Oliver: The Journey to Recovery from Struvite Crystals and FLUTD

Hi everyone,

It’s me Oliver here today! Some of you may have already heard that I wasn’t so well a few weeks back…

My humans noticed on their day off that I went to the toilet not once or twice but loads of times within an hour! Of course being who they are they immediately rushed me to the vet for a check-up.

Oh how much I hate trips to the vet… but I was in a lot of pain so I gave in quickly to the hated item called the cat carrier…

The vet wasn’t our usual one which stressed me out even more… but it had to be done regardless and eventually the vet decided that I needed to have an x-ray and ultrasound check as well as a urine sample taken.

From this the vet figured out that I developed a stone in my bladder which caused a lower urinary tract infection and that I also had a lot of struvite crystals in my urine which explained the many painful trips to my quiet place. 🙁

The vet luckily decided from the x-ray and ultrasound checks that the stone wasn’t blocking me up nor was it very big so they put me on a special cat food diet to break down the crystals in my urine and the bladder stone.

Oliver: Human… You forgot to put out my medicine food. (Which I am not looking forward to!)

Renegade: What is this special food?!? Can I have some too please!

Oliver: No you may not… this is for me to help break down a stone.

Renegade: A what? Why would food help with that…

Oliver: It’s special food that makes our urine more acidic in order to break down struvite stones in bladders!

Renegade: It’s a pretty big bag… Surely you’ll share this with me and Nubia…

Nubia: You mean you want to scoff it all up?!?

Oliver: Will you two just let me eat now! :O

Oliver: I wasn’t convinced at first because most things that the vet recommends either taste horrible or have to be thrown down my throat (pills ugh!)

Oliver: Luckily this one tasted very nice! My humans even managed to figure out that despite the replacement to our normal vet saying only she can sell it that Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Urinary Dry S/O was also available through places such as Animed Direct. What was even more surprising was that it was much more cost effective through them than from our veterinary practice. And it even came with free delivery as their order was over 29£. 🙂

Renegade: Nubia! Oliver seems finished with the food! Quick let’s steal it all muahahaha

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Renegade: *Munch munch* This is yummy…

Oliver: *Sigh* The problem in multi cat households is that siblings will often steal the food that’s not meant to be for them… Luckily this one is not dangerous for those that shouldn’t have it just means our humans will have to order an extra large bag. 😉

Renegade: Sis! I wasn’t finished with it!

Nubia: Yes you were… this is my turn now you little gourmand!!!

Oliver: Anyhow… Let’s get into some tips and advice on how to deal with this disease in the first place!

Our friends International Cat Care have a pretty good page on advice for Feline Lower Urinary tract disease but we wanted to summarise some of their tips for you here.

Which cats are most at risk of FLUTD?

  • Older / Middle aged cats
  • Those that are neutered
  • Overweight cats (which luckily the vet confirmed I am not!)
  • Cats that don’t do much exercise (Wait are they calling me lazy???)
  • Cats with no or very little access to the outside world (This sadly applies to many cats in large cities like London)
  • Cats that mainly or solely eat dry food (But I love my dry food!!!)

How do you check if a cat has FLUTD?

  • Urinalysis – This is one of the things our vet did. She took a urine sample to see if there were any signs of crystals or bacteria infection present in my urine. Of course this is how she found the spiky and painful crystals! (Picture below not from my own urine but to give you an idea of what they look like under the microscope)
Image Source: Pinterest
  • X-Rays – Another important step in identifying if your feline friend has a bladder stone which will often show up on these. And of course it did in mine. 🙁
This are the different types of stones that can be present in pets. Image Source: Arkvet
  • Ultrasound – This is not always performed but our vet wanted to do this in order to ensure that there was nothing else wrong with my bladder such as thickening of the bladder lining.
  • Biopsies – Sometimes a biopsy may be necessary to obtain a tissue sample of the bladder, especially if the vet suspects a tumour growth but luckily in my case this wasn’t needed.

How do you treat FLUTD?

This is not quite a straightforward process as it’s not a single disease but can be caused by a variety of factors such as my bladder stone. Hence why it is paramount to find the root cause of the problem first.

Some of the causes for FLUTD are:

  • Bacterial cystitis which can be treated through antibacterial therapies
  • Urolithiasis (bladder stones) which may need to be surgically removed or as in my case through special food to break down the struvite stone
  • Urethral plugs this is one of the most dangerous causes as basically a stone has moved far enough down to stop your feline companion from being able to go to their quiet place for relieving themselves. These must be removed under a general anesthetic to ensure no further damage is done to the urethra and often your companion will be hospitalised for a few days to monitor them and reduce further stress and discomfort. Additionally vets are most likely going to prescribe a wet food diet to ensure greater water intake and prevent another occurrence of this.
  • There are also more (rarer) conditions which you can find over at the International Cat Care website in the full article on how to deal with FLUTD.

