Feeding your feline friend a well-balanced, complete commercial cat food means your kitty is getting his daily dose of salt, perhaps a bit more than he actually needs. Salt is necessary for his body to function properly, but too much salt can be dangerous, even deadly.
How Much Is Enough?
Salt, or sodium chloride, is necessary for your cat's body to function properly, so his food needs to have a bit of it. Salt helps your kitty's cells move nutrients and waste products where they need to go, and it helps his tummy make the right amount of acid to digest food properly. According to the Journal of Nutrition, average-sized cats need about 21 milligrams of salt per day. Many cat foods have higher concentrations than that. The National Research Council recommends no more than 42 milligrams per day.
Salt In Cat Food
Salt in your cat food should be listed on the label, although not all labels show you the exact percentages. Look for hidden salt -- anything that has "sodium" in the ingredient name is a type of salt. Ask your vet for low-sodium recommendations if you can't find the salt percentages listed on the labels. Check your treat labels, too. You might be giving your kitty too much salt in treat form, even if you use a low-sodium cat food. If you give your furry friend treats from your plate as well, he could be getting even more salt.
Canned vs. Dry
Salt enhances the taste of food, but it also serves as a preservative. Dry food is more likely to have a higher concentration of salt than canned food because salt helps the food stay fresh longer after begin opened -- canned food should be eaten immediately. Cats get part of their water requirement from their food as well, which makes canned food an important part of their diet.
Dangers of Salt
Too much salt can wreak havoc with your kitty's little body. The salt throws their electrolytes out of balance and their cells don't want to work correctly. Watch for signs of salt toxicity, which include walking drunkenly, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, and seizures. Your pet can die within 24 hours if he's not treated, so rush him to the vet is you suspect he's had too much salt. The vet can treat him with IV fluids and help balance out his electrolytes. Keep in mind that there's salt in other things your cat may ingest instead of food, such as modeling clay, sea water or water from your saltwater aquarium, or rock salt that sticks to his paws when he goes outside in snowy weather.
- Pet Poison Help Line: Salt
- Journal of Nutrition: The Minimum Sodium Requirement of Growing Kittens Defined on the Basis of Plasma Aldosterone Concentration
- WebMD Pets: Mistakes People Make Feeding Cats
- Daily Mail: Hundreds of Dogs and Cats Die From Rock Salt Scattered by Gritters in Big Freeze
- National Research Council: Your Cat's Nutritional Needs
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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