Cat Nutrition Requirements
Cat Nutrition Requirements: A well-fed and well-nourished cat is a happy cat. Although the occasional mouse caught outside may supplement your cat’s diet, he will rely on you almost exclusively for his food.
And that reliance places great responsibility on you. Providing your cat with a healthy, balanced diet will help him to grow and develop as he should, and give him the best chance of living a long life free of illness.
1.Vitamins and micro-nutrients
Vitamins and micro-nutrients are one of the most cat nutrition requirements. The vitamins needed for essential cat nutrition include D, K, E, B, and A (cats cannot manufacture vitamin A). They also need vitamin C, but intake of this vitamin should be monitored since cats can develop bladder stones if they have too much.
Cats also require certain micronutrients—for example, phosphorus, selenium, and sodium. Although these are only needed in tiny quantities, a lack of them can lead to serious health problems.
A source of calcium is vital too because calcium only occurs in small quantities in meat. Most commercial cat food contains all of these essential vitamins and micronutrients.
2.Wet or dry?
You should choose balanced food to satisfy the cat nutrition requirements. Most prepared cat food is described as “wet” or “dry.”
Wet food: comes in airtight cans or pouches, so it doesn’t need preservatives to keep it fresh. It is tasty but soft in texture, so it provides little resistance to keep teeth and gums healthy. If wet food is not eaten immediately, it will soon become unappealing to your cat.
Dry food: has been pressure-cooked and then dried. It is sprayed with fat to make it palatable, but this requires preservatives to be added. Dry foods usually includes antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, which are natural and beneficial to your cat.
Although you shouldn’t give your cat dry food all the time, it does have some advantages. It can, for example, be left out during the day without spoiling. You may want to give dry food in the morning and reserve the wet food for when you return from work in the evening.
3. Home-cooked food
Home-cooked food is very important to satisfy the cat nutrition requirements. For home-cooked meals, use meat and fish that’s fit for human consumption. Make sure it is well cooked to kill bacteria or parasites that could be dangerous.
Homemade meals are a good way of introducing well-cooked bones as a calcium source, but don’t offer them if your cat has not learned to eat bones or if he eats his food too quickly. The scraping action of bones keeps teeth in good shape; without them, your cat’s teeth will need regular cleaning.
4. Drinking requirements
- Drinking is very important to satisfy the cat nutrition requirements. All cats should be provided with a source of water, since water helps dilute the urine and is absorbed by fiber in the gut.
- Caution should be taken with giving cats milk or cream, since many adult cats lack the enzyme necessary to digest the lactose sugar in dairy products and may get diarrhea.
- Special “cat milk” can now be bought; alternatively, use milk for lactose-intolerant humans available at supermarkets.
5. Foods to avoid
- As well as milk and cream, other foods to avoid include raw fish, which contains enzymes that can be harmful to cats.
- Onions and garlic can cause anemia, while green tomatoes and green (raw) potatoes—and especially their leaves— contain a poisonous alkaloid that produces violent gastrointestinal symptoms, so keep these items out of reach.
- Chocolate is highly toxic to cats, and grapes and raisins may harm the kidneys.
6. When and how much to feed
To satisfy the cat nutrition requirements, you should know when and how much to feed?
Generally, your cat should be fed twice a day at regular times. This will allow him to build up an appetite and you to regulate how much he eats.
Once you have established a regular feeding regime, it will be easy to tell if your cat is not eating and feeling unwell.
The feeding guides printed on packets of prepared food are only estimates, and they may need to be increased or decreased depending on how your cat looks and feels when handled.
As a guideline, you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs easily but not see them. Make sure you never feed an adult cat kitten food or dog food— kitten food contains too much protein and will be bad for an adult cat’s kidneys; conversely, dog food does not contain enough protein for a cat.
Make sure your cat’s food and water bowls are always washed thoroughly after use.
7. The right balance
You should choose the right balance to satisfy your cat nutrition requirements. Cats enjoy variety, and it is important that they are fed a mix of different foods to ensure they get adequate nutrition.
Make any changes to your cat’s diet gradually, so that he can build up enough bacteria in his system to digest the new food. Once you’ve found a balanced diet that your cat likes, stick to it.
Constantly changing his food may encourage him to become a fussy eater, and cats can hold out for days until you give them what they want.
8. Special diets
Select the special diets your cat need to satisfy your cat nutrition requirements. Your cat’s dietary needs will change throughout his life.
Kittens need lots of protein, fat, and calories to support their rapid growth. Use specially formulated kitten food to avoid deficiencies that could cause problems later in life. For the first week after bringing your kitten home, give him the same food that he has eaten since weaning.
To introduce a new food, replace 10 percent of the original food with the new food, increasing the proportion by 10 percent daily until your kitten is eating only the new food by the tenth day—this will prevent diarrhea. If he does get an upset stomach, revert to a higher proportion of the old food and take longer to make the switchover.
