In our last care sheet we talked about a common problem with cats: kidney problems. Cats are susceptible to another problem, called feline lower urinary tract disease, FLUTD. It is not a specific disease, but a term used to describe any number of conditions that can affect cat’s urinary bladder and/or urethra.
FLUTD, formerly known as FUD, is one of the more common diseases seen in cats. Any cat can get it, but it does seem to be more common if the cat is older, neutered, over-weight, or eats a dry kibble diet.
- Increased frequency of using the litter box
- Urinating outside of the litter box or in unusual places. This can be caused by pain and irritation that causes an urgent need to go and they cannot get to their liter boxes in time.
- Difficulty, straining, or pain when going to the bathroom, due to the inflammation.
- Over grooming and hair loss, especially around their perineum. Many cats will over groom and lick themselves as a way to deal with the pain associated with FLUTD.
- Blood in the urine. Blood in the urine may be microscopic (only detectable by your vet using tests) or may be more severe and obvious (you may see red discoloration of the urine).
Causes of FLUTD:
Bladder stones – These stones can form because of an imbalance in a cat’s pH and from a build-up of magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite) and calcium oxalate crystals. This is less common in cats now, as most diets are formulated with limited magnesium and designed to produce acidic urine.
Bacterial infections – Bacterial infections causes a lot of inflammation but it’s relatively uncommon in cats, although it is seen more frequently in older cats.
Urethral plugs – A buildup of proteins, cells, crystals, and debris in the urine can build up and form a plug that cannot be passed. The severe inflammation from another issue can cause muscle spasms, which block off the urethra.
In rare cases, a tumor might be the culprit. It’s more common in older cats that have a history of inflammation and trouble urinating.
Idiopathic – Up to 60 – 70% of cats have no underlying disease to explain why they have problems urinating.
Diagnosis and Treatments:
Because there can be a variety of causes, diagnosis of FLUTD can be difficult. A vet will run various tests, including urinalysis, blood work, and x-rays. Treatment all depends on the cause: a diet that increases acidity can help dissolve some stones, surgery may be needed to remove stones or plugs, or medications, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, may be proscribed. Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment is important, as FLUTD can be fatal in male cats.
- Feed small meals on a frequent basis.
- Provide clean, fresh water at all times.
- Provide an adequate number of litter boxes (usually one more than the number of cats in the household).
- Keep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house.
- Keep litter boxes clean.
- Minimize major changes in routine.
For regular readers of our care sheets, it should be no surprise to learn that one of the best things you can do to help prevent FLUTD is by feeding a high protein, grain free, high quality diet, especially raw and canned foods. The extra moisture in these styles of food is important for cats, as they typically do not drink enough water to maintain a healthy urinary system. Check out this care sheet for more details.
In cats that already have FLUTD caused by stones, avoid fish in their diet. Salmon and tuna are common sources of struvite crystals, and can exacerbate the inflammation already present.
FLUTD and other urinary problems can be a source of major aggravation for both you and your cat. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. A biologically appropriate diet is the foundation of great health for your feline friend. As always, stop by any time and talk about your cat’s nutritional needs with our staff!
You hear a lot of stories of older cats with kidney problems; kidney disease is the leading cause of death in domestic cats. You may have experienced this in your own life with your own pets. It’s a common problem for older cats, but it doesn’t have to be.
Cats are thought to have been domesticated from species living in western Asia and northern Africa. Cats are, originally, desert creatures, and typically do not have a big “thirst response”. While they do drink water, it’s usually not all that their bodies need. They evolved to obtain most of their moisture from their prey items. In the wild, rodents, lizards, and birds provide hydration, supplemented by drinking free standing water. Now look at our domesticated cats, keep indoors and feed a diet mostly of dry kibble. After all, we’ve always heard that dry food keeps a cat’s teeth clean and canned food makes their teeth get weak. But it turns out a lifetime of this diet can slowly dehydrate them, eventually leading to an older cat with those dangerous kidney problems.
There are several things that you can do to help prevent these problems later in life:
Use a cat water fountain. Cats are much more likely to drink water that is in motion – we’ve all seen cats drink from faucets. Moving water tends to feel colder, and cat drinking fountains have built in filters to help it stay cleaner than still, stagnant water. We love the Cat it Fountain; it’s a great way to increase their water consumption. Check it out here.
