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Feline Hydration

Water is vital to life and considered the most important nutrient.  It is the predominant component of most body tissues and accounts for approximately 60% of bodyweight in cats.

Water serves many physiological functions including transport of nutrients, lubricant, metabolic functions, thermo-regulation and elimination of waste products through the kidneys. 

Cats evolved as desert animals and compared to dogs appear to have a less effective an incomplete response to hydration. 

 Water intake for cats can be via voluntary drinking or from the water contained in foods.  Cats that eat only dry food consume less total water than those eating wet food, even though cats eating canned diets voluntarily drink less free water. 

Activity levels can be another factor.  A cat that bounds around the house and plays with owners and other pets has higher hydration needs than a sedentary cat.

Several common conditions are known to predispose cats to dehydration.  Cats with chronic kidney disease are unable to concentrate urine as well as healthy cats, thus having a need for supplementary hydration.  Cats with lower urinary tract disease, especially those with a history of urolithiasis, can benefit from increased urine volume to dilute molecules that contribute to stone formation.  Dehydrated cats can also develop chronic constipation – a condition that can be supported with additional fluids.

With Summer now upon us, it is vital to have fresh water available in multiple areas of the home.  If you are unsure of your pet’s water consumption and feel it may be low, measuring the volume each day can give a more definitive answer.  It can also help determine if their diet needs to be altered to maintain better hydration especially in aging pets.