The brutality of nature has taught animals that the mere act of going to a water source for hydration could mean your life as predators like to use these places to locate prey. This means that adaptation demands predators gain their hydration from other sources, mainly their kill. If you really stop and think about it, it is much more efficient to use all the liquid from a kill and maintain a low thirst drive. Since cats do not have a strong thirst drive, it is important for a cat to ingest water with his or her food as they would in nature. This means giving wet food every day and enough of it.
Importance of Good Hydration
Water is an essential nutrient for your cat and accounts for 60-75% of an adult cat’s body weight. Water helps your cat’s body digest food, regulate body temperature, eliminate waste (urinary issues continue to be one of the most common medical reasons pet parents take their cats to the veterinarian each year) and allows salt and other electrolytes to pass through the body. Encouraging hydration is extremely important. Providing a bowl of fresh, clean water does NOT ensure your cat will naturally drink what they need in order to stay properly hydrated and healthy due to their naturally low thirst drive.
Tips to Encourage Healthy Hydration:
1. Many cats love to drink running water. Just turn on a facet to see this. We can come back to nature again to understand this predilection. In the wild, stale stagnant water could mean algae and bacteria that result in getting sick while running circulating water from a stream does not. So, re-circulating water fountains are very attractive water stations that, in many cases, will stimulate a cat to drink more frequently.
2. Having multiple water stations around the house can also encourage more drinking. Out of sight, out of mind is very true in this instance. Remember to keep your dry food close by your water stations but not too close as moisture can cause dry food to spoil, I would say 2-3 feet apart.
3. You can even add more water to your cat’s canned food to encourage increased water intake. Warm water may help to stimulate a "fresh kill". Other liquid that can be added to canned food or even given separately is chicken/beef broth or gravy and raw beaten egg.
4. Multiple, clean, fresh litter boxes should be placed in out of the way areas, making it easy for your cat to relieve himself without interruption. Increased water intake should after all equate to increased litter box needs.
Why is Dry food important?
After going through how important wet food is, sometimes we ask ourselves why not just give only wet food and no dry food? Dry food has it's value too. It offers other nutritional values that could be lacking within wet food, such as antioxidant or pro-biotic properties. Dry food can also be left out indefinitely in gravity fed bowls thus making food available at all times without spoilage. Lastly, dry food can help fight tooth decay and tartar build-up by scraping the teeth and gum lines.
Both dry food and wet food should be available at all times to your Bengal in unlimited quantities. Limiting food intake will create a sense of scarcity that can cause an animal to covet their food even more. You should not have to worry about weight gain in a Bengal because they are very active throughout their entire lives, are more muscular and thus have a higher metabolism than other breeds, and lastly, animals eat according to their dietary needs. Bengals that become overweight are overeating because they are missing something in their diet that creates a craving that can't be met. A combination of wet food, dry food, and dietary supplements will ensure all dietary needs are being met.