Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

Has anyone here had any experience (good or bad) with using cranberry for UTIs in cats?

One of my cats has had three UTIs in the past six months. The first one I treated naturally with cranberry paste/gel (I bought it from a holistic pet store), which I mixed into her wet food. It seemed to clear up (she was peeing regularly again) ... and then it came back after discontinued use. The second time, I broke down and wet to the vet, who gave her a seven-day course of antibiotics (I believe it was Clavox/Amoxycilin – sp.?), which was in liquid form and I mixed it into her food. The UTI cleared up again, and she was fine for a few weeks after the antibiotics. Last weekend, it came back for the third time. This time, the vet gave her an injection of a two-week time-release antibiotic (Convenia). She’s improving and not trying to pee every two minutes with nothing coming out. The vet said her blood tests came back OK (liver and kidneys are working fine), but she has crystals (not stones) in her urine. He said the injection should clear it up. Man, I hope so. The poor kitty has been through so much! This last time the UTI occurred, she was very sick – she couldn’t pee, she stopped eating, she vomited. I just want her to be well again.

I’m on a tight budget right now. I’ve spent so much money already on expensive, grain-free canned food, plus vet bills. So, if I may, I have a few questions for you cat experts:

1. Is there anything that I can do to help prevent future UTIs?
2. Is there a healthy, but less expensive cat food that I can use? (I’m currently feeding Innova Evo.)
3. What’s your take on wet vs. dry food?
4. What’s your opinion on brewing natural cranberry tea (tea bags from Whole Foods Market) and mixing 1 tbsp into her food as a prevention method?
5. Can I use the cranberry along with the antibiotics or should I wait until the injection has run its two-week course?
6. She stopped eating this last time that she had the UTI but now is eating a little bit (still not normal). It’s only been two days since the injection. The vet said give it three days for her appetite to return. Right now, the only thing she’ll eat is canned tuna and canned Fancy Feast (ugh! junk, I know - but at least she's eating something). I prefer her to eat her regular cat food (canned Innova Evo), but she won’t, so I’m giving her whatever she’ll eat. She can’t afford to not eat and lose weight – she’s on the thin side already. Do you agree with my vet – it takes a few days for the appetite to return? Should I be worried or just keep feeding her whatever she wants for right now?

I totally prefer the holistic/natural approach to healing and well-being, but I didn’t want to risk it and wait this time because she was so sick. Hence, the vet visit and antibiotics.

Please, share your thoughts and knowledge with me. Any advice/tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 09:28 PM
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

My bridge kitty Addison was having accidents outside of his box. He had signs of a UTI (blood cells and bacteria in the urine and POSSIBLY a few crystals beginning to form). Rather than antibiotics, I put him on cranberry capsules. A few weeks later the urine was clear.

The biggest factor with crystals is actually the pH of the urine. Keeping lots of water in your kitty will help keep the urinary tract functioning well and "flush" things out so to speak, but the biggest issue will be monitoring the pH.

I haven't seem a whole lot of luck with antibiotics clearing up crystals in the urine. Infections, yes... but not as much with the crystals. Some can have an effect on urine pH but its not a long term thing.

Convenia is also pretty new. I wonder how effective it should be though because of the class of antibiotic it is. Different vets work in different ways, but we don't typically use that class (don't know the actual name, but Cephalexin/Keflex type antibiotics) in cats at any of the clinics I've worked for. Its usually either Clavamox/Amoxicillin or Orbax (once a day) for UTIs. Not to say it can't or won't... just that I haven't seen or heard a whole lot about its use in cats. Actually, the main use as explained to my last clinic we that it was targeted for treating skin infections in dogs since they respond well to the Cefalexin class and skin infections are usually treated for such a long time (usually 4-8 weeks) that most owners would prefer one or two injections rather than several weeks of twice a day medication.

Either way, I don't think supplementing with some sort of cranberry would be harmful, and will probably help in general but I don't know that they would be enough for the crystals.

Long winded enough for you?


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

Thank you for your reply. Much appreciated.

So, can I give her the cranberry while she's still on the antibiotics? I've read mixed things about this - some say that cranberry can have an affect on the antibiotics, and I don't want to mess anything up, as she seems to be doing so much better now.

Also: Instead of mixing cranberry capsules (breaking them open and mixing in the powder) into her food, which I've done before and she doesn't like the bitter taste of the powder, I was thinking of brewing all-natural cranberry tea (from Whole Foods Market) and mixing 1 tbsp into her food and refrigerating the rest of the cup (it will keep about five days), and then brewing another cup, and so on.

I wonder if the tea will have the same benefits as the cranberry powder/capsules/paste forms? My holistic vet said it works great and she will be getting about 150 mg of pure cranberry from the tea (with no added fillers, sugars, grains, etc., which are often present in capsules as preservatives).

