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canned cat food
wet cat food
ph balance
ph levels
litter box
Healthy Canned Cat Food – One Major Mineral Needed At The Right Amount
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Healthy Canned Cat Food – One Major Mineral Needed at the Right Amount

Minerals in canned (or wet) cat food are essential for muscle metabolism, fluid balance, and nervous system function, among others. A major essential mineral is magnesium. Magnesium is needed for good general health. However, there are canned cat foods out there that provide a little too much magnesium for cats, and this can lead to health problems.

In contrast, too little magnesium can lead to other health problems, so it is very important to understand the label and know that your cat is getting the right amount of magnesium, among other minerals. The major role I will be discussing is the role of magnesium in regards to fluid balance.

Magnesium plays a role in setting the pH balance of the cat’s urine. The pH scale of anything falls between 0 to 14. Numbers closer to 0 represent acidic solutions, they contain more acid. Numbers closer to 14 are basic, they are more alkaline. Of course, 7.0 is considered neutral. The pH scale is very sensitive so anything less than 6.0 in the cat’s urine is considered too acidic. A pH lower than 6.0 can cause problems in cats, however it is rarer for cats to experience too acidic urine.

In contrast, pH levels that are above the neutral 7.0 can also cause problems in cats. More alkaline (closer to 14) urine forms urinary stones or struvite crystals in the bladder. These crystals can cause tremendous amounts of pain for the cat. If left unnoticed and untreated, these crystals can become lodged in the urethra (especially in males) and block the cat’s ability to urinate. Cats don’t like to show that they are in pain, so it’s not like they will tell you they are having urination problems. Visible signs like constantly going into the litter box or trying to urine in unusual areas will help trigger concern.

A pH between 6.1 and 6.5 is considered ideal, as the slightly acidic nature of the urine helps prevent the formation of struvite crystals.

So how does magnesium play a role here?

Well, the problem lies within the high amounts of magnesium found in lower quality cat foods. The higher the magnesium count, the more alkaline (closer to 14) the urine is. This is because when a cat digests too much magnesium, the excess just gets stored in the urine, as they don’t need it. Well, that stored up magnesium helps form the struvite crystals. There are many factors that play a role here, and magnesium is definitely a culprit in this life-threatening situation.

Now specialty “low magnesium” cat foods are increasingly popping up on the market. For example, my cat is on a vet marketed “low magnesium” diet where the dry food is marked as “0.08%” Mg, and the canned food is marked at “0.02%” Mg. After an incident with crystals, he seems to be fine on this food.

And this is why we now see cat food companies increasingly using the phrase “urinary tract health” when promoting their cat food. In fact, quality cat food companies now disclose, usually on their websites, the targeted pH range their foods will achieve for the cats urine. If a cat food company doesn’t, and refuses to even when asked, I’d recommend switching brands as it is essential to have the correct amount of minerals in canned food. After all, that is what makes it healthy canned cat food.

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