What are the pros/cons of salt in a cat’s diet?
Salt is the main component of sodium chloride, an important mineral that maintains the balance between the body’s cells. Most of the time, it’s fairly easy to keep that balance with cats, provided they are fed a high-quality commercial food and they drink plenty of water. Sometimes, though, they can suffer from low sodium or hypernatremia, high sodium.
What is sodium chloride (salt) exactly?
Nutrients make their way into the cat’s cells and waste products are discarded in short order, thanks to sodium’s powerful role. And it falls to chloride to find the correct balance between acid and alkali in the feline’s body. Another task taken on by chloride is the creation in the stomach of hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl is important in the breakdown and digestion of proteins in food.
Sodium chloride is found in nearly every food. Salt serves as a flavor enhancer in pet foods, making it a frequent additive. You’ll probably never run the risk of giving your cat insufficient salt, unless you put it on an extreme diet, but it’s easier than you might think to set up the conditions of salt overdosing.
Low-sodium blood levels are most frequently caused by diabetes and diuretics (water-retention remedies) to your cat. Also, an excess intake of water can significantly dilute sodium levels. What’s more, if your pet were to suffer from a prolonged dehydrating illness that resulted in severe vomiting and diarrhea, its sodium levels could bottom out.
Hypernatremia and Treatment
Hypernatremia is the term used to describe sodium toxicity, although it is extremely rare in dogs and cats. When a cat’s serum sodium concentration reaches a certain level, the animal’s blood is considered toxic. Extreme water loss coupled with excessive salt intake can cause too much salt in the blood. Symptoms include blindness, seizures, dehydration and death, if left untreated. Swift administration of fluids is often efficacious.