Author Topic: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals) (Read 3448 times)

OneCoolCat

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Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« on: April 17, 2016, 12:30:30 AM »
My 4.5 year old cat developed struvite crystals this week. We immediately took him to the vet who put him on a prescription diet. The prescribed food (Hills C/D) is quiet expensive and I was wondering if there were any cheaper options that are just as good. We paid $40 for a 8.5lb bag of the dry food and $1.35 for each small can (2.9oz) of the wet food. I'm going to guess we will be spending about $80 a month on his food going forward, but I'm not sure as I never actually thought about how much I spent on his food before because it was nominal.

It's now been 48 hours since he showed signs of having struvite crystals. He is still urinating in very small doses so he must still has some crystals in there. He will eventually pee them out wont he? Any idea how long that will take?
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Kimbl

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2016, 11:33:45 AM »
I will preface this by saying I am a veterinarian that exclusively treats felines. Below is some of my general advice since I do not know your specific situation. I am presuming that a urinalysis has been done confirming struvite crystals. This is also advice for a young male with no other medical problems. I normally don't post regarding veterinary medicine on here (or much at all, really), however, I have had a few clients in the interest of saving money on food loose their pets when it could have been prevented.

Struvite crystals in the urine are relatively common in cats, both male and female. The crystals can coalesce to form bladder stones. Male cats are at much higher risk of developing a urinary obstruction which can be fatal than females since their urethra is much smaller in diameter. An obstruction can be caused by either small stone or (and this is important) clusters of crystals. If your male cat is showing clinical signs of discomfort while urinating than he is at risk of becoming obstructed.

We do not know exactly why certain individuals are more prone to developing crystals than others. A 100 cats could be eating the same diet as yours was previously and only a few would get crystals. The prescription diet you were given is formulated to both dissolve crystals that are currently in the bladder and to prevent the formation of new ones. It is very important that your cat stay on a prescription diet until a urinalysis shows evidence of no crystals. (I usually recommend a urinalysis one month post a diet change). The cost of food is nothing compared to the cost of treating a urinary obstruction or surgery to remove bladder stones.

For long term prevention of crystals:
1. The prescription diets work extremely well. The number of urinary obstructions and cystotomies have dropped dramatically since the availability of these diets. Perineal urethrostomies (basically a penis amputation) are almost unheard of nowadays. The three major diets are Hill's c/d, Purina UR and Royal Canin S/O. They all do the same thing and it's just a matter of taste preference. They cost about the same. Many of my clients use Chewy.com to order food. The large bags (16-17#) are more economical than the small ones. If one of my patients has an obstruction or surgery, I generally recommend they stay on the prescription diet. They are often happy to do that after going through the trauma and cost of those treatments.

2. There is only one over-the-counter diet that claims to prevent struvite crystals (if your cat has another type of crystal this won't work) - Purina for Urinary Tract Health. This works well for some in the prevention (not dissolution!) of new crystals but not all. Once you have a clean urine and absolutely no clinical signs, this diet can be tried. The urine must be tested again after any diet change. I can not stress this enough - it does not work for every cat!

3. In theory, just because one OTC diet caused crystals in your cat doesn't mean any of the hundreds other diets out on the market will do the same. Then again, maybe they will. Also in theory, being on a canned only non-prescription diet prevents stone formation (but not necessarily crystal formation) since being well hydrated flushes out the bladder better. Again, in those individuals that tend to form crystals, a urine should be checked after every diet change. For me, compliance regarding urine checks is a big issue and then I see the cat again for the same problem that started it all in the beginning.

As for your last question regarding the length of clinical signs, it depends. If there are just a few crystals and no other complications such as an infection, stones or lots of crystals, most cats are symptom free with a few days, sooner if coupled with pain medication and canned food only. If I have a patient that is not completely normal within 72 hours or at most a week after pain meds, diet, increased water and sometimes a drug to relax the urethra, I recommend some type of imaging of the bladder to rule-out stones (needs surgery) or large amounts of crystals (for which there is another specialized diet to use in these cases). If symptoms are still present, you need to call your veterinarian for advice right away.

No matter what I write here, I can't actually DO anything to help you, so, please, please, please call your veterinarian for advice ASAP if your cat is not 100% back to normal and make sure you go to your recheck. The internet is not always a good place to get advice (even here on MMM!).


OneCoolCat

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2016, 12:24:30 PM »
I'll check out Chewy.com, thanks!

The vet didn't do a urinalysis. He asked for my cats symptoms, felt his bladder, gave him a shot, and prescribed a two week long medicine and Hills c/d food for life. We will definitely be buying the prescription cat food for life, that is certain.

It's been 72 hours and the size of his urine is getting back to normal. It's not quite as large as it was but its getting there so I'm not too concerned.
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OneCoolCat

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2016, 12:43:41 PM »
I recently bought a few packs of premium cat treats (Greenies Catnip Flavor Dental Bites, Greenies Smartbites, and Blue Buffalo Salmon Recipe Kitty Yums). Do you recommend I donate them or do you think I can give him an occasional non-prescription treat? It's probably a coincidence but he developed the crystals shortly after I started giving him the Greenies Dental Treats.
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Kimbl

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2016, 01:41:48 PM »
Without doing a urinalysis, it is impossible to tell if a cat has crystals. A urinary tract infection, crystals and idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder of unknown cause) all cause the exact same clinical signs. They are treated very differently. So you have a 1 out of 3 chance the diet going to work - not good enough in my opinion. And cystitis will often get better by itself so seeing a positive response to the diet isn't diagnostic. And you're left with buying a Rx diet for the rest of your cats life for no reason.