A pregnant cat needs extra protein and vitamins, and will want to eat more in the final stages of pregnancy. This may mean giving her smaller meals more frequently if she cannot eat as much as usual at a time. She will also have increased nutritional requirements when nursing.
Older cats use less energy, so they need fewer calories in their diet. They may need special food to aid a more delicate digestive system.
For cats with medical conditions and overweight cats, use a diet recommended by your vet. An approved weight-loss diet ensures that an obese cat loses weight but stays nourished and still eats a satisfying volume of food. Food allergies in cats are rare, but when they occur the only way to find the cause is through a food-elimination trial supervised by your vet.
9. The role of treats
Whether given as rewards in training or to aid bonding with your cat, try to ration treats to avoid weight gain in your cat. Ensure that 10 percent maximum of your cat’s calorie intake comes from treats.
Some treats may give nutritional benefits that your cat won’t get from his normal food; others contain filler ingredients with little nutritional value and a lot of fat. Learn to distinguish good ingredients from bad.
- IT’S TREAT TIME ? Rewards for learning new tricks will reinforce training, while treats given when you leave for work and return home can be something your pet looks forward to.
- WHICH TREAT? Treats come in many different meat and fish flavors. Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t overfeed your cat.
10. Life Stage Feeding
Establishing life stage feeding to satisfy your cat nutrition requirements. Cats require different foods at different stages of their life. Just like all creatures, including us, they change as they grow. And so do their food requirements.
The first meal a kitten has is from his mother. The colostrum in her milk passes along protection in the form of her antibodies against illnesses for which she has been vaccinated. The kittens knead the mother, causing the milk to move to the nipples, where they can suck and be nourished.
Kittens need extra protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals for optimum nutrition during this stage of rapid growth and development. Since kit- tens are so active, they require more energy, hence the need for extra protein. Their bones and supporting tissue and muscle are also growing rapidly, and that means they need the extra nutritional support they get from a kitten formula food.
During the middle years of his life, your cat will eat a basic maintenance diet. Senior diets are reserved for elderly cats who are no longer as active as they once were.
Our seniors are such treasures, no matter if we’ve had them from kittenhood or brought them home as adults. By the time a cat is a senior, your close relationship is such a comfort to both of you. You’ll need to think about things that will make your older kitty more comfortable, and one of them is diet.
If your cat was finicky before, he may well become even more so, and his favorite food suddenly may not interest him. Your cat may not drink enough water, which is vital, so you’ll have to be sure he does. This may be the time to switch to a canned-food diet, because canned food has a high water content. You might put a bit of tuna juice or low- salt chicken broth into the cat’s water or on the food to encourage kitty to drink.
Like people, older cats can get fatter because they are less active. However, in senior cats (those age 12 and over) energy requirements go up and lean body mass goes down, so they need to take in more food to maintain their body weight. One in three senior cats has a reduced ability to digest fat, and one in five has a reduced ability to digest protein. They are not absorbing the nutrition as well as they did when they were younger and can become malnourished even though they are eating as much as they always did.
As in people, renal disease, diabetes, and cancer are more likely to develop in cats later in life. That’s why if your cat has an unexplained weight loss, he needs to be seen by the veterinarian right away.
Studies have shown that cats lose weight two to two-and-a-half years before a terminal event. Keeping weight on your senior cat can help him live a healthier life. This doesn’t mean a fat cat, but a normal weight for the cat’s size.
Most senior cat foods are formulated for middle-aged cats, not the true geriatric cat. What can you do? If you can’t find a nutrient-dense food for seniors, buy a kitten food instead, because kittens also need food that is dense in nutrients.
At every age, your cat should always have fresh water available at all times, in a clean bowl or a water fountain. You wouldn’t want to drink stale standing water, and neither does your kitty. Nor would you want to drink from a dirty glass. Please remember this when it comes to caring for kitty.
Cats love water fountains. They filter the water and aerate it. Watching the water running down into the bowl is also quite fascinating, which makes it all the more interesting to drink. And some cats like to drink right out of the faucet in your sink. If you have no problem with this, you can buy a special spigot that the cat can touch to turn the water on, and it will turn off when the cat walks away. That is better for the environment than letting water drip for kitty all day and night.
11. Avoiding the Fussy Feline Foodie
- Cats are notoriously fussy about their food. They often get so accustomed to one food that they won’t touch anything else. You might think that’s good, but it’s a double-edged sword. If your cat gets sick and requires a veterinary diet, he’s not going to eat it, and that’s going to cause problems.
- To keep your cat from becoming a fussy eater, frequently offer him a side dish of another food or another flavor. You can give him a variety of foods, as well—just be sure the protein amount is in the same range and that you’re not overfeeding him.
- Some cats like to take food straight from your plate. This is more a case of manners than anything else. If the food itself won’t hurt the cat, that’s fine. But you may want to place his share in his dish rather than allowing him to eat from your plate—unless all of your guests are like-minded people who will enjoy sharing with a feline dinner companion.
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