Feline struvite urolithiasis: factors affecting urine pH may be more important than magnesium levels in food

Vet Rec. 1987 Sep 5;121(10):227-30. doi: 10.1136/vr.121.10.227.


Eighteen male cats were fed either a canned complete diet or a commercially available dry pelleted diet or the same dry diet containing 1.6 per cent ammonium chloride. The daily food and water intake of four of these cats was measured. Urine samples were taken at random and the pH and the presence of struvite crystals in their sediment estimated. In some samples in which the pH was less than 7.0, and struvite crystals were absent, the pH was increased to 7.0 and any sediment was examined for struvite. No spontaneous struvite was seen in urine samples (pH 5.8) from cats fed the canned complete diet but when its pH was raised to 7.0, 46 per cent of these samples showed struvite. Cats fed the dry pelleted diet had urine of higher pH (7.55) and 78 per cent of the samples contained struvite crystals. Cats fed this diet supplemented with ammonium chloride had a urine pH of 5.97 and only 9 per cent contained struvite crystals but when the pH was adjusted to 7.0 all the samples showed struvite crystals. Energy intake was similar on all three diets but the intake of dry matter was greater on the dry diets. Liquid water intake was greater on the dry diets but total water intake was greatest on the canned complete diet. The intake of magnesium, calcium and phosphate was greater on the dry diets. It is concluded that urine pH is a more important controller of struvite precipitation than mineral intake.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / etiology*
  • Cat Diseases / urine
  • Cats
  • Diet*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage*
  • Magnesium / urine
  • Magnesium Compounds*
  • Male
  • Phosphates / urine
  • Struvite
  • Urinary Calculi / etiology
  • Urinary Calculi / urine
  • Urinary Calculi / veterinary*


  • Magnesium Compounds
  • Phosphates
  • Struvite
  • Magnesium