2 nutritional advantages cats have over humans

There are 2 nutritional advantages that cats have over humans. The domestic cat does not require vitamin C. This is because it is synthesized in their livers. Humans don't have this ability. Apparently this deficiency in human biology is due to "a mutation in the GULO (gulonolactone oxidase) gene, which results in the inability to synthesize the protein" (stackexchange.com). 

2 nutritional advantages cats have over humans
2 nutritional advantages cats have over humans. Cat drinking. Domestic cats are in general poor drinkers because of their wildcat inheritance. Photo: in public domain.

The second advantage cats have over us in terms of nutritional requirements is that their kidneys are very efficient. This is because their ancestors (North African wildcat) lived on the edge of deserts. They get most of their water from the prey animals they eat. Mice are 70% water. This is why domestic cats are poor drinkers, which is also why they tend not to drink enough water to make up for the lack of water in dry cat food. This arguably leaves them mildly dehydrated if they are on an exclusively dry diet.

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Both these nutritional advantages proved very useful to ships' cats. We've all heard of scurvy due to the lack of vitamin C in a sailor's diet. That health problem does not exist for ships' cats. And if water is scarce onboard ship, the frugal water requirements of ships' cats leaves more for the sailors.

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If you throw in polydactyl ships' cats so they can maintain their balance while at sea (thanks to the extra toe!), you have a very useful working animal on board ship. It is said that polydactyl cats were preferred over standard cats because sailors believed that they could keep their balance better. I doubt the story but it makes a bit of sense.

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