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A cure for a serval with bladder stones

This is a nice story by Dolly Guck about her domesticated serval "Sawabu" who developed a urinary tract infection (UTI) and who had calcium oxalate stones in his bladder. The urinary tract problems were first noticed when Sawabu was doing one of his tricks at a public meeting. He embarrassingly peed on a table. This is the exact same symptom you get with domestic cats who have urinary infections. For my cat it was cystitis. The urine is bloody too - readily noticeable.

X-rays revealed the bladder stones and the vet decided to operation to remove them. Calcium oxalate crystals cannot dissolved naturally through a change in diet hence the need to physically remove them. The operation went well. The stones were about one centimeter in diameter (think the size of the nail of your little finger).

The vet administered antibiotics, the standard treatment for UTIs. Sawabu was well bahaved throughout. He had to wear a protective collar and he put up it with just like a domestic cat.

The interesting bit is this. What caused the stones? What was the underlying condition that prompted the development of the infection?

Dolly does not say in her article and her vet does not say either. However the cure does tell us I think. A colleague of the vet recommended a diet of Royal Canin High Protein Calorie Control canned food - three cans per day. Sawabu's diet to that point was some raw plus "crunchy Mazuri" and Zupreem canned small feline. Sawabu did not like the Royal Canin but Dolly practiced tough love and made him eat it. Good thing too.

I will presume that crunchy Mazuri is specialist dry cat food for "exotic felines". It is dry cat food (kibble) for domesticated wildcats I'd say. It might have been Mazuri Exotic Feline-Small (25 lb) - 5M54. Zupreem Exotic Feline Food is canned (wet) exotic cat food - canned food for wild cats.

It would seem to me that the underlying cause or at least one of the underlying causes or a compounding factor was the dry cat food. Sawabu liked it. He may have eaten too much of it. Dr. Hodgkins in her book Your Cat (a book about cat health and nutrition) concludes with a firm conviction that dry cat food is the cause of many UTIs. I can confirm that my cat was cured of her cystitis by taking her off dry cat food and feeding wet with added water.

Dry cat food can cause mild dehydration because cats don't compensate by drinking more water. The urine becomes concentrated and the flow slower promoting bacterial growth and stones. As I understand it, that is the theory in outline.

The Royal Canin wet food prescribed worked nicely over time and stopped the stones returning. I am not sure what it contains other than it is wet and therefore contains a lot more water. Wet cat food is more natural for a cat domestic or wild. The Royal Canin wet food prescribed might also contain less of certain minerals etc to reduce the possibility of formation of stones.

Moral: feed wet cat food and specialist raw food to a domesticated serval as an ideal. Obviously Sawabu is just one cat and I am sure some people who keep servals feed dry cat food but it should only be as a part of the overall diet.

There is one other compounding factor that I am aware of that can predispose a cat to UTIs: stress. Without being critical (Dolly is a very caring human companion to Buddy) but Buddy may have been stressed for whatever reason. The obvious one being a lack of space in which to exercise natural behavior.

See also Urinary Tract Infections.

Source for story: Feline Conservation Federation magazine Jan/Feb 2012 Vol 56 Issue 1.

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