ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: My cats don’t like to drink cold water and since giving them lukewarm water I haven’t had any problems with urinary infections. I used to have a cat with a urinary problem at least once a year. You might want to suggest it to your patients who have a cat with a urinary problem.
Dr. Nichol: You have made a rather canny observation. While only 1.4% of bladder disease in cats is related to infection, about 64% of these problems are inflammatory but sterile. Research has shown that increasing a cat’s moisture intake is associated with a reduced risk of bladder disease. By making your cats’ water more attractive to them you have improved their health. I’m impressed.
Water fountains have been promoted as a way of increasing water consumption. A very good study found no effect.
How about adding salt? That would make anybody thirstier but wouldn’t all that sodium load raise blood pressure? In his scientific paper: Dietary Salt and Cats, Brice Reynolds, PhD, concludes that, “Healthy cats can adapt to a wide variation in dietary salt intake. High salt levels in dry diets reliably increase urine output and dilution, which in turn decreases … the theoretical risk of CaOx uroliths (bladder stones).” Dr. Reynolds concluded that. “All studies performed to date in cats indicate that blood pressure is not salt sensitive in this species.”
Add salt? Not at my house. I certainly support evidence-based medicine but I want to see more research before sodium loading the two Nichol family cats. They consume generous volumes of moisture because they eat canned food, which is a safe, research-supported method of reducing the risk of urinary disease.