Why Your Cat Needs a High Moisture Diet

Today’s guest post is from Robin Mudge from Playful Kitty

Everyone knows that it is important for humans to stay hydrated, but what about our cats? The debate over the whether or not a dry food diet is appropriate for cats continues throughout the pet food industry. Is a high moisture diet really necessary? It could be more important to your cat than you think.
The Unique Feline Thirst Drive

While there are numerous similarities between cats, humans, and dogs, there are also a few very important differences. One such difference is the feline thirst drive. Perhaps it has to do with the cat’s ancestral roots as desert animals, but cats simply do not have a strong thirst drive like humans or dogs do. When a dog’s body, that dog’s brain will send a signal to the dog that he/she is thirsty and he/she will make a trip over to the water bowl and lap up a good amount of water. Cats don’t necessarily get that same signal. Cats will drink from a water bowl, but on a much less frequent basis. In fact, if a cat is drinking a lot of water, it can be considered a sign of illness (http://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/thirsty-cat-is-it-just-hot-or-is-something-up ).

Cat drinking water - michal via Flickr
How do cats stay hydrated?

Cats get the moisture that they need to stay hydrated from the food that they eat. In the wild, cats catch and kill their own prey. A diet of mice, birds, lizards, and other small creatures is a very high moisture diet. These creatures are about 75% moisture and cats in the wild consume them whole. It is important to note that throughout most of history, cats have lived on a diet of prey the caught themselves and table scraps. The dry cat kibble that we are familiar with today (which is only about 10% moisture on average) only started becoming popular in the 1950’s (http://www.petfoodinstitute.org/?page=HistoryofPetFood ).
How a high moisture diet helps

One of the ways that a cat’s body eliminates waste products and toxins is through their urine. The cat’s blood comes through the kidneys and these waste products and toxins are filtered out along with water. That water helps push everything that was filtered out through the urinary tract and out of the body. If there is not enough water present, then those waste products and toxins can just sit inside the kidneys and bladder until there is enough water to push them out. Dehydration can lead to infections of the urinary tract system. In fact, several common medical problems that cats face today are in regards to their kidneys and urinary tract: Chronic Kidney Disease, Cystitis, crystals forming in the bladder, urinary tract infections, Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder, etc.
Cinco and Manna eating wet food
A high moisture diet can help to create and maintain optimal organ function as well as to prevent illnesses of the kidneys and urinary tract. Yes, a cat that is eating a diet of dry food will drink more from the water bowl. However, a cat will be better hydrated from eating moisture in their diet than from drinking it separately. According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM (http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/02/17/dry-food-wrong-for-cats.aspx ), even with what they drink out of their water bowl, cats on dry diets get only about half as much water as cats on high moisture diets. The extra hydration in a high moisture diet can save you on time trying to make your cat drink more water and save you the money and heartache that comes along with having an ill cat.
Do you know how much moisture is in your cat’s diet?








Guest Post from Robin Mudge | Playful Kitty | Robin is the Detroit based blogger behind Playful Kitty. Besides spending time with her 2 cats, she also enjoys working as an actress, singing, dancing and other creative pursuits. She is passionate about animals, art, and education.

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  1. Interesting article – and it makes sense. Cats are indeed less inclined to drink a lot of water, and some may even take a while to catch on that they need to drink more once switched over to dry food.

    I personally always give dry food because it tends to be better for the teeth – less plaque forming that way as the animal’s teeth aren’t caked in wet food. That, and it smells less, and doesn’t go bad as quickly in the heat.

    It would be interesting to see if they did a study on the effects of dry and wet food in cats, health-wise.
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  2. I didn’t know this until recently. We had mostly fed dry food because we thought it was better for their teeth. But since I learned this we’ve added canned food to Sam’s diet, though she still prefers the dry, so we struggle to get her to eat enough of the wet.
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  3. Yep, we mostly get canned food for this reason.
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  4. Amazing blog! Before reading this blog, I did not know about the importance of high moisture diet for cats. I myself have a cat and now I will take care to include high moisture diet for her.

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