Nutrition is essential for the good health and long life of every creature. Cats are not an exception. Young cats are especially pliable to nutritional imbalances and feeding errors. The feeding habits of the cat established after weaning are very important for its future health status. Cat owners should be familiar with the nutritional requirements of their cats.
Cats are carnivorous animals and cannot receive nutrition from the majority of vegetable proteins. Wild cats eat the whole of their preys – muscles, organs, viscera, bones, offal, skin. Thus, they ingest the digested food the prey has eaten. This gives the cat the opportunity to receive nutrition from various sources – meat and vegetable sources.
Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements – cats need more protein and have greater tolerance for fat.
We cannot mention one particular food that all cats will like. Cat foods can be found in different flavors and textures. When you find the food your cat likes, and if it meets the nutritional requirements, stick to it and don’t change it often because frequent changes may make the cat fastidious and may cause digestive problems.
What Do Cats Need?
Cat owners should choose foods that provide all necessary nutrients and promote the good health of their cat. There are foods specially developed for kittens, mature cats, pregnant cats, but all food should contain the following essential nutrients: water, proteins (essential amino acids and nitrogen), essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
Proteins provide energy. They contain amino acids which stimulate the body to rebuild tissues and to perform its functions. Fats are a good source of concentrated energy and unsaturated fatty acids. Minerals regulate the functions in cat’s body. Minerals include macro minerals – calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and micro minerals – copper, manganese, iron, and iodine. Vitamins are involved in many physiological processes and can be divided into two groups: fat-soluble – vitamins A, D, E and K, and water-soluble – thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12.
Types of Cat Food
There is a variety of cat foods on the market produced by different manufacturers. We can divide cat foods into three main categories:
It contains approximately 6-10% moisture and has an abrasive function, so it cleans the teeth and gums, and keeps them healthy. Dry foods have a long shelf life. Food that contains 34-38% protein and 19-22% fat provides a healthy balance.
Soft – Moist Food
It contains about 23-40% moisture and cat owners prefer it because it is convenient and has a long shelf life. However, soft-moist foods are more expensive than dry foods. You should be careful because soft-moist foods contain a lot of preservatives.
Canned food contains approximately 68-70% moisture and most cats like it most of all other foods. However, it is not recommended to feed your cat with canned food only because it sticks to the cat’s teeth and this may lead to dental problems.
You should give your cat small amounts of canned food two times per day and leave some dry food because most cats like eating dry food all day long.
What Should You be Careful About when You Feed Your Cat?
Cats don’t need to eat the whole day long. Do not give your cat more food than your vet has recommended. Distribute the amount of food into two or three meals and give it to the cat throughout the day.
Do not give your cat dog’s food because it doesn’t have the necessary amounts of protein and amino acids. For the same reason, avoid feeding the cat with vegetarian food. Do not over feed your cat as obesity can cause diseases, pre-mature aging and early death.
Do not give your cat chocolate, alcohol, onions, pork, raw fish, raw eggs and bones.
Consult your vet if your cat refuses to eat more than two days because fasting may be harmful and may cause serious liver problems.
Do not put your cat’s food near her litter box. Cats eat far away from the place she eliminates. If you put her food near her litter box, the cat may eliminate away from the litter box.
You shouldn’t give your cat hairball remedy around her meal because many hairball remedies and treats contain mineral oil or petroleum jelly which will extract the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the intestines.
Reduce the usage of tuna because it contains high levels of mercury.
Tips About Feeding your Cat
1. Cats that live free in the wild eat grass every day. Domestic cats will also eat grass if they have the opportunity, so cat owners should provide sources of green vegetation for their cats.
2. Milk is a food, not a drink. The only drink that cats use is water. Milk is a good source of calcium and phosphorus which make bones and teeth stronger. It also provides many vitamins and minerals. However, you should keep in mind that many cats cannot digest milk as they grow older.
3. Provide your cat with varied food. You can mix some of the new food with the old for 3-5 days in order to make gradual changes.
4. Cats should be fed in quiet parts of the house where no one will bother them because they feel vulnerable while they eat.
5. If you have more cats, you should provide each of them with a separate food bowl and you shouldn’t keep them close to each other while they are eating, because cats compete for their food and feel uncomfortable if they are too close to one another.
6. It is recommended that you don’t feed your cat from plastic bowl. Provide ceramic or stainless steel bowls because plastic dishes may give shelter to bacteria. Moreover, some cats may develop allergies to plastic and may get pimples on their chins.
7. Older cats would like you to raise their food and water bowl a few inches off the floor because this will make it easier on their backs and necks.
8. You should observe your pet closely after you give it new food. Any changes in the coat, appetite, weight or mood may indicate a problem. If you have any questions about the dietary plant of you cat, consult your vet for advices.
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