Water – the most important element needed for any animal
Tasteless, transparent, odorless fluid, but vital for all known forms of life, including cats. During the summer heat, we want to remind cat owners to remember to provide fresh water for the cats in their household and be sure their pets have access to adequate amounts of this precious liquid. Of course, their water requirements increase on hot days, but let’s not mistake this for a seasonal trend. The need to ensure your cat gets enough water applies all year round.
Where does the water come from?
Cats, through desert adaptation, have a low thirst drive and therefore require more water as a component of their food. By feeding your cats wet food, they can get much of their daily requirement of liquid from their food. If their diet consists of dry food alone, this could lead to chronic dehydration. So feeding wet food during hot days is not only beneficial for your pet but crucial in terms of longevity and quality of life. Many feline diseases (diabetes, obesity, urinary tract disorders or renal disease) can be directly attributed to insufficient hydration combined with low meat protein and high carbohydrate consumption.
How much water should a cat drink?
A cat should, on average, drink approximately 60ml of water per kg of body weight per day. A 4kg cat, for example, should drink about 240ml of water a day. This amount of water will ensure its body has enough fluid to function properly. How much of this liquid intake is from drinking will depend on its food. After all, the water in wet cat food makes up 70% – 80% of each spoonful, whereas dry food has only 7% -10%. So providing wet food can cover most of their water needs. The low thirst drive combined with only feeding your cat dry food can lead to chronic dehydration which in turn may lead to many serious health problems.
Hydration and dehydration
Hydration is a physiological situation when the body is fully balanced allowing all organs to function properly. By balance we mean the right levels of electrolytes, minerals and fluids needed to ‘run’ a cat’s body. Although there are some other possible causes of dehydration, such as genetic predispositions or bad-tasting drinking water, the most common one is – not enough liquid in the diet. Lack of water can lead to chronic dehydration and this can have a serious negative effect.
Signs of dehydration in cats include:
– Dry, tacky gums.
– Loss of energy, lethargy or depression
– Loss of appetite.
– Loss of skin elasticity.
– Sunken eyes.
– Panting, elevated heart rate
It is very important to ensure that your cat has an ample amount of drinking water.
How can I tell if my cat is getting enough water?
It is hard to measure how much your cat has been drinking, especially if you have more cats and/or other animals at home but there are signs that can indicate some hydration-related health problems:
– very frequent drinking from a bowl
– starting to drink from unusual locations like the shower or a fish pond. For some cats, this may be normal if they have been brought up to drink from these sources, only if a cat changes its source of water do you need to worry.
– increased urination frequency
– sudden change in appetite
– vomiting and/or diarrhoea
By the time we have noticed a change in behaviour to make us concerned, it may already be too late and the previous long term dehydration from insufficient liquid intake has already caused chronic conditions. Waiting for these signs could be too late to prevent long term problems. The importance of water for cats is apparent from the four most common problems diagnosed in association with an increase in water intake are:
– Chronic kidney disease
– Diabetes mellitus
– Urinary tract disease
How can I encourage adequate water intake?
To help prevent chronic dehydration and its related illnesses, you should make access to water for your cat easy and it is very important that fresh water is available to your cat all the time. Remember to refresh the water at least twice a day, the best is once in the morning and again in the evening. Water intake problems can be bigger for older cats which have an even lower thirst and can become dehydrated more easily. They also may already have some other health problems which require a greater fluid intake.
If you are concerned about how much water your cat drinks, a special gadget may help encourage it. For example, a water fountain may make drinking more fun, some cats prefer running water, possibly an instinctual remembrance of drinking from fresh springs. Another way to encourage drinking is changing the water bowl from plastic, which can have a plastic smell, to glass or ceramic which helps make drinking more attractive.
It is also recommended to use filtered or bottled water, rather than big-city tap water. In many countries, researchers found increased amounts of hormones, antibiotics or other human medicines, that come into the water system but not cleaned enough at the water purifying plants.
Benefits of wet cat food
Wet food by its definition is superior to dry food in terms of supplying cats with balanced water levels. While dry food might be easier or more convenient to manage, by feeding quality wet food you can ensure you are supplying your cat with a good basic level of liquid. This helps maintain a balanced body in terms of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes thereby preventing illnesses and increasing longevity. Wet cat food is also closer to their natural prey diet.
To make sure that on hot summer days your cat food is still fresh and not dried out, more frequent and smaller portions might be a good solution. While dry food stays “fresh” for longer, especially on those hot days, it is missing the most important nutrient – water. And water is by definition more necessary on those days.
Dry food is sometimes recommended because of a perception that it ‘cleans’ cats’ teeth. There is no definite evidence that dry food is indeed better for teeth or gums. At 3coty® we do have a better solution and introduced food with spirulina, to help your cat with its teeth.
At 3coty® we believe in feeding cats primarily wet food. By producing wet tinned food, we can be sure that our products are not only natural, complete and balanced, giving your cats proper nutrition but they also contain high levels of water to avoid dehydration. The moisture in each tin takes the form of jelly or bullion. You may find that the jelly turns into a more liquid form on hotter days, as our products are fully natural and we do not use any thickening agents.