Feline Nutrition and Diet | 1st Pet Veterinary Centers
Knowing about the particular foods that cats need to thrive, you can provide your own with a long, happy life. Read this blog to learn more.
FAQs About Feline Nutrition and Diet
If you’ve never owned a cat before, you probably have many questions about how to take care of your newly adopted feline friend, including concerns about diet and nutrition. Before you run to the store to buy cat food, you have to understand what nutrients, in what portions, will best suit your cat’s individual needs.
Once you know why cats need particular kinds of foods, how many calories your cat should eat, and how to respond to a medical condition that might involve specific dietary considerations, you can give your cat a happier, healthier, better-fed life. Start by studying these frequently asked questions and their answers.
Why Can’t Cats Just Eat Dog Food?
Since dogs seem to thrive on both animal and non-animal food sources, you might assume that your cat can do equally well with a range of menu items. However, while cats can safely eat small amounts of dog food on occasion, they can’t get adequate nutrition from it as dogs can. As true carnivores, cats must get most of their nutrients from meat, though they do still need fats as well as some carbohydrates and vitamins / minerals. Their bodies cannot produce as wide a range of vitamins and amino acids as their canine counterparts. Animal products provide cats with such essential nutrients as taurine, arachidonic acid, and vitamin A. For example, cats that do not get enough taurine can have severe effects to their heart that can lead to heart failure as well as possibly developing blindness. Cats also need a more protein-rich diet than dogs.
How Much Should You Feed Your Cat?
Even after you’ve chosen a veterinarian-recommended cat food that offers a full spectrum of nutrients, you must still feed your cat a healthy quantity of that food each day. However, a cat’s caloric needs typically change over the course of its life. If you don’t adjust your cat’s intake accordingly, you may end up with an obese pet.
Young kittens require more fuel than older cats due to their boundless energy level and rapid growth rate. You may need to feed your kitten five meals a day to keep up with these requirements, doling them out in small portions suitable for a small stomach. Adults usually need no more than two meals a day. Your cat’s body burns calories even when at rest, with the number of calories depending on its weight. You can consult a resting energy requirements (RER) chart to see how many calories will sustain this weight level, taking into consideration the “factor” for your cat’s unique specifications. You can also use it to calculate how caloric restrictions may bring your cat down to a healthier weight, but these values are just starting points / averages for cats and so if you are feeding the amounts listed on a chart like this and your pet still is not losing weight, then you should discuss what changes should be made with your veterinarian.
When Does Your Cat Need to Lose Weight?
Some cats naturally appear bulkier than others. For example, a longhaired cat may present a bigger, rounder profile than a shorthaired cat. However, you need to know when your cat has packed on too many pounds. Obesity in cats can lead to chronic problems such as joint pain, diabetes, skin conditions, and urinary issues.
You can sometimes tell whether your cat suffers from obesity by gazing down at it from above. A cat whose body bulges outward instead of sporting a visible waistline may have a weight problem (or another medical issue). If you can’t easily feel your cat’s ribs beneath its hair, skin, and fat without having to push through the layer of “padding” (fat), schedule a wellness exam that includes a weight check.
What Specialized Diets Might Some Cats Need?
An obese cat should respond well to dietary and nutritional changes. Your veterinarian may advise you to reduce your cat’s portion sizes and/or reduce the fat content in its food. Ask this professional to recommend a food formulated to help cats lose weight at a safe pace without depriving them of key nutrients. Other medical issues may also call for specialized diets. Your veterinarian may prescribe a specific dietary formula to help your cat cope with liver disease, kidney failure, diabetes, a urinary system problem, or a bowel condition. Cats suffering from food allergies can benefit from hypoallergenic diets.
If you want to set your cat on the right course for a healthier life, bring it to 1st Pet Veterinary Centers for an evaluation. Our team can check your cat’s current state of health and provide any necessary care, including weight management plans and nutritional counseling. Contact any of our locations today.