Serving Up Health: 5 Feline Illnesses That Can Be Controlled With Diet

You are what you eat, and so is your cat. A balanced diet keeps the body's functions humming along, but as that body ages, tweaks in nutrient intake can be pivotal in controlling many of the health conditions that arise. Find out which five of the most commonly diagnosed feline health problems can be controlled through diet so that if your furry friend is diagnosed with one of them, you and your veterinarian can discuss the most beneficial nutrition plan to preserve your cat's quality of life.

1. Chronic Renal Failure

Also referred to as kidney disease, chronic renal failure occurs as the result of normal wear and tear on your cat's kidneys. This leads to deterioration of the kidneys and a steady decline in their ability to carry out their toxin filtration tasks. In the past, traditional blood panels did not detect kidney disease until the kidneys had already degenerated by 75 percent. A newer test has enabled veterinarians to diagnose kidney disease earlier in its progression. Switching your cat's diet during the early stage of kidney disease will not cure the condition, but it can slow the rate of deterioration. Several pet food manufacturers produce prescription foods with the following alterations to help your cat's kidneys function more efficiently:

  • Low protein content
  • Low sodium content
  • Reduced phosphorus content

2. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a disease in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. There was a time when the only treatment options for cats with hyperthyroidism were oral pills to be administered daily for life, surgery or radioiodine treatment. While the latter option is an effective cure for hyperthyroidism, many pet owners prefer to try a more conservative treatment option. A prescription diet is now available to assist in lowering the production of thyroid hormone. This diet has the following beneficial changes in nutritional content:

  • Reduced iodine
  • Low sodium
  • Reduced phosphorus

3. Feline Diabetes Mellitus

If your cat is obese, she is at risk for developing feline diabetes mellitus, a condition in which her pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to metabolize glucose, resulting in a high glucose level in her bloodstream. Prescription diets on the veterinary market are effective in achieving healthy weight loss and achieving diabetic remission by controlling blood glucose levels. These foods are similar to the Atkin's diet for humans and address the following dietary requirements of the diabetic cat:

  • High in protein
  • Low in carbohydrates

4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a collective group of conditions in which the gastrointestinal tract is chronically inflamed. Food allergies to commonly used protein and carbohydrate sources are common culprits. Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease includes a prescription diet. Some diets that your veterinarian may recommend include the following:

  • Novel protein diet, which contains a protein source and a carbohydrate source that your cat has not previously been exposed to in her diet
  • High fiber diets that are low in fat and easier on your cat's digestive system

5. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is the collective term for conditions that pose serious problems to your cat's urinary bladder and urethra. One of the common causes of FLUTD is the formation of uroliths, or urinary stones, which can migrate from the bladder and become lodged in the urethra, causing a life-threatening urinary obstruction. If your cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD as a result of uroliths, your veterinarian will prescribe a diet that dissolves struvite stones and prevents the future formation of calcium oxalate stones by maintaining a healthy urinary pH level. These diets are formulated with the following characteristics:

  • Reduced magnesium levels
  • Reduced calcium levels
  • Reduced phosphorus levels

The aforementioned conditions may require supplemental treatment to effectively reduce your cat's symptoms and prevent secondary problems. In some cases, however, dedicated owners and veterinarians are able to work together to reduce their feline friends' symptoms and control their medical conditions with prescription diets alone. In the case of chronic kidney disease, which is a degenerative condition, this bonus is temporary. No matter which of these conditions your cat has been diagnosed with, she will need to be tested and monitored periodically to ensure that additional treatment does not need to be introduced at a later time. In the meantime, the possibility of sparing your cat the stress of daily pill struggles, insulin injections or subcutaneous fluid therapy simply by altering her menu is a winning scenario that you and your cat will greatly appreciate.

Visit an animal hospital like Lamb's Gap Animal Hospital for more information.