Dried Food, Heat & Dehydration

  • by RawRoar
  • 13 Jul, 2017

Do you know how to protect your cats?

Due to the glorious weather across the UK recently, there has been much discussion online about helping cats through the heat.

I was surprised to read how many noted their cats vomited or didn't eat well when the temperatures soared, after all we're always hearing cats originate from the desert.

 What confused me more is that we didn't experience any issues from the heat,despite the fact one is a long coated and extremely thick, fluffy feline; on the contrary they both basked in the sunniest and hottest room (on back legs akimbo to help keep themselves cooler) despite repeated attempts to lure them out. 

I mentioned this to a vet friend of mine and after a chat I decided to dig more.  I'm quite shocked at what I found and think it should be more widely shared with pet owners.

Too hot?

The common rationale we hear online for cats suffering digestive issues in the heat, is simply that they're too hot.

Indeed cats are prone to vomiting if they overheat, but if you're not overheating to the point of vomiting, neither should your cat be.

The problem is cyclic:
We often hear dried pet food users state their cat drinks large volumes and they're not worried about intake.

But are they right not to be concerned?

H20

"Dehydration occurs when fluid levels drop to less than normal. This is due to either reduced water intake or increased fluid loss. Overheating in hot weather, increased activity or a bout of vomiting or diarrhea can all result in fluid loss in cats."   ( pets.webmd.com )
" The cat's natural diet, live prey, contains between 65%-75% water. The cat, having evolved on the plains of Africa, has adapted to obtain her water requirements almost entirely on the moisture content in her prey. Cats can live for long periods without drinking water when receiving food containing 67-73% water but become dehydrated when the water content of the food is 63% or less . "
"The water content of the commercial foods commonly fed to cats varies from 8% in dry foods to over 75% in canned foods; thus the amount of drinking water required is affected substantially by the water content of the food .

This means to achieve the recommended minimum 63%, an average cat consuming dried food needs to consume around 320ml (that's 11 ounces)of water per day - in moderate conditions, just to stay hydrated .

Still so confident?

Being "just hydrated" is also not the same as being "well hydrated".  

Merck Vet Manual states for optimal hydration the volumes should be even higher, at levels which suggest even wet and raw fed cats may at times need additional fluids on top (ie drinking much reduces but does still happen sporadically).  

When fed canned food (80% moisture) with access to drinking water, cats obtain over 90% of their total water intake from the diet, whereas on dry food, 96% of the total water intake is obtained by drinking." ( http://vetbook.org )

According to these figures our 14 lb cat would need a staggering 382 mls of water, on dried food he would need to drink 350 mls, that's half a pint!

When temperatures increase, so do water demands.  Dried food eaters are realistically never going to maintain optimal hydration, hot or not - with the problem only becoming more significant as temperatures rise.

What's more if the cat does continue to consume normal kibble quantities, during extreme heat there's no moisture available to rehydrate the food for digestion and so they're much more likely to vomit or suffer other symptoms of IBS. 

Output

Again just like for humans, reduced intake and reduced hydration levels result in reduced urine output. 
"In a recent study, cats consuming a diet containing 10% moisture with free access to drinking water had an average daily urine volume of 63 milliliters (ml). This volume increased to 112 ml/day when fed a canned diet with a moisture content of 75%. Urine specific gravity was also higher in cats that were fed the low-moisture food. Decreased urine volume may be an important risk factor for the development of urolithiasis in cats. Diets that cause a decrease in total fluid turnover can result in decreased urine volume and increased urine concentration, both of which may contribute to urinary tract disease in cats. Several studies have shown that dry cat foods contribute to decreased fluid intake and urine volume."
Consider that for a moment.  A cat fed wet food had DOUBLE the urine output of one fed dried food.  As cats are extremely prone to urinary tract and kidney problems when output is not optimal, this should be a huge concern to any dry food feeder.

What can be done?

