Pros: Has a cute commercial campaign with singing kitties.
Cons: Can kill your cat because it's not healthy or nutritious for them.
We all know and love the commercials for "Meow Mix" that are featured on television. Adorable kitties "ask for it by name" by singing a catchy meow mix tune, and the owners of course rush to the counter and pour their little furry friends a big bowl. What these people don't know, and what I didn't know up until a few days ago, is that dry food can end your cat's life at any early age or do serious internal damage to its organs.
Feline Urilogical Syndrome, or "FUS"
Feline Urilogical Syndrome is a disease that is fairly common in cats (mainly males), but many people have never heard of it or have any idea of what it is. FUS occurs when the cat's urinary tract is clogged with crystals, making it extremely painful or impossible for the cat to urinate. The urine then stays within the bladder, causing it to stretch immensely, and then leaking into the bloodstream and poisoning the cat with the toxins.
These crystals are caused by excess amounts of ash and magnesium in the cat's body, and have been linked to supermarket dry food diets, which are EXTREMELY high in both of these elements. It is very rare for a cat to get this disease if they are eating healthy, more expensive food recommended by the vet, but the vast majority of cats who get this malfunction are on a dry food diet. Coincidence? I think not.
Want to know the scariest part? Cats who contact this illness, if left untreated, can die within TWO days . That means that if you don't notice your cat acting a little abnormal over the course of a couple days, and bring them immediately to the vet, it may be too late to save their life.
How Do You Know About This?
I became introduced to this horrible disease 4 days ago, when I noticed my healthy, 5 year old cat Tiger, seeming a bit lethargic and weak. It was a rainy day outside, so I assumed he was just responding to the weather which he often does. However, the next day it was bright and sunny outside, and he remained just as lethargic and exhausted as the day before. I knew there was a problem, figuring maybe he had a bug or something, and brought him right to the vet.
The vet did a standard checkup on him, and then suddenly got a very serious look on his face after feeling around Tiger's stomach. He told us that his bladder had swelled about 5x the normal size, and immediately diagnosed him with FUS. He told us they needed to act urgently and took him into the operating room. I was of course hysterically crying because I didn't understand what was going on, or if I would possibly lose my best friend in the whole world. What had I done wrong? Was it my fault that he got sick? I never felt as depressed or in as much pain in my life, as I did that day and the few days afterwards.
What Did They Do To Help Your Kitty?
FUS needs immediate treatment, to dissolve the crystals and stop the cat from being poisoned. It turns out that Tiger was so lethargic because the toxins were poisoning his body, and in reality, he was on the brink of death.
What they do to help FUS, is they hook your cat up with IV's, and basically flush his entire body out with fluids, to get rid of the urine in the bloodstream and remove the blockage from the bladder. They place a catheter in their genitalia for a couple of days, until they can pee on their own. 80% of the time, this procedure is successful if caught in time. However, there is the 20% chance that the organs have been seriously damaged or the cat will not be able to survive on his own.
My cat has been in the veterinary hospital for a few days now, and it has been a really awful time for me, just crying and praying that he will be alright. We got the test results back yesterday from his blood work, and I am happy because his kidneys and liver have not been damaged, and he is expected to be released in 48-72 hours. I cannot wait until my sweet angel is back in my house, safe and sound. This has really been the scare of my life.
How Can I Prevent My Cat From Getting FUS?
There are a few things you can do:
**1)** Put him on a special diet, do NOT feed him predominantly supermarket dry food, such as Meow Mix. It may taste good to them, but it means nothing if it can cause them death. Speak to your vet about an alternative, healthier diet for your cat.
2) In addition to changing their diet, make sure they get plenty of fresh water and constantly change their litter box. Pay attention to your cat and if his bathroom behavior has changed, or he is acting weak or sick all of a sudden, contact your vet immediately.
What Are Some Warning Signs of FUS?
1) Lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, drowsiness, and mood change.
2) Blood in the urine, or urinating outside of the litter box all of a sudden, when they have never done that before.
3) A slouching abdomen, or pain expressed when the stomach is touched or rubbed.
4) Constant licking of the genitalia
Why Does Meow Mix Cause FUS?
It has been brought to my attention that I did not thoroughly explain why Meow Mix is linked to this disease. Meow Mix is one of the supermarket dry foods that are the most dangerous, because it has a lot of ash and magnesium in it. It is also one of the cat foods that are physically attractive, which means they are filled with a lot of unhealthy dyes and fillers. Many cats do not respond well to Meow Mix, because it upsets their stomach and causes vomiting and diarrhea. On a more serious note, it does cause FUS in some cats. Will every cat that eats Meow Mix contract this illness? No, but is it really worth the risk to see if yours does?
Besides, Meow Mix is not particularly healthy for your cats. It would be the equivalent of people eating Mcdonald's and Taco Bell every day for the rest of their lives. Cats need well balanced, nutritious meals the same way we do.
My vet told me that Hills Science Diet is recommended for cats suffering from FUS or to be used before they get it, because it is very low in fillers, such as Ash. The odds of a cat getting the disease on a healthy diet, is drastically less. Other cat foods, such as friskies, tender vittles, etc also have a high Ash content. Please buy cat food carefully and with caution.
I hope my story will serve as a precautionary tale for other cat owner's. Do not be naive and assume this "couldn't happen to your cat" or "he's too young to experience this", because I did not expect to go through this either, and it is a very harsh reality. I know that you people with cats love them just as much as I love mine, so do the best you can by protecting their health. Educate yourself about cat health care, and please, do NOT feed them dry food from the supermarket! You just may be writing your cat a death sentence.
Thank you all for reading this, and I hope it helps you in taking care of your own cats.
~~~I love you Tiger~~~