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Dealing with cystitis in cats

Q Recently, my cat had a couple of urine tests carried out as he was suffering from cystitis. The tests revealed that his urinary pH was high. As my cat is a very fussy eater, a diet to lower his pH probably wouldn't work. Is there another way to lower it?

Vet Andrea Harvey advises: Cystitis is a multi-factorial condition and diet is merely one of the factors we need to focus on.

Cats should naturally produce a slightly acidic urine with a pH of 6.2 to 6.4 (under 7 is acid, over 7 is alkaline, 7 is called pH neutral). Using chemical acidifiers (such as the drug methionine) to lower your cat's urinary pH can be harmful in other ways and it can also be difficult to get the pH just right this way, so I would not advise it.

Have you tried special diets such as Hill's Feline c/d? This is very palatable and is available in dry or wet versions in a choice of chicken or fish.

Other things to consider that do not actually affect urinary pH but can help control the clinical signs of cystitis are:

1. Your cat's body weight - overweight cats wee less and have a greater chance of getting cystitis.

2. How much he drinks - get a water fountain and provide water bowls all over the house. Try using a large ceramic bowl, not a plastic or steel one, as this has been shown to help cats drink more.

3. The number of litter trays you have - one per cat, plus one spare is best.

4. The type of litter you use - some cats prefer different litter types and so will more favourably wee on these types. Weeing more often limits cystitis.

5. Feline facial pheromones (Feliway) to help de-stress your cat - ask your vet if this would help too.

I would suggest you go back to your vet to see if you can get more help to prevent the recurrence of cystitis.