From urinary tract infections to crystals and stones, a cat’s urinary health faces many potential hazards. Luckily, many of these painful and uncomfortable conditions can be managed effectively with veterinary-prescribed diets.
The best urinary cat foods are formulated to help resolve the nagging issues that cause your cat to pee more frequently and painfully, as well as stop blockages that can be potentially life-threatening.
What Is Urinary Cat Food?
The goal of most urinary cat food formulas is to acidify urine. Dr. Victoria Guillen of Pleasant Ridge Pet Hospital and Cat Care Clinic in Cincinnati says, “Prescription diets used for cats by veterinarians are usually to help prevent urinary stone development, lower irritation to the bladder, and dissolve bladder stones.” In many cases, this goal is achieved through the production of acidified, dilute urine. However, urinary diets may also offer other benefits.
Dr. Byron De La Navarre, the chief of staff at Animal House of Chicago, says, “Urinary diets will also restrict some minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which can stop the development of an infection or more broad conditions that lead to feline urinary syndrome, or FUS.”
Cat food that touts urinary health benefits is available in both prescription and non-prescription form. De La Navarre recommends consulting with your veterinarian before deciding to put your cat on a urinary diet. Different foods are designed to help with different specific urinary problems.
Top Prescription Urinary Cat Food
- Best Overall: Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Stress Dry Cat Food
- Best Wet Urinary Cat Food: Royal Canin Urinary SO Canned Cat Food
- Best for Management of Stones: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary St/Ox
- Best For Urinary Care and Joint Support: BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Dry Cat Food
- Best For Urinary Care and Weight Management: Royal Canin Urinary SO Moderate Calorie Dry Cat Food
How We Made Our Selections
The following dietary advice, including specific product recommendations, is being offered after consultation with practicing veterinarians who see feline patients with urinary problems on a regular basis.
General recommendations are also supported by scientific studies, which are cited where appropriate.
Your veterinarian will determine the best diet for your individual cat, based on your cat’s individual risk factors.
All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the Great Pet Care editorial team and do not reflect a direct endorsement by the author.
Best Urinary Cat Food Diets
Best Overall Urinary Cat Food
Our Pick: Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Stress Dry Cat Food
Hill’s offers a number of different urinary formulas to treat specific urinary problems, according to De La Navarre, including k/d (a kidney health diet) and s/d (a diet for cats with urinary stones). This formula, c/d, is more of a catch-all that acidifies urine, makes the urinary tract more hostile to unwanted bacteria, and helps dissolve stones and prevent their long-term formation.
Additionally, the multicare formula touts stress-reducing benefits. Stress is known to cause urinary health problems, including cystitis, which is an inflammatory condition in the bladder.
- It helps a wide variety of urinary symptoms and conditions.
- It controls minerals that can lead to stone formation.
- Protein content is higher than most comparable products.
- Long-term stress reduction has added benefits, including preventing infections and maintaining a healthy weight .
Best Wet Urinary Cat Food
Our Pick: Royal Canin Urinary SO Canned Cat Food
This prescription wet food from Royal Canin Canin offers many of the same benefits as the Hill’s formula above but without the added stress-reducing benefits. It increases the amount of urine produced by your cat and lowers the ion concentration in the urine – both of which help prevent crystals and stones.
- It controls magnesium levels for stone dissolution and prevention.
- Parents suggest their cats absolutely love the taste.
Best for Management of Stones
Our Pick: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary St/Ox
If your feline companion is prone to stones, this diet from Purina may be recommended by your veterinarian. In addition to diluting the urine, Purina Pro Plan UR Urinary St/Ox helps to dissolve struvite stones and can reduce the formation of both struvite and calcium oxalate stones. This formula is available in both dry and wet versions, so pet parents have a choice based on their cat’s preferences.
- Can help dissolve struvite stones.
- Prevents the formation of struvite and calcium oxalate stones.
- Purina Pro Plan diets are developed by nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians.
Best for Urinary Care and Joint Support
Our Pick: BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet K+M Kidney + Mobility Dry Cat Food
In addition to urinary issues, many cats also suffer from arthritis and joint problems – especially as they age. This veterinary diet from Blue Buffalo helps control phosphorus and sodium levels to support kidney function and it’s formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin to protect your cat’s joints.
- Features glucosamine and chondroitin to help mobility.
- Grain-free food, which may be important to some pet owners.
- May be more affordable than other prescription urinary cat foods
Best for Urinary Care and Weight Management
Our Pick: Royal Canin Urinary SO Moderate Calorie Dry Cat Food
Royal Canin offers a standard dry formula that touts a variety of urinary health benefits, including increased urine production for flushing excess stone-creating minerals, but this tweaked version of the formula is ten percent less caloric.
“Many urinary cat foods will pack in fat and calories in order to make them more appealing taste-wise, so it’s great when one actively tries to manage weight and urinary health at the same time,” Dr. De La Navarre says.
- It controls magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus levels for robust stone and crystal prevention.
- Formulated with less calories than the regular Royal Canin Urinary SO formula.
- Can help manage and control weight in addition to providing urinary support.
Tips for Switching Your Cat to a Urinary Diet
Dr. Guillen says cats generally don’t need diets designed for urinary health unless their vet recommends it for treating a specific problem. If cat parents want to look out for their feline’s urinary health, adding more wet food to their regular diet may increase the amount of moisture their cat consumes on a daily basis. This, in turn, can dilute their urine and help flush out unwanted bacteria from the urinary tract and help prevent the formation of stones and crystals.
That said, Dr. De La Navarre says dry food can still have a place in a cat’s diet. It’s generally less expensive than canned food, which will be a factor for some cat parents, but other cats just like to graze on dry food. “I think a mix of wet and dry is a good way to go for a lot of cats, but if the cat has urinary problems, and they really like dry food more, they should be on a urinary diet, which the cat’s vet can help with,” he says.
Another reason cat parents should speak with their vet before changing to a urinary diet for their cat is that urinary diets sometimes reduce the amount of certain nutrients. If your cat has any other underlying health problems, Dr. De La Navarre says, a sudden decrease in the amount of calcium or potassium they consume on a daily basis can be a problem for them.
In any case, after switching to a urinary food, it’s important to monitor your cat for any unusual symptoms and contact your vet if you notice anything concerning.