What to feed your Cat
Many cat owners take pleasure in sharing table scraps with their pets. In most circumstances, cats can digest almost all human foods, so there is no direct danger in feeding your cat “people food.” Proceed with caution, however; there are a few foods that are toxic to felines, and even those that are digestible do not necessarily meet all of a cat’s nutritional needs.
Most commercial cat foods, both dry and canned, are formulated to provide your cat with the vitamins and minerals it needs, including taurine, an amino acid in meat organs which is vital to your cat’s health. Since cats eat only when they are hungry, loading up your kitty on table scraps will prevent her from eating her specially-formulated food, and she could develop vitamin deficiencies.
Like humans, cats can develop food allergies, so watch for possible adverse reactions to the food you provide. Also, despite the cherished image of cats lapping up bowls of milk, many felines are actually lactose intolerant.
Many pet owners believe that cats should eat raw meat because it approximates what the animals eat in the wild. But beware: cats can catch e. coli and salmonella as easily as humans. For this reason, the raw meat diet is controversial. Cooked meat is fine, and your cat will love it.
Certain foods that are safely enjoyed by humans are absolutely poisonous, and possibly fatal, to cats: chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes (including raisins), caffeine, alcohol and xylitol (a sweetener commonly found in chewing gum). Also, you can feed the following to your cat only if it is cooked, not raw: potatoes, tomatoes, paprika, chili pepper, eggplant. These are all in the potato family, and are dangerous to cats in their raw forms.
Cats need to eat mostly meat, though some fruit, vegetables and whole grains are good for them too, for the extra fiber and nutrients. For the healthiest diet, avoid feeding your cat foods containing corn, soy or artificial colors.
Health Food for Cats
Whether commercial or home-cooked, the food you feed your cat must provide 41 essential nutrients and these may vary depending on age, breed or lifestyle. A healthy cat food is one that provides the full range of nutritional requirements.
Cats are carnivores. They have difficulty digesting vegetable protein, and unlike dogs, will not thrive on a vegetarian diet. You need to include a good source of animal protein in their diet such as chicken, lamb, turkey, fish or egg. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, some being essential in the diet as a cat’s body cannot synthesize them in sufficient quantity. Essential amino acids include arginine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, methionine, histidine, tryptophan, threonine, leucine, lysine, valine and taurine. Of these, taurine is only found in animal protein and is needed for prevention of eye and heart disease, as well as reproduction.
Animal fat or seed oils provide a concentrated source of energy for a cat, and are involved in cell function and structure. Fats in the diet not only provide energy but also essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. If your cat’s diet is lacking essential fatty acids, this may lead to reduced growth or skin problems. Fat also enhances the taste and texture of the food, making it more palatable.
Carbohydrates contribute an additional source of energy, and most cat foods contain cereals of one kind or another. However, just as a cat has problems digesting vegetable protein, the same is true of some fibers found in carbohydrates. For this reason it is usual to include the starchy portion of cereals such as rice, corn and barley, which is more easily digested.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals play their part in tens of thousands of chemical reactions in the body, and deficiencies of any in the long-term will cause health problems. A cat food which is sold as “complete” will usually contain all the vitamins and minerals necessary for health and well-being and therefore supplementation is not necessary, unless a vitamin deficiency is diagnosed by a veterinarian.
Finding a healthy food for your cat is made easier by the wide range of choices available. There are diets suitable for kittens through to seniors, as well as indoor and outdoor cats. Some manufacturers even cater to specific breeds. There are also home-cooked recipes available, although these should be checked first by a veterinary nutritionist to ensure that they are well balanced. Current pet food labeling regulations mean you can be reasonably confident about the quality of ingredients used in pet food.
Dangerous Foods for Cats
While you may know that chewing on houseplants is bad for cats, you may be unsure whether feeding your cat a few table scraps is safe. If you are a cat owner, it’s important to know which human foods are unhealthy or dangerous for cats and how to protect your feline friend from consuming dangerous foods
Types of foods that are dangerous for cats include alcohol, chocolate, chicken bones, grapes, raisins, green tomatoes, onions and garlic.
The effects of dangerous foods can range from heart and nervous system damage (chocolate), kidney damage (grapes and raisins), anemia (onions and garlic) and choking or perforation of the digestive system (splinters from bones). Too much alcohol or repeated exposure to dangerous foods can eventually lead to death in cats.
Size is a factor when it comes to dangerous foods for pets. While a 50-lb. dog might get sick from eating an entire chocolate bar, it probably would not die; a 12-lb. cat could experience much more severe symptoms or even death from eating less than half the same candy bar.
While it’s been common practice in the past to feed saucers of milk to cats and kittens, dairy products are often not good for cats. Like some humans, many cats are lactose intolerant, and large amounts of dairy in the diet can cause diarrhea.
Items that don’t have obvious chunks of dangerous foods may still be toxic to cats. For instance, chips or crackers that are flavored with onion powder or garlic powder may make your cat sick.
If you believe your cat has eaten dangerous foods, contact your vet or the local veterinary hospital right away. Make notes about what foods were eaten and in what quantity to help assist your vet with risk assessment.
Medical Food for Cats
Medical food, or a prescription diet, is a type of food available only through prescription by a veterinarian. Cats must be examined by a vet and diagnosed with a condition that requires it
There are prescription diets to benefit cats with various diseases and conditions, including kidney disease, kidney failure, food allergies, bladder issues, irritable bowel disease, various skin conditions and dental issues.
A prescription diet may require specific amounts to be fed to the cat throughout the day. Amounts will vary based on the cat’s specific needs and can be determined through a consultation with your vet.
Benefits will vary from cat to cat, based on the specific ailment and prescribed diet. For example, a cat suffering from food allergies who is prescribed a hypoallergenic diet may no longer suffer from itchy skin or other allergy symptoms.
Not all cats require a prescription diet. Check the ingredients–some prescribed diets contain poorer nutrition than non-prescription brands. And some veterinarians push prescription diets onto cat owners because they receive a commission for selling the food.
While a prescription diet may seem like a good idea, some owners may wish to seek alternative options. Holistic foods are often higher quality and can also improve the health of a cat, without the high cost.
14 May, 2014
by cnkguy with no comments yet.