Place several water dishes around your house. Cats are more likely to drink when there are multiple sources. Wider water dishes can get your cat to drink more, as they hate to have their whiskers touching anything, even the side of their dishes.
Add water, or something tasty like low sodium chicken or beef broth, to their dry kibble. Allow it to sit for a few minutes for it to soften. The bowl should be picked up after a few hours to prevent the food from drying out and going bad. This is a good way to get fussier cats to eat, as it adds some flavor and the moisture releases the aroma of the food.
Better yet, switch them to canned food, as this contains higher levels of moisture. Dry cat food contains around 8-10% moisture content, while canned food can be as high as 80%. You do need to feed more than dry food, but this gives them the water how their bodies expect to get it. There’s another reason to go to wet food: Your cat’s teeth are actually sharp and angled, having evolved to shear meat, not flat to grind dry kibble. In fact, when you hear cats crunching their dinner, they are actually breaking up the kibble with the roof of their mouth. So it’s not only easier for them to eat, but it effectively gives them that vital moisture. For older cats, some people will even add extra moisture, water or broth, to their canned food to make it even soupier.
By far the best diet for your cat and hydration is raw food. This food is the closest thing to their natural diet. It has not been altered with heat or friction, which preserves the innate vitamins and minerals, along with essential amino acids and enzymes (processed kibbles have these added back to the food after cooking them out.) Two of our favorites are Stella & Chewey’s and Nature’s Variety.
Cats are about 60% water, and they must have continual hydration to maintain this level. Symptoms of dehydration in cats are lethargy, dry gums and eyes, and skin that stays peaked when you lift a fold. Severe dehydration is a matter for your vet to address, as intravenous fluids may be needed. Giving fluids in a more natural way can help keep your cat well hydrated and out of the vet’s office. Try offering water in a variety of ways; your cat will definitely let you know what they like!
“Cats are notoriously fussy when it comes to their food. And it isn’t just to test your patience. It’s biological. Cats are true carnivores. As such, nature demands they eat a diet based on animal proteins to thrive. That’s why our Physiologically Correct™ recipes always start with meats rich in complete proteins as the main ingredient. But it wouldn’t matter how nutritious our food is if your cat won’t eat it, so we tailor the taste of our recipes based on actual feline feedback to ensure it’s equally delicious. When we say our food is Co-Created by Cats, it isn’t just a slogan, it’s the secret to everything we make.”
Available in 6 canned recipes
Cats are notoriously fussy when it comes to their food. And it isn’t just to test your patience. It’s biological. Cats are true carnivores. As such, nature demands they eat a diet based on animal proteins to thrive. That’s why our Physiologically Correct™ recipes always start with meats rich in complete proteins as the main ingredient. But it wouldn’t matter how nutritious our food is if your cat won’t eat it, so we tailor the taste of our recipes based on actual feline feedback to ensure it’s equally delicious. When we say our food is Co-Created by Cats, it isn’t just a slogan, it’s the secret to everything we make.”
Available in 3 dry and over 13 canned recipes, so there is something your cat is sure to like!
Now that spring is (finally) here, the trees and the grass are turning green again, and we start to see a problem that we didn’t have in the winter – yellow burn spots on our nice green lawns from dog pee.
The biggest culprit of burn marks is the ammonia (NH3) in your dog’s urine, which breaks down into its two components, nitrogen and hydrogen. While nitrogen is actually utilized as a fertilizer by plants, when it is too concentrated in one area it stops the grass from absorbing water and nutrients. (You’ll often notice burn marks surrounded by lush grass; this is because on the edges the nitrogen is being diluted and then used as fertilizer.) The problem gets worse if you’re already using a high nitrogen fertilizer on your lawn.
The extra hydrogen ions released also change the pH of the soil, damaging the grass. Metallic salts and other compounds in the urine will also affect your lawn’s ability to take up nutrients properly.
Contrary to popular thought, female dogs don’t have a different kind of pee, or a more acidic one, that makes burn marks worse. It’s just that males often lift their legs to mark high on something in multiple locations, where females crouch on the ground. This means more urine is concentrated in an area, making the yellow marks worse.
But don’t stress, we have the solutions!
