Objective: To evaluate the effects of a high-protein diet versus dietary supplementation with ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) on struvite crystal formation in the urine of clinically normal cats by measuring the urine concentration of hydrochloric acid (HCl)-insoluble sediment, urine pH, struvite activity product (SAP), number of struvite crystals in urine, and urine volume.
Animals: 23 healthy adult cats.
Procedure: Urine was fractionated by centrifugation with subsequent extraction of the sediment with 1 N HCl (study 1). Diets containing either 29% crude protein or 55% crude protein were fed to cats in a crossover trial of 3 weeks/period (study 2). Diets supplemented with either sodium chloride (NaCl) or NH4Cl were fed, by use of a 3 x 3 Latin-square design with 3 wk/period (study 3). In studies 2 and 3, urine samples were collected for the last 7 days of each period.
Results: The HCl-insoluble sediment contained Tamm-Horsfall glycoprotein (THP; study 1). The high-protein diet (study 2) and dietary supplementation with NH4Cl (study 3) resulted in a decrease in urine pH, SAP, and the number of struvite crystals in urine. However, the high-protein diet decreased urine concentrations of HCl-insoluble sediment containing THP (study 2), in contrast to the NH4Cl supplementation that increased urine volume without a significant effect on the urine concentration of the HCl-insoluble sediment (study 3).
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Our results indicate that compared with dietary supplementation with NH4Cl, the high-protein diet is preferable as a urine acidifier for the prevention of struvite crystal formation in clinically normal cats.