The type of food that owners feed their cats has changed markedly over the last few years. In the past, cats ate a “wet food” diet – tubs or tins of meat in gravy. Over time, though, we’ve seen a sudden and robust transition to water-depleted dry foods.
Water-depleted foods became popular when manufacturers and owners both noticed that they could use them to get the cost of food down. Desiccated foods weighed less, had a longer shelf life and cost less to transport around the country than their wet counterparts, leading to a reduced financial burden for owners.
Unfortunately, the dryness of the food had an unintended consequence: cat urinary problems. The main issue seems to be urinary obstruction, a condition that develops in cats when there is not enough moisture in the diet. A blockage forms in the urinary tract, preventing the cat from going to the loo without excruciating pain, leading to bladder distension and, in some cases, rupture.
Urinary problems are most common in male cats because they have much longer urethras, but they can affect female cats too. Urinary blockages are a medical emergency because they cause urine to back up into the bladder and kidneys, leading to kidney failure and bladder rupture. Without rapid intervention, cats with the condition can die.
How Wet Cat Food Can Help Avoid A Visit To The Vet
The good news is that if you feed your cat the right food, you can usually avoid urinary tract problems altogether. The best wet cat food provides your animal with sufficient moisture to keep water flowing, even if it doesn’t drink as much as it should. Hopefully, by feeding your cat food with high moisture content, you should never have to read advice like this again.
Beware some of the gimmicky marketing terms that you sometimes see on the side of cat food packaging, such as “urine pH balancing” or “crystal preventing.” While these are excellent marketing terms, neither of them can make up for the fact that the rest of the product is devoid of water – the very substance that your cat needs to stay healthy.
When you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, feeding cats wet food makes sense. In the wild, cats’ prey is around 70 per cent water, with the rest being muscle and fat tissue. Wet cat food contains more water than natural prey at approximately 78 per cent, making it one of the safest foods you can provide for hydration. Most manufacturers actually add a little extra water or gravy to make it more appealing to your cat.
Dry cat foods, however, are only five to ten per cent water, meaning that your cat must make up for the missing water by drinking more out of its bowl – something that it might not want to do.
Research suggests that most cats don’t make up for the deficit, so owners are best choosing wet foods, especially for cats susceptible to urine and bladder problems.