The research, conducted at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, demonstrated that a diet high in moisture boosts a cat’s total daily water intake to a level that cannot be achieved by simply providing drinking water alongside dry food. The higher daily water intake resulted in increased urine volume and dilution. Urine dilution has shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of urinary stone disease in cats.
“Bladder stones occur in around 2% of cats and, if left untreated, can cause severe discomfort and a range of health problems,” said study author and Head of Value Transfer at WALTHAM, Dr Abigail Stevenson. “Although the benefits of a wet diet for urinary tract health are widely accepted, this had not previously been established in a well-designed study.”
The research involved six healthy adult cats, which were fed dry food with three levels of added water. The original dry food contained 6.3% moisture and water was added to deliver 25.4%, 53.2% and 73.3% moisture.
When cats were fed the 73.3% moisture diet they produced larger volumes of more dilute urine with a lower risk of stone formation than when they were fed the lower moisture diets. This indicates that the dietary moisture window for urinary dilution, i.e. the level at which benefits are seen, is between 53.2% and 73.3% dietary moisture.
These findings reinforce the benefits of feeding cats a diet high in moisture in order to promote urinary tract health. The benefits seen in this study can be achieved by incorporating wet foods (pouch, tray, can) into the daily food ration.
WALTHAM is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of companion animals. This research forms part of a wider programme of ongoing collaborative research into cat and dog health and nutrition. WALTHAM has previously conducted similar research with small breed dogs.
This research was originally presented at the WALTHAM International Nutritional Science Symposium (WINSS), which took place in September 2010 in Cambridge, UK. The findings have since been published as part of a special edition WINSS supplement to accompany the October issue of the British Journal of Nutrition and is now available in print and online:
Link to British Journal of Nutrition WINSS 2010 supplement
WINSS 2010, which was hosted in partnership with the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University and The Nutrition Society, brought together many of the world’s leading experts on pets and nutrition to present and discuss the latest developments in the field of veterinary and nutritional science.