Dog Rocks – When these first came in, we were highly skeptical, as were many of our customers. And these are one of the most effective and popular solutions we carry! These naturally mined rocks from Australia help reduce the compounds in dog urine that ruin your lawn. Simply place in their water source for it to go to work. Get more details and instructions on how to use here. Note: if your dog is on a high protein diet, they are producing more ammonia than normal, and the Dog Rocks may not be enough. For best results, combine with one of the following products.
NaturVet Grass Saver – This is a great tasting supplement that helps protect your lawn. This contains natural amino acid that can change the acidity of your dog’s urine, helping to spare your lawn. See their page here.
Earth’s Balance G-Whiz Lawn Saver – This water additive contains amino acids to help your dog utilize process proteins, reducing ammonia and the pH of their urine. It also helps reduce bad breath, body, and fecal odors.
Earth’s Balance Dogonit Lawn Rejuvinator – Used on the lawn, this helps heal spots already burned by dog urine (so it’s GREAT to use when it’s not your dog’s spots). It also safely and naturally helps correct toxic soil conditions caused by synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, so pet owners can look forward to a healthier and better looking lawn.
A few tips to help:
Water the area your dog goes pee in. A simple rinse of 15 – 30 seconds after they pee will help dilute the ammonia and prevent the grass from being damaged. Carrying some water in a water bottle will help protect other’s lawns when you’re going for a walk.
Train your pet to only eliminate in an area with trees or rocks, a simple solution that many people don’t consider.
With the right tools, your lawn will stay green and gorgeous all summer long!
This is all too common in the spring. In Illinois, you need to be a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to care for wild orphaned animals, but many are overwhelmed at this time of year with rescues and can be difficult to get in contact with. If you need to care for truly orphaned baby rabbits while you get them to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator, read this article for help.
It often appears that the mother has abandoned her babies, but that is not usually the case. Mother rabbits will ignore their nest and babies all day, only going back to the nest to feed her kits twice a night – by doing so helps prevent predators from finding the babies. Her milk is high in fat and protein, to help her babies get through the day. If you have found a nest of abandoned babies, check their temperature: if they are warm or their stomach is full of milk, mom has not abandoned them, so it’s best to leave them alone.
*Note: It is OKAY that you have touched these rabbits with your bare hands. Mom does NOT care. We don’t abandon our kids when they smell funny, and neither do Momma Rabbits!
If their eyes are open, are about 5 – 7”, and they are about the size of a softball, they are old enough to care for themselves, and it is best to leave them alone. If the nest has been disturbed, just rebuild it as best you can. Try to keep pets away from that area until the babies have weaned (about a month). You can lay some string or grass across the top of a nest and return the next day to be sure momma is returning.
If their eyes are still closed or they are cold, it is time to take action until you can get them to a rehabilitator.
What you need:
- Kitten Milk Replacement powder or liquid
- Probiotics (like BeneBac) Syringe/medicine dropper/bottle
- Heating pad – Reptile heaters are perfect.
- Pedialyte (if the baby is dehydrated)
Provide a warm nesting area in either a bucket or Kritter Keeper. Use clean towels to make a soft nest, and place the heating pad underneath half the nest (so they can get away from the heat if needed.) Mix KMR powder as directed or use canned and add a little goat milk or heavy cream to increase the fat and protein content. Add a pinch of probiotics, to help ensure they have healthy gut flora. Refrigerate the unused portion, gently warming what you need each time – don’t feed it cold. How to feed: Check to see if the baby is dehydrated: pinch the skin between your fingers and release; if it snaps back, they’re fine. If it stays peaked up, they’re dehydrated and need frequent small amounts of unflavored Pedialyte. Baby rabbits feed from their mothers while lying on their backs. You may loosely wrap baby in a soft face cloth or hand towel and lay it on your lap or in the crook of your arm. If bunny will NOT eat this way, you can try feeding them slightly upright. Feed them slowly, watching them lick and swallow so they do not aspirate. It is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to let the baby eat at its own pace— especially if it is not suckling from the syringe willingly. If you squirt the liquid in too quickly you can aspirate (get liquid in) the lungs and the rabbit can suffocate. Feed twice a day, until their bellies are taught and full.