If you can't kick the kibble, you can still take steps during hotter weathers to help maximise your cat's chances of staying hydrated.

  • On hot, sunny days reduce or eliminate dried food entirely and increase their wet food meals to provide more water.  
  • Consider having a balanced wet food in the cupboard in case the hot spell lasts more than a day or so
  • Soak dried food in water prior to serving to increase moisture levels.  It's important to note once dried food is wet it should not be kept out for longer than 30 minutes.
  • Join the raw food revolution ;)

Roar Raw

by RawRoar 17 Jul, 2017
We often read online that crunching biscuits helps to clean cats' teeth; yet despite the majority of cat owners now feeding some dried food, i t is thought that as many as 85% of cats aged three years and older have some sort of dental disease ( 1 ).

Clearly this is a problem for more than just elderly cats, the big question everyone should be asking is why.

First, is it even logical biscuits clean teeth?   It's comparable to suggesting wolfing down half a packet of Hobnobs will give us humans pearly whites.  Simply eating something hard doesn't clean teeth - particularly if you have massive canines that cut through biscuits like a knife through hot butter.   For this theory to even be on the table, cats would have to chew their biscuits.

Cats (unlike humans) don't chew food to mix it with saliva before swallowing.  The acidity of their gut is such that saliva and mastication would destroy their teeth.  Instead cats only use their teeth to rip something small enough to be swallowed whole - their digestive system takes care of the rest.

This means kibble is swallowed not chewed.
by RawRoar 13 Jul, 2017
Due to the glorious weather across the UK recently, there has been much discussion online about helping cats through the heat.

I was surprised to read how many noted their cats vomited or didn't eat well when the temperatures soared, after all we're always hearing cats originate from the desert.

 What confused me more is that we didn't experience any issues from the heat,despite the fact one is a long coated and extremely thick, fluffy feline; on the contrary they both basked in the sunniest and hottest room (on back legs akimbo to help keep themselves cooler) despite repeated attempts to lure them out. 

I mentioned this to a vet friend of mine and after a chat I decided to dig more.  I'm quite shocked at what I found and think it should be more widely shared with pet owners.
by RawRoar 29 Jun, 2017
Single protein feeding is something frequently discussed online, and when it comes to cats that generally means chicken.

Whilst the general consensus is multiple proteins are needed, some raw feeding group on Facebook disagree; instead they argue variety is "optimal" not "compulsory"
by RawRoar 03 Jun, 2017
Many of us have had it drilled into us you should  never  feed bones to your pets, and they're absolutely right that you should never feed cooked bone to your pet.   They splinter easily even when chewed appropriately and can become lodged in a cat's throat or stomach.

Raw bones however are a different ballgame.

Whereas many of us are used to seeing the image above, many of us forget our  domestic cats are basically tiny lions .

Whereas humans have molars (creating a flat surface for grinding plant materials),  along with canines  - cats have a completely different configuration.
by RawRoar 17 May, 2017
They informed their Facebook readers that when you dehydrate fresh meat (a process which involves removing water from food), the resulting product contains less water.
by RawRoar 09 May, 2017
What the TV programe did:
As an experiment  they swabbed a dog owner's (unwashed) hands, the dog's tongue and the dog's bowl following a raw meal.  They did this in association with Liverpool University, who claim to have an unpublished study showing the following:

 "The faeces of 114 dogs fed a variety of raw diets and 76 fed cooked diets (which includes kibble and tinned) were tested for the presence of some pathogens known to be harmful to human health. The percentage of dogs carrying antibiotic-resistant E. coli and Salmonella was significantly higher in the raw-fed cohort of dogs, compared to the cooked-fed cohort."    

As a result of this the authors claim:
 "This suggests that the spread of resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine is encouraged through the feeding of raw food diets, and supports existing research that there is a higher risk of coming into contact with potentially harmful pathogens if you feed your pet a raw food diet. " (BBC Scotland)
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