Did you know that those heavy, acrid, ammonia smells we’ve long associated with the litter box are an early sign of urinary problems, kidney strain, chronic dehydration and a direct result of feeding dry food? And trust us, you dog people would be reeling from the smell too if your dogs were accustomed to peeing in a small enclosed space.
Unlike raw meat or canned food, dry bagged food only has a moisture content of 3-5% and needs more water than a dog or cat will drink in a day in order to be properly processed and digested. The result is a chronic state of dehydration which puts increased strain on the kidneys and consequently produces an unnatural and unhealthy concentrated urine.
Both cats and dogs are designed to eat and drink in the same meal – prey contains between 70-80% water – and thus the very act of eating raw meat naturally promotes adequate hydration and proper regulation of urinary pH. Cats in particular, having evolved from desert animals and being exclusive prey eaters, do not instinctively possess a strong thirst drive, which is very problematic when they are only fed kibble. “Cats on canned food have been shown to consume at least double the amount of water (from food and water bowl) when compared to a dry food-fed cat (Pierson, DVM)”.
Therefore, despite being dehydrated, cats will only drink minimal amounts comparative to the amount of water their bodies need to be happy and hydrated. Contrary to popular belief, cat pee does not normally smell like ammonia, but rather that strong acrid smell that is so easily recognizable is a direct result of too little water and an overly concentrated urine. It should be no surprise that cats and dogs eating a raw diet produce urine that has little to no smell.
While humans have domesticated cats and dogs, we’ve only changed their appearance and temperament and not their internal anatomy or physiology. They share the same nutritional requirements as their wolf and wildcat cousins. It was only after the advent and marketing of packaged, bagged convenience food following World War II, that cats and dogs have been forced to eat a wholly inappropriate diet dehydrated meats and carbohydrates. Before that, cats and dogs were eating meat scraps and were much healthier.
And while feeding an all raw or canned diet for cats is absolutely doable, realistically feeding a big 80lbs + dog only cans would become prohibitively expensive for most budgets. We suggest feeding as much canned, or raw as your budget allows – even if that means a canned meal a few times a week. The more moisture the better!
As Dr. Lisa A. Pierson DVM says:
Always keep in mind that water flowing through the urinary tract system is the most important factor in keeping it healthy.
When I say it is illogical to feed “any” cat [or dog] a diet of dry food, think about practicing preventative nutrition. Do you really want to wait until your cat develops urinary tract problems before you implement the feeding of a water-rich diet to a species with an naturally low thirst drive?
Think about closing the barn door before the horse is running down the roadway.
You can read more about the importance of water at: catinfo.org
– Viki, of Bailey Blu