Control What You Can
When you have a cat with urinary issues, so much can seem frustrating and out of your control. There are, however, many things within your control, and these things can often make a huge difference!
Your veterinarian may recommend a prescription food to support your cat’s urinary health. These foods can even help with stress and weight management. If your cat experiences urinary issues secondary to stress or environment, there are additional things you can do to help. Let’s dive in.
A MEMO to Cats
The experts address feline environmental needs using the acronym MEMO (multimodal environmental modification). MEMO is a proven technique to help reduce urinary tract symptoms associated with stress and environment. You might be thinking, “Wait, how can my cat possibly be stressed? I feed him the best food, buy him the most fun toys, and have catified my entire house!” Cats experience their environment differently than we do. They experience stress differently than we do. Very small, simple things that go unnoticed by us – smells, sounds, sensations – can be very bothersome to our cats. When we feel stressed we may get an upset stomach. When cats get stressed, they get an upset bladder!
Cats appreciate routine and predictable interactions. Think about when your cat has a vet visit scheduled. They know long before you ever take out the carrier. They sense all of the small nuances that are out of the usual routine. They also enjoy positive reinforcement, like treats for a job well-done after playing or toothbrushing. If your cat is a bit timid, it will appreciate places to hide and rest when company comes over.
Cats are vertical, climbing creatures by nature. They appreciate every tree to climb, perch to jump up on, and walkway to strut. Windows that allow a view of the outdoors, especially birds and squirrels, are helpful. Cats appreciate having comfortable and safe places to eat, drink, sleep, hide, climb, and play. Smell is also very important. Please don’t use heavy perfumes, chemical cleaners, or air fresheners in your home if you don’t want to offend your cat.
Toys… lots of toys. Keeping a variety of toys with varying textures and sounds will help keep your cats engaged. Cats love to play with toys that help their inner predator come out to hunt! Soft beds at a variety of heights are excellent as well. As for litter boxes, make sure you have enough (at least one more than the number of cats you have). You may need to experiment with different types of litter, box styles, and locations to find out your cat’s preferences.
Additional Tools to Help with Stress
Feliway is quite possibly one of the best inventions every for cats! Feliway replicates cat phermones – scents their bodies produce to mark safe spaces and emit a sense of calm and security. By using these pheromones strategically around your home, you can recreate a calm and secure environment for your cat. Feliway comes in two formulations – classic for cats experiencing any type of stress, and multicat for cats experiencing stress because of other cats in the home. Feliway is available in a spray and plugin diffuser. For everyday use, I prefer the plugin diffuser because it continuously emits pheromones for 30 days. Spray lasts about 6 hours and is more helpful for a car ride or cat carrier.
The best part about Feliway is that it acts fast and does not have any negative side effects!
What About Supplements?
I don’t recommend urinary supplements for cats UNLESS they are part of the small minority who get urinary tract infections. If your cat suffers from urinary tract infections, VetriScience UT Strength Feline is a nice option. It’s cranberry extract supports optimal urine pH, and D-mannose helps flush bacteria from the bladder.
If your cat does not suffer from urinary tract infections but has urinary problems, supplements that address stress could be beneficial. My top pick in this category is Solliquin. This chewable treat has L-theanine to promote relaxation, magnolia and phellodendron to control anxiety, and a special whey protein that has high levels of tryptophan to promote calmness.
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