How much to feed:
Newborn to One Week (20 grams, no to little hair) : 2 – 2 1/2 cc/ml each feeding
1-2 weeks (40 grams, 4” long): 5-7 cc/ml each feeding 2-3 weeks (60 grams, 4 – 4.5” inches, hair standing up): 7-13 cc/ml each feeding
3-6 weeks (80 grams5 – 7”): 13-15 cc/ml each feeding (may be LESS depending on size of rabbit!)
After each feeding, it is important to make the bunny defecate and urinate (until their eyes are open) to keep the intestinal tract and urinary system running smoothly. Use a cotton ball moistened with warm water and gently stroke the anal area until the bunny starts producing stool and urine and keep stroking until the bunny stops. You are reproducing the behavior of the mother rabbit who would lick her young to stimulate them to go to the bathroom and to keep the nest clean.
Baby rabbit’s eyes open at about 14 days of age. Start introducing them to timothy and oat hay, pellets and water (always add fresh greens for wild ones–dandelion greens, parsley, carrot tops, , all freshly washed). Continue to offer hand feeding in addition to their fresh foods (just offer less).
Wild rabbits must be released, as they will never become domesticated. Release them away from homes, streets, and other animals when they are 4 weeks old – and about 5” long – into the wild where they truly belong.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center 630-942-6200
Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation at 847-602-0628 or 847-842-8000
Wildlife Hotline 855-WILD-HELP (855-945-3435)
Last time we talked about the problems and dangers of the most common pests in our area: fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and mites. But for truly effective control and prevention of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and mites, you need more help. We have the top products with vet recommended ingredients, and by using the following products, along with the practical steps in the last care sheet, you can tackle and beat infestations.
IMPORTANT: Dog formulas must never be used on cats, as they can have bad reactions to them. Always use the appropriate formula for the size/age of your pet.
There are a few different categories of active ingredients in these preventatives. Read more here.
This topic is enough to cause a lot of people to start itching, but, with the warmer weather coming, it’s something we all have to deal with. As we come out of winter, eggs of all sorts of insects are also beginning to come out of their winter wait. The big culprits:
Female mosquitoes looking for a meal is such a common occurrence during the summer. They breed in standing pools of water; eliminating them from around your house, including buckets, puddles, and bird baths, will reduce the population and reduce the risk of being bitten.
There are a wide variety of mites that affect your pet; from the fur mite that likes rabbits and hedgehogs to mange to ear mites, these tiny pests can cause a lot of irritation for your pet. You may notice your pet scratching more, or rubbing up against things in their cage. When you look closer at their skin, on the thinner scales on reptiles or under a small animal’s fur, you may notice small dots moving around. They can be light in color, brown, or dark red. They can come from anywhere: bedding and hay are natural sources of infestation, or they can even hitch a ride when coming in from outside.
Ticks are more commonly found when you and your pet have spent any time outdoors, especially in high grass or shrubs. These parasites attach to you or your pet, looking for a meal. Ticks are often first felt while petting your dog or cat. The best thing to do is prevent any association with a tick in the first place. When walking in wooded or grassy areas, wear long pants tucked into shoes and long sleeves; light colored ones make it easier to see ticks. Always carefully check both yourself and your dog after activity where ticks are common.
Did you know the Chicago has the distinction of being in a high flea problem area? Read more here . . .
We created KOHA Super Premium Dog and Cat food on the principal that clean food and great nutrition is an essential part of promoting a healthy & happy life.
The word “Koha” in New Zealand primarily means a “gift of food”.
Give your pet the gift of KOHA!
Clean Food For Your Pet
KOHA‘s Super Premium canned Dog and Cat Food offers a clean single sourced protein formula for a complete nutritional meal. We use only New Zealand sourced meat with the added beneficial ingredients of New Zealand Green Mussel for joint support and Pumpkin for digestive support. In KOHA’s canned dog food we’ve added Fish Oil for healthy skin & coat and in KOHA’s canned cat food we’ve added Cranberries to help maintain a healthy urinary tract.
Other KOHA benefits include:
- Single Sourced Animal Proteins from New Zealand
- Exotic proteins Excellent for pets with severe allergies
- Limited Ingredients/ No Fillers
- High Protein/Low in Carbs & No Starch
- NO Carrageenan
- NO grain or potato
- Natural Fruit & Veggie Fibers
- Low Ash Content
- A Complete & Balanced Meal”