When you acquire a new kitten or cat, it is strongly recommended
that you find out exactly what the cat was being fed previously, and feed the cat this exact
same food. If you want to change the diet, this must be done very gradually. The new food must be mixed with the old food, a little at a
time, increasing the percentage of the new food in relation to the old
food gradually over a two week period. Far too many new cat owners believe
that they can instantly give the new cat a complete change of diet, and find
out too late that this causes the cat to have diarrhea and possibly becoming very ill.
There are many varieties of cat foods to choose from whether you are shopping
at the grocery or at the pet supply store. Choosing the right food for your cat is
important if you want your cat to live a long and healthy life. Inferior food will lack
certain elements that will shorten your cats life or lower their immunities to disease and
parasites. In addition, they leave a lot more deposits in the litter pan.
Two very important things to look for on the bag is the
AAFCO statement. This will state this diet has been found adequate by the Association of
American Feed Control (AAFCO). Also look for a statement on the label that describes the
food as complete, balanced,
perfect or scientific. If both of these are not present you can assume that it is not a
complete or quality food and you should look at another product. The first four items
listed on the bad should be some sort of meat.
Generally, the safest thing to do is to buy from large,
well-known manufacturers as they have the money to do extensive testing. Also you can call
the manufacturers phone number that should be on the bag and ask them questions about the
testing and qualities
of ingredients that they include in their product. Also it is a good idea to find out what
brand of food the breeder or rescue group has been feeding your cat. If a change is needed
then it needs to be done very gradually over a period of a week or two.
Cats are carnivores. They require a food that is high in
protein including certain amino acids like taurine, and fat. In nature, if they were
eating a fresh caught mouse the mouse would mostly consist of muscle tissue (main source
of protein and amino acids), bones (main source of calcium), hair (fiber, minerals and
protein) and inner organs (predigested grains with B vitamins and enzymes). Below you will
find why each of these are important to your cat. Some things, like calcium and magnesium,
on the other hand, need to be a low % of the diet to ensure optimal health.
Protein consumed by your cat provides him with Amino Acids
in which the cat will reassemble into the protein parts of his body. Some Amino Acids
essential and some are nonessential. Essential amino acids must be obtained from the foods
where nonessential can be synthesized by the cats body. Taurine is a very important
essential amino acid that is vital in a cats health. Before the importance of Taurine was
discovered many cats had developed feline cardiomyopathy, heart failure, central retinal
degeneration and blindness and reproductive problems due to the shortage of Taurine in
their diets. Manufacturers have since corrected this problem by adding it to their foods.
Providing a rounded variety of meat, poultry, fish and dairy will ensure that your cat
receives a healthy balance of the essential and nonessential amino acids.
The digestibility of the proteins is important too. Highly
digestible proteins come from muscle tissues of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy
products. Other parts of animals used in manufacturing foods, such as beaks, feathers and
bones are not as highly digestible. Grain proteins are found somewhere in the middle of
Carbohydrates are not part of the "natural diet"
of a cat but can be used by the cat. They break them down and convert the sugars into more
complex carbohydrates. However, the fiber found in foods helps keep the cat's digestive
system healthy and helps prevent diarrhea and constipation.
About 40% of a cat's calories come from this category. Fats
from animal sources help transport certain vitamins and aid in absorption of vitamins. Fat
also aids in the appeal of the food to the cat. This high demand for fat and proteins is
why cats will not thrive on dog
foods. They do not provide near enough of the percentages that a cat needs.
Vitamins are divided into two categories, water-soluble and
fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins include the B vitamins, niacin,
folic acid, biotin, choline and Vitamin C. If these vitamins are consumed in excess the
body will eliminate them through urine. Fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and
K. Since these are fat soluble they can not be eliminated and will build up in the cats
system if given in excess which could lead to toxic levels. Please consult with a
veterinarian before supplementing these particular vitamins.
*Oil based hairball remedies can interfere with the
absorption of vitamins and shouldnt be used over long term.
Minerals that your cat needs are potassium, magnesium, zinc,
calcium, iron, phosphorous and sodium chloride. These are a very minute part of the
dietary balance for a cat but does help ensure proper health and immunities. On the other
hand, cats require a diet lower in calcium and magnesium than some foods offer. Male cats,
especially, may be prone to developing urinary tract disease if fed a diet high in calcium
and magnesium (among other things, fish is naturally very high in both and generally to be
Approximately 70% of your cats make-up is water. Clean and
fresh water needs to be available at all times for the cat. Nutrients are carried and
wastes are removed by water. Canned foods are high in water, but consequently much lower
in nutrition than dry foods. Thus, it is generally recommended that cats be free fed dry
food (i.e. have dry food always available) and also always have easy access to a water
source. It is suggested that canned food only be used for a "treat".
When a quality food is used that has the proper balance of
all these properties the cat will have a very healthy coat (strong hair and not oily),
clear eyes, strong immune system, proper weight and small firm stools.
Proper weight can be decided by feeling the cats ribs and backbone. If ribs are prominent
then the cat is to thin. If the ribs can not be felt at all then the cat is obese.
If a cat is underweight the backbone of the cat can be felt easily.
Problems with obese
include diabetes, joint problems, breathing problems, liver problems and also skin
problems because often the cat cant reach around to properly clean himself. Talk to
your vet about your cats weight. There are "light" or "senior"
formulas available that have lower levels of fat to help reduce a cats weight.
Low weight may signal inadequate nutrition, parasites or
more serious illnesses. Again, consult your vet for diagnosis, and for high nutrition
veterinary diets if your cat is underweight.
Treats can be given to a cat as long as they are not taking
the place of quality, nutritious foods. Treats are often not nutritionally balanced. Also
be aware that if you give treats from your plate this will encourage begging and will not
provide a balanced nutrition. You should also avoid feeding spicy foods or foods with
onion. Many cats are also lactose intolerant and have problems with dairy products.
Sometimes that treat dish of cows milk can make your cat very uncomfortable.
Whether your cat has an upset stomach, needs some fiber or
just likes to nibble on your plants, you can have a cat garden just for your cat. Plants
that you can have available for your cat to munch healthily on are Catnip, Valerian,
Alfalfa, Rye, Wheat, Parsley and Thyme. There are also dangerous
plants that your cat should not be allowed to eat.