Luckily in my case we were able to go for the food option rather than having to have a surgery (thank the cat lord!). Ideally the wet would have liked to get me on the wet food version of the special food from Royal Canin but my humans know jus too well that I will refuse to get my white fur dirty with wet food muck hence why they settled for the dry cat food version of the Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Feline Urinary S/O.

The benefits of this special diet food are:

  • Struvite dissolution – My main problem! The dreaded stone in my bladder that needs to disappear already
  • Urine dilution – By diluting my urine it also reduces the concentration of struvites and calcium oxalates the main reason apart from the stone itself that it got so painful to go for a wee. :(. Of course having to go more often for my necessary trip to the quiet place because of this ensures my bladders gets washed out more frequently
  • Low RSS – This apparently changes the environment in my insides so that it’s more difficult for these pesky crystals to form and annoy me.
  • Bladder support – Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) (this human word is far too big for me as a cat! o.O) but apparently these are usually on the mucosa of my bladder but can decrease with idiopathic cystitis. A decrease in this natural protection can cause the bladder to be more susceptible to bacteria, toxins and ions, which can lead to things like bladder inflammation and this can cause your feline companion even more pain if not dealt with. Hence why this food is so important during the recovery period.
  • Low in Magnesium – This food is purposely low in magnesium as that is one of the key components to struvite crystals so the less that is present the better during the recovery phase!

Top Tips:

One of the most common reasons for struvite crystals in cats is long term dehydration which causes the PH of our urine to change. Many cats like me LOVE dry food but if at all possible you should try and at least mix and match this with wet food!

Additionally if your cat is primarily on a dry food diet ensure they have access to plenty of water and maybe think about getting a water fountain instead of a stagnant water bowl. Even better would be to place a few around our homes. 🙂

The good news is that I am much better now and on the way to recovery. My check-up with the vet lady will be in December to see if the special diet has broken down the stone and if there are any struvite crystals left in my urine.

That’s it for me today but I am sure me and my humans will be back to Animed Direct to get some more of this food while I am recovering! Or maybe even explore some of their other goodies. 🙂

Signed by,

His Meowjesty King Oliver the Maker of Mischief and Sensei of Cat Wisdom!

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49 thoughts on “Oliver: The Journey to Recovery from Struvite Crystals and FLUTD

  1. franhunne4u says:

    The tom of my cousin, indoor only cat, had so much problems with crystals despite being on a diet, they had to amputate his penis. After that there were no further problems – though it took him some time to use the toilet again properly.

          • franhunne4u says:

            It is nothing a cat owner would want from the vet – but sometimes it is unavoidable.
            YOUR shivers come from being a male, too, I suppose. I would not like to have my late tom’s penis amputated, but if he ever had been in constant pain from the crystals despite a change of diet and medicine – well, I would have done what my cousin did for her tom …

          • Marc-André says:

            Yep that’s very true. It’s probably more of an intense shiver for me because of that. ?

            But you are right. If it’s a choice between constant pain or that, then there is only one right choice.

  2. maryltonks says:

    Very serious condition, especially in our boys. I had to deal with this a few years ago, but knowing the odd behavior of running to the litter box, but not “doing” anything, then running back again saved my Ping from trouble. He was very lucky to have passed the struvite crystals while the vet was trying to get a urine sample. Never had a recurrence, thank goodness!

  3. chrisscatmeow says:

    Years ago I had Oscar a big beautiful ginger boy and he was diagnosed with exactly the same thing I was so worried but like Oliver he was put on a special dry food diet which worked wonders. Poor you,Oliver wishing you a speedy recovery.x??

  4. angela1313 says:

    Poor Oliver. That is so painful. Thank goodness the stone wasn’t blocking. Especially in a boy, it is very dangerous . I long ago got my cats to eat wet food. They were for the most part rescued from outside and wet food seemed good after pizza crusts and such scraps from trash bins, but even the three I inherited from a roommate who fed mostly dry came around. I am glad now, since they all are senior and more prone to urinary and kidney problems. They also have a nice ceramic water fountain which they use regularly.

    • Marc-André says:

      I wish we could get all three of ours to eat more wet food but it’s difficult as Oliver LOVES the noise dry food makes. ?

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  8. sidilbradipo1 says:

    Hope Oli will recover soon 😀
    Our old Angora had the same problem: after a week he was well again. Hill’s Urinary S/O for the rest of his life. They are great treats with a delicious taste!
    Pawkisses <3

  9. erin says:

    Ouch!! Poor Oliver.. I’m so glad you caught it early and managed to get Oliver on the s/o food. It can be so frustrating dealing with kitty urine problems and it is no fun for anyone when a cat gets blocked. I hope the special diet continues to prevent further problems and its great to see the other little ones love it, too!

    • Marc-André says:

      Yes we are very lucky that he eats it. We were a bit worried that he’d refuse the “medicine” ? luckily this food must be really tasty to them. 🙂

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