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An acidifiying diet, what is it ?

An acidifying diet is formulated in order to induce the production of an acidic urine, i.e a urine whose pH is normally inferior to 6,5. This can be obtained by different ways:

  • a large using of proteins from animal origin: actually, these proteins contain a lot of sulphurated amino-acids, such as methionine, and these amino-acids then produce sulfuric acid;
  • incorporation of phosphoric acid, ammonium chloride,
  • limitation or exclusion of alcalinizing ingredients, such as soya proteins or calcium carbonate.

Most of catfood available on the market are acidifying diets, even if it is not labelled expressly.

Goals of acidification

Acidification aims at preventing the formation of struvite calculi in the urinary tract. These calculi are especially to fear in young adult cats. A urinary pH maintained lower than 6,5 is the most efficient way to avoid the precipitation of struvite crystals.

Contra-indication of acidification

Acidification is not innocuous. Extreme acidification (i.e urinary pH < 6), may promote excessive loss in potassium, calcium, and be harmful to the catís health.

Acidifying diets are disadvised to:

  • kittens, that have naturally an acidic urine,
  • pregnant and lactating queens: in this case, acidification might interfere with the development of the kittenís skeleton;
  • senior cats (> 10 years old): here, acidification could disturb the renal function. Moreover, struvite calculi become exceptional in cats over 10 yrs old. They tend to be replaced by calcium oxalate uroliths, and contrary to what happens for struvite, the formation of calcium oxalate is stimulated by a low urinary pH. Acidifying diets would then enhance the risk.
Prevalence of struvite and calcium oxalate stones according to age An odd ratio > 1 or < 1 indicates an increased or a dicreased risk, respectively, compared to the general cat population.

In the last 10 years, the prevalence of calcium oxalate has increased substantially. This evolution could be attributed to the widespread use of acidifying diets. The most dangerous ones are those who induce a urinary pH lower than 6,0.


Acidifying diets allow an efficient prevention against the development of struvite uroliths. Then, they are mostly interesting in young adult cats. Feline Nutrition products that are proposed to them are all acidifying diets (except Persian 30). But Kitten 34 et Senior 28 are not, because acidification could be dangerous for kittens, queens and senior cats.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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