Proper Hydration = Optimal Health
Cats have evolved from desert creatures...
The "domestication" of cats is estimated to have first occurred around 7500 BC, though we know cats started engaging with humans as early as 3100 BC. Despite 4000+ years with humans, cats have barely evolved from their wild, desert cat ancestors, and many animal behaviourists question whether they are truly domesticated at all.
All cats, whether of the wild or house variety, are obligate carnivores. This means that they must get the nutrients they need from meat. The ancestor of today's house cat is the wild African desert cat or felis silvestris. Being desert creatures, felis silvestris does not have a strong thirst drive and relies on the moisture in its prey for adequate hydration. As a means of survival, felis silvestris will drink when they come across a fresh water source, which in the desert can be scarce at certain times of the day and year.
Our sweet kitty companions also lack a significant thirst drive and are instinctually driven to drink when they come across a fresh water source. This lack of a significant thirst drive can result in cats that eat dry food alone being up to 50% dehydrated. Dehydration can result in poor overall health including urinary tract infections, crystals in the urine, poor dental health, and kidney issues.
Helping cats stay properly hydrated and feeding them a diet rich in meat are the keys to optimal kitty health. Here are some ways to boost your cat's hydration and to maximize their nutritional intake:
Feed a high quality canned or pouched food: the high moisture and meat content of wet food is ideal for maintaining proper hydration as well as proper urinary pH. Wet food comes in a variety of flavors, textures and sizes.
Offer water that mimics a fresh water source to encourage drinking: fountains, stainless steel bowls and dripping faucets mimic fresh water sources and activate a cat's instinct to drink.
Feed quality foods with high meat content: meat, from fresh, dehydrated and organ sources provide essential nutrients that are easily digested and absorbed by your cat. High meat content foods also help to promote the proper urinary pH which can help reduce the occurrence of kidney and urinary tract problems.