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 cat 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.
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.
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 cat diet in all of these nutrients is required for the older cat, to help keep your companion as long possible.
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.
We have over time; become used to advances in medicine for ourselves and in changes in Veterinary medicine for our animals, new drugs for treatment and the management of diseases, new types of surgical procedures. An area which has become significant in it’s area of research in Veterinary medicine is: Prescription nutrition, In fact prescription nutrition for cats is known to have been researched as far back as 1948 in the United States by a Vet called Dr Mark Morris. He created the first Prescription Diet product, a discovery that has lead to many different companies offering Prescription Diets for your pet, including Royal Canin, the brand that we recommend at our practice. Since then prescription Nutrition has grown to be an important component of Veterinary Medicine with innovative products that give sick and disease prone dogs and cats nutritional support during and after therapy.
Prescription Diets are only available through the Veterinary Surgeon and it is important that they are involved in the selection and monitoring of the diet, disease and your cat, so that the best prognosis can be achieved.
Different health problems require different forms of nutritional support. Researchers recognised the link between successful therapy and supportive nutrition years before researchers in human medicine reached the same conclusions and through Royal Canin we can ensure your pet receives the best nutritional support throughout each stage of their life.
A variety of formulas are available to support your cat including:
- Adverse reactions to foods
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gastro intestinal disease
- Pancreatic disorders
- Cancer care
- Liver disorders
- Kidney disease
- Weight control
- Dental health
- Urolithiasis (bladder stones)
- Urinary Tract disease
- Pre and post surgical conditions
If your cat is diagnosed as having a disease or nutrition related disorder, it is comforting to know that, in many cases, a change in diet really can help to manage and control the problem.
Help with switching your cats food
If the Vet has recommended a change in your cat’s food and he has been a creature of habit, you may need some help in switching to a new way of eating.
- Gradually introduce the new food over a 5-10 day period, unless instructed otherwise by the Veterinary Surgeon.
- Mix the new diet with your cat’s former food, gradually increasing the proportion until only the new food is being fed.
- Do not supplement your cat’s new food unless instructed otherwise by the Veterinary Surgeon. Do not feed treats, snacks, table scraps, leftovers, or any food other than that which the Veterinary Surgeon recommends.
- Keep a clean bowl of fresh water available at all times.
If your cat has trouble giving up his familiar food
- Warm canned food to body temperature (but not any hotter), before feeding.
- Hand feed the new cat diet for the first few days.
- If your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, discuss the problem with the Veterinary Surgeon immediately.
If you are still experiencing difficulties, please discuss these with the Veterinary Surgeon.
In the U.K alone, over 47% of cats are overweight. The definition of which is, when a pets weight is up to 15% above it’s ideal weight then it can be considered as being overweight. If it is more than 15% above it’s ideal weight then it is considered to be obese.
What is the cause?
Weight gain in pets is normally as a result of an increase in body fat. The most common cause is a pet eating too many calories (just like ourselves) We often like to treat our pets, but sometimes giving them “human” treats such as crisps and chocolate can contain up to half of their daily required calorie in-take. Too many calories combined with a lack of exercise can also exacerbate the problem. If more energy is being gained from food than is being used, the surplus will be stored as fat.
Other causes, include:
Medical disorders – sometimes weight gain is associated with a medical disorder, which may require investigations and or treatment – speak to the Vet.
Neutering or spaying – Pets, which have been neutered, have a higher risk of weight gain because of their altered metabolism. (However neutering has many other positive health benefits)
Age – Older pets are often less active and if so require fewer calories.
How do I know if my cat is overweight?
The best thing to do is visit the Veterinary Practice regularly, to have your cat assessed and weighed. Many practices offer pet weight control clinics as a free service, because they understand the importance of preventative health and your cats weight could, be associated with some other health problems such as:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Heart disease
- Skin disease
- Arthritis or other joint problems
- Breathing difficulties
- An increased surgical risk
Other signs that your cat is overweight are:
- You cannot feel your cat’s ribs
- Loss of your cat’s waist and more bulk around their hips
- Slow to move and difficulty in walking
- No energy and sleeps a lot
- Short of breath
How can I reduce my cat’s weight without starving her?
Just reducing the amount of food your cat normally eats will usually fail, as your cat will become very hungry and will be begging for more food, the added problem is by decreasing the amount of their normal food, not only reduces the calorie content but also reduces all of the other vital nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fortunately today, we have available to our pets special prescription diets which are carefully nutritionally balanced, yummy to eat, low in calories, available in canned and dry and make the cat feel full with fibre, so she will not continually badger you for more food (it is a pity that they have not produced one for people) The Veterinary Surgeon will be the best person to advise and support you through this process.
Useful tips while your cat is losing weight.
Work with the Veterinary Practice, they often provide free support and pet weight checks.
If the practice advices you to follow a particular health and weight programme do stick with it, so your cat will obtain the health benefits in the long term and you will have a happy, active cat.
Make every one in the family and neighbourhood aware, your cat is on a weight control programme and ask for their help. They could spoil a week’s work with a few small titbits.
Do not overfeed the recommended amount, always follow the Vets advice or follow the guide on the side of the pack.
Do use an appropriate specially formulated food for weight loss. Many so-called “light foods” are only designed to prevent and maintain weight loss. They are not very effective at ensuring weight loss, safely, over the shortest period of time, speak to the Vet, who will advise you.
Feed your overweight cat separately from the other pets in the house.
Keep your cat out of the room when you are eating or preparing the families meals, to avoid them begging and you giving into temptation.
Reward your cat with cuddles, plenty of strokes or playing games rather than with food. If you feel you have to give your pet a treat, hand feed her a small proportion of her diet food. Or ask the Vet about special prescription treats, which are low in calories.
Encourage, regular moderate exercise to improve your cat’s health and well being and help control her weight. Cat toys area good investment. Do check with the Vet if you are planning a new health regime.
Ensure your pet has a regular weight check at the Veterinary practice to closely monitor his weight loss and obtain continued support and advice.
When your cat has achieved her goal, do continue to feed your cat on an appropriate lower calorie maintenance food to help prevent the extra weight returning. You have done extremely well; do not undo all of your hard work.
When you and your cat have achieved your goal, you will both benefit from a whole new lease of life, your cat will feel happy, healthy and fit again and you will have your bouncy kitten-like cat again. Well done.