them some canned food, I didn’t think twice about their water intake.
And then it happened. Lo and behold, only after a few weeks of working at Bailey Blu, my well-mannered Cha Cha, who had been litter trained since his first week at home with us, started peeing in random places around the house. The house started to reek of cat urine, and we had to wash every cloth surface in the house multiple times. At first we thought it was behavioral, but it quickly became apparent that it was physiological instead: we started finding streaks of blood in his urine, and would catch him struggling to urinate in the strangest of places. We rushed Cha Cha to our vet immediately.
After a weekend’s stay at the vet, involving x-rays and a urinalysis, we were given a diagnosis of ‘Lower Urinary Tract Disease’. LUTD is very common in cats who are fed kibble - it is often a result of chronic low grade dehydration and stress to the bladder and kidneys due to lack of moisture. My vet also found unusually large urinary crystals, which my cat was unable to pass or break down - while tiny crystals are naturally present in all feline bladders, a cat that is not getting enough moisture from their diet, or a cat that is given a species inappropriate diet, can end up with a build up of crystals that they are not able to pass naturally. This can ultimately lead to cystitis and hematuria (blood in the urine due to irritation of the bladder lining), or in more extreme cases, complete blockages of the urethra. This prompted me to switch my cats completely over to Raw by Bailey Blu.
The vet recommended that Cha Cha be switched over to a vet wet food (sold exclusively in clinics) to prevent future flare-ups. A little research on my part revealed that vet wet foods chemically change the pH balance of a cat’s urine so that it is more acidic and thus able to break down the crystals in their urine; but this is also something that can be achieved naturally by giving a species appropriate diet of all raw meat. After a two-week transition from kibble to wet, and wet to raw, I noticed huge differences in my cats, especially in Cha Cha. Within a couple of days, he no longer had trouble urinating. He was still associating pain with his litter box, which made us purchase a second one of a different shape (without a hood), which we got him to start using. After that, accidents became less frequent, his urine stopped smelling so strongly of ammonia, and we found him urinating in larger, healthier amounts. Finally, our house stopped smelling like a litter box (hurrah!), and Cha Cha was back to his dignified self.
If you’ve ever come into the store while I’ve been working, you’ve likely heard me discussing this chronic condition that Cha Cha had been suffering from until recently. My coworkers often joke that the mention of “lower urinary tract disease” is my “thing” as I somehow manage to bring it up in any conversation regarding a species appropriate diet and the importance of water in a cat’s diet. But with all jokes aside, I definitely believe that my experience with this very painful and uncomfortable condition is something that all cat owners should take as a cautionary tale. Since Cha Cha has been on Raw by Bailey Blu, he has had only one flare up, which was caused by stress (little guy got accidentally locked outside for a whole day; my landlord did not see that he had escaped onto the balcony whilst he was fixing a door). In addition to preventing Cha Cha’s condition from developing any further, the change in their diet has also worked as a preventative so that my other cat, LeRoux, does not develop this condition at all.
Cha Cha (left) & his bestie LeRoux (right).