The French veterinarian Ferand Mery famously said, “God made the cat in
order that man might have the pleasure of caressing a tiger”. While the
domestic cat cannot claim the venerable tiger as an ancestor, it is true
that our cuddly feline companions are believed to have descended from felis
sylvestris lybica, the African wildcat. Also known as “the desert cat”,
this feline is a desert-dwelling species that inhabits harsh environments
notable for their lack of food and even less water. To survive, the African
wildcat can shed nearly all of her reserves of fat and protein, up to 40%
of her weight! But even this highly adapted animal is much less tolerant
to dehydration. And yet, it continues to thrive in desert climates without
easy access to water.
Water is the single most vital component necessary to sustain the normal
functioning of all living cells. Water has many functions: it eliminates
waste, lubricates tissues, regulates body temperature, cushions joints and
internal organs, aids in digestion, and much more.
In the wild, cats tend to eat small game characterized as high-protein
and high-moisture content, such as rabbits, birds and rodents (even some
juicy insects). Prey animals like these contain about 70% water, providing
most of the moisture that wild cats need. Unsurprisingly, wild cats have
failed to evolve a strong "thirst reflex" like that of dogs and humans.
A thirst reflex involves complex interactions between the kidney and the
brain. When we are dehydrated, the kidney releases chemicals that communicate
with the brain, which in turn makes us consciously aware that we are thirsty
and need to drink.
Like her desert dwelling ancestors, today’s domestic cat also has a diminished
thirst reflex and must derive most of her water requirement from the moisture
in her food. When a cat eats only dry food, she may not take in as much
hydration as canned-food-only cats. Cats do increase the amount they drink
when fed strictly dry food, but according to a recent study, not nearly
enough to fully compensate. Studies have shown that cats consuming a diet
containing 10% moisture with free access to drinking water had an average
daily urine volume of 63 milliliters (ml). Urine volume increased to 112
ml per day when fed a canned diet with 75% moisture content. Additionally,
urine was also more concentrated in cats fed the 10% moisture food. Veterinary
scientists generally believe that decreased urine volume and increased urine
concentration may be risk factors for the development of urinary tract disease
in cats, including issues such as bladder stones, feline urologic syndrome
and kidney disease.
Compared to dogs, cats make less precise and rapid adjustments to the
amount that they drink in response to temperature changes. When the temperature
rises, dogs compensate by drinking more water. Cat’s brains don’t register
the need to drink more in response to temperature changes as quickly, which
can lead to dehydration.
Fortunately, you can help support your cat’s urinary health and ensure
that your cat is receiving increased hydration simply by supplementing your
cat’s diet with a high quality canned food.
Life’s Abundance’s Instinctive Choice premium canned cat food contains
high-quality proteins from organic chicken, turkey, chicken liver and shrimp
along with taurine, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Equally important, Instinctive Choice is 76% moisture, which is mainly derived
from the nutrient-rich chicken broth. This allows your cat to obtain moisture
closer to the way a cat in the wild would ingest it. By supplementing your
cat’s diet with Instinctive Choice, you can help provide the nutrition
and hydration your cat needs for a long and healthy life.
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion
Dr. Jane Bicks
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