Dr. Michael W. Fox

Urinary Tract Stones

Vegetarianism: A Bioethical Imperative
Dr. Fox on the Tonight Show
In Memoriam_Feral Cat Mark Twain
DVD Links
Releasing Cats To Live Outdoors
Outdoor Cats, Wildlife And Human Health
Cat and Dog Nutrition--the Thiamine Issue
Cat Food Recipe
Cat Tail Deemed To Be Good Vaccination Spot
Cat Behavior
Cat Vaccination Protocols
Declawing Cats
Feline Stomatitis Complex
Cat Litter Box Issues
Introducing A New Cat
Introducing A Dog Into Cat's Home
Choosing To Live With A Dog
Dog Vaccination Protocols
Dog Mutilations
Dog Food Recipe
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Dog Food and Feeding Issues
Dr. Fox's Good Medicine Juice
The Truth About Manfactured Dog and Cat Food
Companion Animals Harmed By Pesticides
Dominance-based Dog Training
Dr. Fox and the Super Dog Project
Guide to Congenital & Heritable Disorders in Dogs
Dogwise E-Books
Concerning Outdoor Chaining/Tethering Of Dogs
Dogs In Shelters
Dr. Fox's Good Dog Cookie Recipe
Don't Clone Your Dog Or Cat!
The Pros and Cons of Neutering Your Dog
Recovering Canine Health And The Natural Dog
Animal Vaccination Concerns
Care For Dogs and Cats With Renal Failure
Urinary Tract Stones
Green Pet Care
Puppy and Kitten Breeding Mills
Pure Water for Cats and Dogs--and All
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Chemical-related Human Diseases In Companion Animals
From Mineral Oil & Multiple Sclerosis to Plastics, Nanoparticles
Companion Animal Care
Companion Animals and Flea and Tick Treatments
Behavioral Problems and Drug Solutions: A Last Resort
Preventing Fleas
Domestication and Diet
Lyme Disease and Wildlife Management
Disease and Animal Rights
GMOs and Pet Food
Journal of AVMA and GMOs
Indoor and Outdoor Poison Hazards for Pets
Carrageenan In Pet Foods
Cats, Dogs and Cadmium
Fluoride In Pet Food - A Serious Health Risk?
Best Manufactured Pet Foods
Pet Food Letters
Nutrigenomics and the Pet Food Revolution
The Ethics of Krill Oil and Protein Supplements
Animal-Insensitivity Syndrome
Wolves and Human Well-being
Wolf-Dog Hybrids
Crying Wolf Too Much
Betrayal of Wolves and Public Trust
The 'One Medicine'
Pet Health Insurance
The Veterinary Profession
  Pharmaceutical Cruelty In Animal Farms: Consumer Beware
Pig Parts For People
Conflicts Of Interest In The Veterinary Profession
Bioethics: Its Scope And Purpose
The Bioethics And Politics Of Manufactured Pet Foods
Animal Rights, Human Rights And Wrongs
The Future of the Veterinary Profession
Holistic Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Ethics and Economics
Veterinary Bioethics and Animal Welfare
Principles Of Veterinary Bioethics
What Price Our Animal Relationships?
Changing Diets for Health's and Earth's Sake
Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Reseach Needs Ethical Boundaries
Wildlife Management Practices
How Animals Suffer Around the World
Feeling for Animals and Animal Liberation
Animal Altruism and Abilty To Empathize
What Makes Animals Happy?
The Empathosphere: Animal Prescience, And Remote Sensing
Mental Effects on Physical Health: The Mind-Body Connection
Animal Spirits
Light Of Compassion
Religion, Science and Animal Rights
Animal Suffering And The God Question
Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health
Islam And Animals
Panentheism: The Spirituality Of Compassion
One Earth, One Health
Why We All Must Care For Animals and the Environment
Quality Of Life In Animals
Healing Agriculture's Broken Connections
Mammon Vs. Civil Society
Justice For All Beings And The End Of Terrorism
Universal Bill Of Rights For Animals And Nature
Science Writers' and Reporters' Political Agendas
Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness
Michael W. Fox Resume'
Dr. Fox Biographical Interview
Interview: History of Animal Welfare Science
Curriculum Vitae
Books By Dr. Fox
Dr. Fox Lectures, Seminars and Workshops
My Life For The Animals
To Kiss Salamanders and Stones

