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There are quite a few scenarios that would entice a cat to drink sea or salt water. Salt water pools are becoming more popular as time goes on. Adventuring and taking cats outdoors are also another up and coming thing. Whatever the environment may be, they all lead to the same question.
Can cats drink sea or salt water? The answer to this question is surprisingly yes! Cats are actually able to re-hydrate through drinking salt water. This is the complete opposite of humans.
According to OceanService, seawater contains a large amount of salt. When we drink sea or salt water, or cells take in both water and salt. Although our kidneys are able to filter out excess sodium, there is a limit on how much the body can process.
In the average american diet, we consume both salt and water as a part of a well balanced diet. The keyword here is both water and salt. Water helps to dilute the salt to keep sodium levels in our body at equilibrium. In order for our bodies to urinate properly, we must have an adequate balance of ingested water and sodium.
Salt water does not satisfy this ratio, and this is why drinking only salt water will eventually lead to severe dehydration in humans.
Is Salt Water Bad for Cats?
While us humans won’t feel refreshed after taking a big gulp of salt water, this is very different for cats. As I mentioned above, our kidneys can only filter out so much sodium. Salt water has too much sodium for our bodies to adequately use the water that comes along with it.
It is actually safe for your cat to routinely drink salt water since they can tolerate a higher salt intake than humans. While it is occasionally safe for them to do so, it doesn’t mean that this should be part of their daily diet.
High salt intake usually leads to increased thirst and urination. So although your cat will be able to handle the high amounts of salt, it does cause an unneeded amount of urination and stress to your cat’s kidneys.
It is still recommended for your cat to drink freshwater instead of salt water, but rest assured if your cat does drink a large amount of sea or salt water, they will be completely fine in the long run.
Is Too Much Salt Bad for a Cat?
It is a widely known fact that too much salt consumption for humans can lead to an increased risk of heart and kidney problems. Many people would think this would translate over to cats as well. After researching this topic, the results that I found were actually very surprising.
According to PetMD, they looked at many published articles about the effects of different salt intake on cats and the results are worth noting. The
The author looked at a number of published studies investigating the effects of salt intake on cats. Here’s a list of studies they looked at when making their conclusion.
- Blood Pressure
- Urine Composition
- Kidney Function
- Heart Structure and Function
- Bone Density
In the concluding results, there were few small differences found in the laboratory result parameters of the cats who ate high salt diets versus the ones that ate low or regular salt diets. None of the studies actually showed a significant difference in any of the important measurements that were listed above.
The most shocking study was the one that they did on older senior cats. Senior cats are specifically at a higher risk for heart and kidney disease than younger cats. Even after a two year period, a diet that was about two to three times higher in salt had no negative effects on kidney function, blood pressure, or cardiac function.
What does this mean to us? While we have to watch our salt intake, it appears that we don’t have to do the same for our cats. Cat’s kidneys are able to excrete sodium at a much greater efficiency than humans.
This means that unless your cat has some type of kidney disease, you do not need to worry about the amount of salt they are consuming on a daily basis. Having this knowledge can help keep you at ease if your cat is on a high sodium diet.
Why Is My Cat Craving Salt?
Do you ever see your cat going after your fingers after you’ve been eating potato chips? Has your cat ever started to lick salted popcorn, Cheetos, olives, tortilla chips, or other salty foods?
There are two reasons your cat is craving salty food. The first reason is that their body is lacking sodium. Sodium is an essential electrolyte for both humans and cats. When a cat is low on sodium, they will naturally be drawn to salty foods.
If you find your cat attracted to salty foods it mat be worthwhile to check the sodium content of your cat’s food. Every cat is different. Some need more sodium than others. This mostly depends on the activity level of your cat. The more active your cat is, the more sodium their body is likely to need.
Take a look at the dry or wet food that you are feeding your cat. It should have the amount of sodium on the nutrition facts label. Next time you go to the store, try to find a brand of cat food that has a higher sodium content than the one you are currently using.
Sodium plays an important role in hydration, which is why your cat will naturally be drawn to it.
It surprised me to learn that a cat’s kidney can actually handle a larger amount of sodium than humans. This makes it capable for cats to drink salt or sea water without negative side effects. On the other hand, if we relied directly on salt water as our main source of hydration, we would eventually dehydrate to the point of no return.
Salt or sea water should not be considered as part of a normal diet of your cat. Use this knowledge to understand that your cat will be okay if they ingest large amounts of salt water. Whether that’s because you are out hiking with your cat, or you have a salt water pool.
Your cat’s kidneys will be able to filter out the appropriate amount of salt for them to be able to properly hydrate themselves.