And, yes, any change in diet including treats can lead to crystals.

OneCoolCat

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2016, 03:18:31 PM »
Without doing a urinalysis, it is impossible to tell if a cat has crystals. A urinary tract infection, crystals and idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder of unknown cause) all cause the exact same clinical signs. They are treated very differently. So you have a 1 out of 3 chance the diet going to work - not good enough in my opinion. And cystitis will often get better by itself so seeing a positive response to the diet isn't diagnostic. And you're left with buying a Rx diet for the rest of your cats life for no reason.

And, yes, any change in diet including treats can lead to crystals.

Well shot, I paid $150 for the vet to prescribe him this prescription food and I don't think a urinalysis was done. I did tell the vet there was some blood in his urine and he felt his bladder, that couldn't be indicative of what's wrong? Should I take him to another vet for a urinalysis?

Edit: the $150 included about $75 worth of the prescription food.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 03:20:22 PM by OneCoolCat »
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Frankies Girl

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2016, 03:34:16 PM »
Hill's website does run coupons sometimes (usually every quarter) for $5 off.

I have to get their prescription kidney food for my cat. Sigh.

She's definitely worth it tho. ;)

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retiringearly

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2016, 04:56:24 PM »
I would try Costco's pharmacy. I know they carry vet meds, they can probably order anything you need at a decent price.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2016, 05:22:23 PM »
Call your local animal shelter. Hills has a program where shelter staff and volunteers can buy prescription food at cost for their pets. I volunteer for about 2 hours every other weekend. I update pictures of the animals for the website. I pay about 50% less than I was paying at the vet. I have two pets on rx food so it is worth every penny. I was volunteering there before they were prescribed the food but I am fairly certain that you can just start volunteering and get the same benefit. Not all shelters are part of the program though so if that is why you are volunteering, I'd be up front about it and ask. I also get rx food for my parents cat there and the shelter manager knows it isn't all for my cat and she doesn't have a problem with it.

jrhampt

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 12:25:21 PM »
I have a male cat who has developed crystals in his urine twice over the years. The second time we put him on the prescription diet royal canin wet food. He has a sensitive stomach and doesn't tolerate the dry food versions for either hills or royal canin -- turns into a projectile vomiter if he tries to eat it. It was better for him to be on the wet food diet anyway, although more expensive and more of a pain (we now have a pet sitter come in to feed him daily when we are away even for the weekend since we can't just leave large bowls of dry food out for him).

We had an automatic order on petflow.com for the prescription food set to arrive every 5-6 weeks. This prescription diet lasted for about a year, after which he started refusing to eat it. So we started switching in cans of the Purina for urinary tract health mentioned earlier in the thread. This stuff we can just pick up at the pet store. I still have some cans of the prescription stuff, so I periodically try it out on him to see if he's ready to go back to it, but for now he's still happy with the purina food. Eventually he'll get tired of it and start refusing it, I'm sure.

going2ER

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2016, 12:43:12 PM »
I have a male cat that had crystals and was recommended Medical cat food. I'm in Canada, so not sure if it also a prescription food in the US, but it is here. However when reviewing the ingredients and the % content of it, Cat Chow Urinary Tract Health was almost the same. He has now been eating it over 4 years and not developed any problems. He also eats can food regularly.

MandyM

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2016, 12:54:37 PM »
Without doing a urinalysis, it is impossible to tell if a cat has crystals. A urinary tract infection, crystals and idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder of unknown cause) all cause the exact same clinical signs. They are treated very differently. So you have a 1 out of 3 chance the diet going to work - not good enough in my opinion. And cystitis will often get better by itself so seeing a positive response to the diet isn't diagnostic. And you're left with buying a Rx diet for the rest of your cats life for no reason.

And, yes, any change in diet including treats can lead to crystals.

Well shot, I paid $150 for the vet to prescribe him this prescription food and I don't think a urinalysis was done. I did tell the vet there was some blood in his urine and he felt his bladder, that couldn't be indicative of what's wrong? Should I take him to another vet for a urinalysis?

Edit: the $150 included about $75 worth of the prescription food.

I'm guessing the vet gave him a shot of antibiotic (Convenia?) and then Rx food. This basically addresses 2 of the 3 possible issues. I've seen some vets do this "let's just treat all the options in one fell swoop" approach. I've talked to one vet and he noted that many of his clients either don't want to pay for the diagnostics or they don't want to try one thing and if that doesn't work come back. So sometimes this umbrella approach is how he will handle. I don't love it, but in some cases it is easier. However, I wouldn't sign up for a lifetime of Rx food just to skip the test.
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MrsCoolCat

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Re: Where to buy Prescription Cat Food (Struvite Crystals)
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2016, 03:04:07 PM »
I'm guessing the vet gave him a shot of antibiotic (Convenia?) and then Rx food. This basically addresses 2 of the 3 possible issues. I've seen some vets do this "let's just treat all the options in one fell swoop" approach. I've talked to one vet and he noted that many of his clients either don't want to pay for the diagnostics or they don't want to try one thing and if that doesn't work come back. So sometimes this umbrella approach is how he will handle. I don't love it, but in some cases it is easier. However, I wouldn't sign up for a lifetime of Rx food just to skip the test.

The vet is an older man that had an emergency autopsy that morning when someone brought him in a dead dog, so he may have been a bit preoccupied, BUT I don't think I should have to pay an extra $46 to see him again for the urine analysis when he could have did it that time... idk, and our cat likes dry cat food. He eats both.