            Urinary Tract ‘Stones’ & Cystitis in Cats and Dogs

                                     By Dr. Michael W. Fox


Dietary factors play a major role in the development of kidney stones that can block the urinary tract in cats and dogs and cause great discomfort, even death. These ‘stones’ or uroliths, (also called calculi, or ‘sand’ when in fine particles/crystals) have various chemical compositions, the most common being composed of calcium oxalate or of ‘struvite’---a composite of magnesium, ammonium and phosphate.


Aside from the fact that certain breeds are more susceptible, there are several co-factors that have also been identified in the increasing incidence of kidney stones in children. These include not drinking sufficient fluids (water) which is a major problem when cats are fed only dry food. Then the urine becomes more concentrated (hypersaturated) which can trigger bladder inflammation. Bladder inflammation can also be associated with bacterial infection (notably Staphylococcus and Proteus), especially in female animals. The bacteria convert urea in the urine into ammonia that inflames the bladder wall and makes the urine alkaline, creating an ideal environment for struvite crystals to form often around a core of bacteria or inflammatory material from the wall of the bladder.

When dogs and cats are fed high cereal diets their urine becomes abnormally alkaline (it is more acidic on a biologically appropriate meat-based diet). Such diets are another co-factor in the development of struvite crystals or calculi. So the best prevention is obvious.


 In order to avoid this problem but not reduce the cereal content of their formulas, pet food manufacturers, who initially blamed high ‘ash’ content of their foods and came out with low magnesium diets that proved to be of no benefit, now acidify the formulas.

Acidification is a co-factor in the development of increasingly prevalent oxalate crystals in cats and dogs. Pets with oxalate crystals are often given potassium citrate to make the urine more alkaline so as to help prevent oxalate crystal formation. Adding extra salt to the pet food to make animals drink more water to control struvite crystal formation actually encourages the formation of oxalate crystals, a problem seen in children where the sodium in the salt triggers more calcium excretion by the kidneys. The excess calcium combines with oxalates present in many foods, to form calcium oxalate crystals. Soy products (a cheap source of protein used widely by pet food manufacturers) are high in oxalates and probably represent yet another co-factor in the genesis of urinary tract blockage and much suffering and expense to pet owners.




 The feline urologic syndrome, that involves inflammation, and possible infection, and painful mineral crystal and stone formation in the urinary tract, and often the development of mucous plugs in the urethra, is a widespread problem in cats today.

 It is a major reason why cats are euthanized, or are put outdoors for the day or night because they become house-soilers, urinating in the home outside of their litter boxes. The major reason why cats develop this distressing condition is because they are fed a dry food diet too high in cereals that makes their urine too alkaline, which encourages the formation of urinary calculi or crystals. The lack of moisture in the cat’s diet can lead to highly concentrated urine that is extremely harmful to the lining of the bladder.


Symptoms of cystitis include straining to urinate, frequent, often frantic licking of the hind end, and great difficulty in urinating, blood in the urine, urinary tract obstruction and inability to urinate at all, (a painful emergency), loud crying, and voiding at the care-taker’s feet as a clear display of distress.


This serious, treatable condition is to be distinguished from cats’ aversion to using the litter box for such reasons as: it is not being cleaned out daily by the care-taker; the cat does not like the type of litter; the box is not in a quiet, low-traffic, easily accessed part of the house; the box is enclosed under a hood, and the interior becomes ammoniated; the cat has a pain-associated aversion to using the litter box because of constipation, impacted or infected anal glands, arthritis, especially spinal, in older cats, and diseases of the urinary tract.


