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Is it safe to mix vet dry food with a store bought dry

Published on: December 05, 2023 • By: Mindymarie · In Forum: Cats
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Mindymarie
Participant
December 05, 2023 at 11:54pm
my cats are currently are on RC s/o dry food. They have been on it for years and were only put on it as we thought one of the cats had been getting UTIs but it ended up being idiopathic cystitis. I will mention that one of our other cats has gotten a UTI last year and this year, even though she eats this dry food.  They seem to be getting less interested in this dry food so I'm wondering if I can mix this vet food with another urinary dry food from a pet store, or is it best to mix it with a non urinary dry food, so they are at least still getting the urinary dry food from the vet   Thanks
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Keymaster
December 06, 2023 at 10:19am
Hello - UTI is a term that we used to think described what we now call idiopathic cystitis.  Since I became a vet 20 years ago, the profession has found out a lot more about this disease and we now know that over 90% of the time, it is not caused by an infection, hence the change of name (and we no longer give out antibiotics for it, which we used to think was the right treatment!)   Special diets have been shown to reduce crystal formation in the urine, but it has never been so clear cut as 'you feed this food and your cat will never get cystitis.'  If your cat is less interested in the food than they used to be, I woud be interested to understand why; is it that they are getting on in years and their appetite is waning?  (Teenage cats sonetimes eat and use more energy than middle aged cats).  Are they getting dental disease?  Are their bones or pancreas beginning to hurt?   If a cat's appetite reduces, you could indeed persuade them to eat more by giving them something tastier / highly palatable, but this is missing the point - why are they eating less?  What is wrong?  We would reccommend feeding the same food and keeping track of their weight.  If they are eating enough to maintain their weight, thats great - its just their metabolism that has changed.  If they are losing weight (most vets weigh cats at every examination / booster for reference and will keep a record), your vet may want to look for an underlying cause.   Its quite common for owners to say 'my cat's getting fed up of this food' but generally, if a cat's been eating the same thing for ages and starts to go off it to the extent that they lose weight, there is an underlying medical reason for that and this early warning sign should not be ignored by giving the cat a more palatable (and often less healthy) food.   Remember: If I had a tummy ache and didnt want to eat, I wouldnt eat my normal food, but if you offered me something with more fat in it, like chocolate ice- cream, I might be tempted!
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Keymaster
December 06, 2023 at 10:22am
Two more things to say about this:  the first is that the petfood industry is very poorly regulted.  I can put anything in a bag and call it 'urinary diet,' but there is no proof that it provides good urinary support.  The veterinary urinary brands supported by your vet should have good science behind them.   Supermarket brands do not have this.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Keymaster
December 06, 2023 at 10:25am
The last point is that, increasingly these days,vets are hitting on other lifestyle changes that help cystitis cats, for example:  where litter trays are placed, controlling stress levels and water intake.   Its a good idea to ask your vet about these lifestyle factors because they may also help with the occurance of feline cystitis and many of them are free!  You can read about feline cytitis in our blog and by looking up icatcare online, who are a trusted source of information.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Keymaster
December 06, 2023 at 10:27am
I hope that something there helps
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Mindymarie
Participant
December 06, 2023 at 01:57pm
They are healthy cats.  I believe the not interested as much is just due to eating the same thing every single day. I mean If I ate the same food everyday for 10+ years, I'd get pretty tired of it too and not want it as much. I want to be able to give them something different/variety but still healthy. Even just mixing the urinary food with a non urinary that was a flavor of interest
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Keymaster
December 06, 2023 at 07:02pm
I actually think it odd that your cat was on the same food for years and has only suddenly, now, out of the blue, decided that they want a change.  As humans, we are conditioned to think that it is normal to eat a varied diet, but if you look around the animal kingdom in general, this is not particularly common and is not thought to be something that cats seek out for its own sake. For this reason, we would strongly recommend checking for underlying conditions before assuming that a cat simply 'wants a change,' particularly if it is a new behaviour.  In many medical conditions, a reduced interest in food is the first sign an owner gets that their cats may be experiencing pain.  Cats are not adapted for group living in the same way that dogs or humans are; they do not bring attention to pain through their behaviour to the same extent.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Keymaster
December 06, 2023 at 07:38pm
The occurence of crystals in cats is multifactoral and a reduction in stress can be a huge advtantage to preventing a blockage.  However, the s/o food is a prescription diet, one that may have been prescribed by your vet for the specific reason of preventing the formation of struvite crystals in the urine, which also plays a part in preventing a blockage.  Frequently this prescription can be reduced after a period of time if behavioural changes have been successful.  Reducing the diet and watching to see if the patient gets seriously ill may be one way of managing this, but it strikes me as a crude technique.  It sounds as though you and your vet need to meet and discuss a safe compromise.
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