Nutrition For Your Healthy Cat

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No one can say how long an individual cat will live. But she is your cat, your faithful friend; you obviously want to have her with you as long as possible.

It has been recognised by Veterinary Surgeons for some time that nutrition can play an important part in maintaining your cat's health and vitality. Certain nutrient changes are needed throughout your cat's life, what is right for a kitten can be harmful to the older cat.

Cats are natural carnivores so require a very special and different diet to that of other animals such as high levels of top quality protein and food enriched in taurine an essential amino acid found in muscle meat only. Excess levels of magnesium are also required in all cats' diets to help prevent a number of urinary tract problems, which cats can develop.

There are a number of specially formulated premium foods, which have been specially formulated, to ensure health growth and keep her healthy at each stage of her life. An example of the Veterinary formulated diets is the Royal Canin diet which we can advise you on at Abbey Vets. Our Veterinary Surgeon will be able to give you the advice of the appropriate diet for your kitten or cat. For a long time Vets and nutritionist's have been recommending to feed a commercially produced food, especially a premium food rather than home made diets, which unless carefully formulated can be potentially harmful for your cat.

Kittens - click here for information on kitten care

As a general guide, kittens require more: Calcium and phosphorus to help build strong bones; protein to help develop strong muscles, more calories for increased energy expenditure and fatty acids for a healthy coat, and a diet enriched with taurine an essential amino acid for cats. Kittens require more of these nutrients, than mature cats do.

The Pregnant and Nursing Queen

Should be fed a diet almost identical to the kittens diet as she is providing so much of the nourishment for the kittens at this time, energy rich formulation will help to maintain her own body weight.

The Adult Cat

Control of excessive nutrients is vital for an adult cat, so reducing the levels of nutrients than those of a kitten is vital. Carefully controlled levels of fatty acids for a healthy glossy coat, high-quality protein to maintain muscles, and sensible levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. Excess levels of sodium and phosphorus should be controlled. It is also essential to avoid excess levels of magnesium, which can contribute to urinary tract problems, such as crystals or stones. These can be a very distressing and potentially a life threatening condition.

The Less Active or Weight Prone Cat

Being overweight puts potentially dangerous stress on every bone, muscle and organ, including the heart in your cat's body.

A specially formulated fibre rich, calorie reduced diet is essential to help prevent obesity in some cats. Some cats are genetically predisposed to becoming overweight, and some neutered animals are also at risk from becoming obese.

Feeding an appropriate 'light' diet will help your cat to feel full and satisfied and reduce the intake of calories at the same time, this will keep your cat, happy and healthy and stop you from feeding guilty about reducing the quantity of foods given. The other benefit is it also maintains all of the other essential nutrients required by an adult cat.

The Senior/Older Cat. Click here for information about senior cat care

As cats get older, the kidney function often declines. An excessive intake of phosphorus can lead to further kidney damage, and too much salt can contribute to higher blood pressure, which may make heart or kidney problems worse. An increased level of fibre to prevent constipation is also beneficial. Some new diets which are easy to chew and gentle on your older cat's teeth and gums are also available.

A carefully controlled diet in all of these nutrients is required for the older cat, to help keep your companion as long possible.

Table of nutrient requirements for different life-stages
Nutrient Requirements Kitten Weaning to 9months. Small breeds. Pregnant and nursing bitch Adult cats from maturity to 7 years For the less active/Weight prone adult cat For the older cat from 7 years
Fat - energy Arrow Up OptimumArrow Down Arrow Down Double Arrow Down
Protein Arrow Up Optimum Optimum Arrow Down
Fibre Arrow Right Optimum Arrow Up Arrow Up
Calcium Arrow Up Optimum Optimum Arrow Down
Phosphorous Arrow Up Optimum Optimum Arrow Double Down
Sodium Arrow Right Optimum Optimum Arrow Double Down
Magnesium Arrow Down Optimum Optimum Arrow Down
Taurine Arrow Right Optimum Optimum Optimum

General feeding guide

  • When switching your cat to any new food, gradually introduce it over a 5-day period. Mix it with your cat's former food, gradually increasing the proportion until only the new food is being fed.
  • You can tell if your cat is the ideal weight when you can feel, but not see his ribs. To be sure of his ideal weight consult the Veterinary Surgery.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • If you are switching from a canned food to a dry food, expect your pet to drink a lot more water, most commercially produced tinned food is made up of over 80%, which provides a large amount of drinking water for your cat.
  • The best way to measure the quality of a pet food is to measure what goes in compared to what is passed out. Many inexpensive pet food, provide a lot of filler's which may make it look good value, but a lot of the food is not utilised by the animal and there is more to clean up afterwards.
  • If your pet refuses to eat for more than 48 hours, discuss the problem with our Veterinary Surgeon immediately.
  • If you are feeding a premium or commercially prepared pet food, it is not necessary to give any additional supplements; in fact this may do more harm than good.
  • Most feeding guides on pet food are to be used as a guide only. Our Veterinary Surgery will advise you on the most appropriate amount for your cat.

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