Why should cat food have sodium in it? Sodium content in cat food has an important nutritional and dietary function, just like it does in your food! But it’s important to understand just what it does and how much of it is healthy. That way you can make the best possible decisions about what to feed your cat.
What Is Sodium? Why Is Sodium Important for Cats?
Sodium is an essential mineral for life. Inside the body it is found in the blood and in the fluid that surrounds cells. Sodium itself helps ensure proper nerve and muscle cell functions, maintains a healthy cellular environment and prevents cells from swelling or dehydrating. The sodium levels in IAMS™ cat foods are balanced with other minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. That way you can be sure your cat is getting enough for their health.
Where Does Sodium Content in Cat Food Come from?
Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are all good natural sources of sodium, and are the primary ingredients in all IAMS™ cat foods including IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Healthy Adult.
Sodium may also be included in commercial cat foods in the form of ordinary table salt. Salt is an important ingredient in making food more palatable for animals, as well as for people.
How Much Sodium Can Cats Have Per Day?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends that dry cat foods contain at least a minimum of 0.2%1 sodium — 0.2% of dry matter your cat eats, or 0.5 grams per 1,000 kcal — for maintenance and to support normal growth and development. While higher sodium intake may cause increased thirst, water consumption and urination, excess sodium is passed in the urine.
Why Would a Vet Recommend More or Less Sodium?
A veterinarian may recommend changing your cat’s sodium intake to help decrease high blood pressure, eliminate excessive body fluid or as a precaution if kidney, liver or heart heath is a concern. You can keep track of your cat’s overall wellbeing at home if you regularly check their C.A.T.S. — Coat, Appetite, Temperament and Size — for any changes that might lead to questions for the vet.
Healthy cats of all ages don’t normally require a low- or reduced-sodium diet, so be sure to talk to your vet about any sodium concerns you may have before making a change.
Cats’ bodies work differently from our own, and learning to care for them is a process! What your cat eats impacts everything from their energy levels to their mood to the health of their skin and coat. By understanding what healthy cats and kittens need from their food, like sodium, antioxidants, fiber and more, you’re better able to give your cat a diet that helps them thrive.
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Cats are known for being a bit choosey about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.
Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.
Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat
Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats
Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!
Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).
Review Your Cat’s Food Routine
Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.
It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!
Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding
If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.
Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!
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