If crystals/urinary calculi are involved in the cystitis, it is important to determine what type they are chemically. With most types, acidifying the urine with Vitamin C or capsules of cranberry can help. Uva ursi or Bearberry can be a valuable anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herbal treatment for cystitis, but it tends to make the urine alkaline, which is not desirable if a cat has struvite crystals in the urine. But an overly acidified, artificial diet can lead to calcium oxalate crystal/urolith formation in the urine, so maintaining an optimal acid-base balance in the cat’s diet, and normally slightly acidic urine, is essential. Giving appropriate probiotics may help when there are oxalate crystals, and in cases of uremia, and bacterial infection of the urinary bladder and tract.


 Encouraging the cat to drink more water, as by flavoring with milk, tuna juice or unsalted beef or chicken broth, and not feeding an all-dry type commercial cat food are additional steps to take. Diuretic herbs like parsley and dandelion help keep the urinary tract flushed out, but increasing the cat's fluid intake, as with flavored water and moist, canned or home-prepared foods, is important. No cereals and more raw or lightly cooked meat to increase the acidity of the urine is advisable in many cases, unless they have calcium oxalate crystals in their urine.


Cats with cystitis and incontinence may have an underlying food allergy and some have made spontaneous recoveries when all corn was eliminated from their diets---a common ingredient in many cat foods.


Cats with cystitis often need antibiotics because of underlying infection. Diabetic cats and those on long-term steroids, often develop bacterial cystitis because of lowered immunity.  Incontinent cats should be checked for these problems.

 Changing the type of litter to a non-mineral/clay base, like newspaper or corn pellets, may also help.


Emotional stress, as well as an all-dry diet, is a major aspect of feline cystitis/urologic syndrome. Environmental enrichment, as with perches and climbing posts; a cat ‘condo;’ safe places to hide; identifying and resolving conflict between cats in the same home; regular play and grooming; providing an extra litter box, and putting out extra food and water bowls located in a quiet place were cats will not be startled or compete with each other are all helpful preventive measures.  Treatment with an analgesic like Butorphanol, or with Valium or Valerian, that have antispasmodic properties as well as being anxiety-alleviating, has helped many cats during the first 5-10 days of treatment.




Am J Vet Res. 2004 Feb;65(2):138-42.

Evaluation of effects of dietary carbohydrate on formation of struvite crystals in urine and macromineral balance in clinically normal cats by

Funaba M, Uchiyama A, Takahashi K, Kaneko M, Yamamoto H, Namikawa K, Iriki T, Hatano Y, Abe M.

Laboratory of Nutrition, School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, 1-17-71 Fuchinobe, Sagamihara 229-8501, Japan.


Urine volume was lower in the starch group and fiber group in study 1, whereas no differences were detected among the groups in study 2. Urinary pH and struvite activity product were higher in the starch group in both studies, and the fiber group also had higher struvite activity product in study 2. In both studies, urinary concentrations of HCl-insoluble sediment were higher in the starch group and fiber group. In the fiber group, a net loss of body calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium was detected in study 2.


Starch and fiber in diets potentially stimulate formation of struvite crystals. Hence, reducing dietary carbohydrate is desirable to prevent struvite urolith formation. In addition, a net loss of body calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium during feeding of the fiber diet suggests that dietary inclusion of insoluble fiber could increase macromineral requirements of cats.


Also, these acidifying diets, which are so often prescribed, may end up promoting calcium oxalate stones and hypokalemia.





Check the link below for a Dr. Fox C-Span feature concerning "Animal Testing"

Dr. Michael W. Fox on C-Span

--Video Link--

Dr. Michael W. Fox

What right do we humans have to exploit other animals?  Where does that right come from and what are the limits if any?  What duties or obligations do we have in our relationships with our dogs, cats and other animals domesticated and wild?

          Follow and support Caroline Kraus and her Moments of Truth Project documentary film as she travels across the U.S. asking people, who variously live, work with and care for animals, these and other relevant questions.

Is there an overriding consensus and what are the reasons why people respond very differently to these questions, which in part examine our character, culture and future?

The viewing and discussion of this kind of documentary should be part of every school curriculum and will be of interest to all who work with, profit from and care for animals. Project Home Page: http://momentsoftruthproject.com/  To see the interview with Dr. Fox go to http://momentsoftruthproject.com/dr-michael-fox/