What do you think?
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-23-2008, 11:12 PM
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

The cranberry will work but there is still a problem. The problem is that the cat has a compromised immune system. The main reason why he is still having infections. The urinary system is a pretty sterile place. Bacteria can get in but the immune system takes care of the problem, most of the time before it can enter the system. I would clear the infection while trying to boost his immune system. Check out Lysine
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-25-2008, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

I thought about that and asked my vet. He said she's basically a healthy cat and there's nothing wrong with her immune system, and all her blood work and tests came back fine (with the exception of the fact that she has a UTI, of course). Outdoor cats are exposed to more bacteria and do have a higher risk, so that is probably the reason. I wish I could make her a full-time indoor cat, but right now it's just not possible. I'm staying with my mother and she doesn't want the cat in her house. (This was a stray - perhaps feral? - cat that I found and rescued about six months ago.)

Two questions, if you can help me out here: 1) Do cranberry and antibiotics have any contraindications? 2) What's your opinion of what the holistic vet told me (I think I mentioned it in my original post) about brewing all-natural cranberry tea and mixing a spoon or two of it into her food? She has a tendency to not eat her food if I use the cranberry capsules or paste (it's a lot more bitter tasting than the tea). I gave her the tea today and she ate it right up. Do you think the tea will work as well?

Last edited by marie73; 02-10-2015 at 02:52 AM.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2008, 02:37 AM
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

1) I don't know for sure. Sorry

2) It might work. But I would think the tea would be a weaker in comparison to the capsules. So not sure if it will work as fast as the capsules. Worth a shot

I still feel its something with the immune system. While the blood work is in range, is it at the appropriate level that your cats body is hoping for. Since your cat has now had three infections within a short period of time it means the main problem is not fixed. I say the immune, mainly because it takes care of the nasties that enter into the wrong places, but it may be something else.

Those are my thoughts in a nutshell. Research the urinary tract system and urinary ailments. Your research my lead you down the immune path or some other path. If you find any good info send it my way.

Take care
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2008, 05:52 PM
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

With all due respect for your tight budget -- each of us can certainly understand -- please don't rely on cranberry juice.

I've had UTI's, and I can tell you that they're agonizing. There's a constant, burning pain throughout the bladder and entire urinary tract. The pain is unrelenting; you constantly want to urinate, although doing so won't relieve the pain. The misery gets progressively worse and, if left untreated, can be extremely dangerous.

My veterinarian told me that the symptoms are no less severe for cats. Please believe me -- you don't want your cat to suffer in such a manner.

Some people use cranberry juice to prevent UTI's (although the effectiveness remains unproven). But, cranberry juice won't cure a full-blown UTI. Your little creature will need medical help.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2008, 08:28 PM
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

That's true if UTIs are the same for kitties are they are for humans.

For humans, it depends on how severe the UTI is (I guess there's no way of asking your kitty, heh). Cranberry capsules (not juice) along with something called PCIP (which I think is a natural remedy as well) can clear a UTI, but if it's a bad one you'll need antibiotics.

I don't have experience with the tea, but I'm not sure that it'll work as well as capsules.

Good luck with it all, whatever you do!

Last edited by marie73; 02-10-2015 at 02:52 AM.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2008, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

Well, of course I'm not "relying on cranberry" to fix the problem. Why do you think I've gone through all the trouble (believe me, it's no picnic to capture a feral cat and drive her to the vet!) and money at the vet's and antibiotics? While I prefer natural/holistic treatment, I didn't want to wait on this. I know the dangers of UTIs in cats (their kidneys can shut down and they can die quickly), which is why I didn't want to risk it and rushed her to the vet the very next morning. The cranberry is just a preventative for UTI health when the antibiotics are finished.

Thank you all for your help.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2008, 02:08 AM
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Re: Holistic/Natural (Cranberry) Treatment for UTIs?

I don't see why you couldn't give the cranberry the same time as the antibiotics. As long as it's not in a Seabreeze.
I agree that it seems like the tea would not be as strong or effective as the capsules. I also agree that, although all the tests came back fine, if your kitty keeps getting UTIs she could use a little immune boost. Lysine is a good idea and, instead of cranberry, you could give vitamin C. That would help acidify her system a bit AND boost her immune system. I give mine about a 1/8-1/4 of a teaspoon of powdered ester C when they need it.
As for her diet, I would not feed any dry food what so ever. Only wet. Chose one that is highest in protein and low or no grains, like Evo or Wellness. Also, to help make sure she stays well hydrated, I would add some SPRING water to the food.
Is she a somewhat high strung cat? If so, you could also try giving her some Rescue Remedy. Since UTIs can also be stress related, that might be helpful.
If she does continue to get them even after trying all these things, I would strongly recommend that you try to find a good holistic vet. There are several things that they can give her that could be very helpful. My friend just had a year long bout of UTIs with her dog. Back and forth to the vet. Rounds of antibiotics and steroids and it just kept coming back. She finally had enough and decided to find an alternative vet. A few trips to the holistic vet and she's absolutely fine now. Six months and no UTIs!
Hope that helps!

EDIT to add:
I'd be a little careful with the cranberry, by the way. Although it can be very helpful to get them through a flare up, I would not give it forever. You don't want to artificially boost their acidity too much or for too long as that can cause other serious problems like oxalate crystals.

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