Species-Specific Diets: Fundamentals of Feeding Your Feline Sunday 16 July 2017 @ 10:46
In our last post, we talked about how you might go about beginning to socialise your shy cat. We explained how you can use tasty snacks to encourage her to play with you, but to make sure they’re healthy: Loading your feline friend up with unhealthy treats won’t help anyone, and will just give you and your pet a whole new problem to deal with. Always make sure you’re feeding your pet a diet appropriate to their species and full of nutrients and fresh foods.
One of the key ingredients for your cat’s health is her diet. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the most important aspects of feline nutrition. Putting some time and thought into the food you give your cats can save them from suffering unnecessarily from malnutrition-related illnesses, as well as saving you from unnecessary vet bills. Our main takeaway point? Do not feed your cat on a diet of only dry food.
Cats may be cute and fluffy, but they still have many of the skills and structures inherited from their larger ancestors. As a result, they need a diet that gives them all of the necessary nutrients that will let them run, pounce and play and keep them healthy. Your furry friend is an obligate carnivore, meaning she has evolved to have her nutritional needs met by consuming animal-based proteins from the meat and organs of other animals. It also means she is able to get significantly less nutritional value from the plant-based proteins in vegetables and grains than we can, as she lacks the appropriate enzymes.
Not all proteins are created equal. Animal proteins - the ones your cat needs - have a full complement of amino acids, the building blocks that make up a protein. Plant proteins, meanwhile, do not have all of these amino acids. Dogs and humans can take plant proteins and process them to replace the missing pieces, allowing them to enjoy their full nutritional value. This is why humans are able to happily live as vegetarians. Cats, however, do not have the wherewithal to do this.
We know you aren’t stupid: we aren’t functioning under the belief that our readers are lovingly force-feeding their cats broccoli, encouraging them to chase carrots and parsnips across the floor. We know that you know your cat needs meat. What you may not know, however, is that the protein in dry cat food is often heavily plant-based, despite being advertised as a balanced and nutritious meal for your cat. Meanwhile, the protein in wet, canned cat food is more likely to be meat-based.
One of the most vital nutrients that your cat can get from meat, taurine, is missing from plants. A lack of this nutrient in your cat’s diet has the potential to cause heart problems and blindness. But plant proteins are cheaper to attain than meat proteins, so pet food companies are going to continue using wheat, rice, soy and corn in their foods because it’ll increase their profit margin.
Along with protein, the other main consideration you need to take into account in your cat’s diet is water. Water is vital to the survival of every living thing, from cats to caterpillars, but cats do not have a very high thirst drive compared to other animals like humans and dogs. This is why it’s very important that your cat takes in a certain amount of water as part of their diet through wet canned or homemade foods. Without this, your cat risks dehydration and urinary tract diseases, especially if she has any issues with her kidneys.
N.B.: Many people choose to feed their cat dried foods for financial reasons. If this is the case, it’s recommended you try to feed your friend a combination of wet and dry food, if you can afford it. Advice given on this blog is not to be taken over that given by your vet.
Above all else, our aim is to make sure as many pets as possible get to be with families who will love them and give them all the care they need no matter what, and this includes reuniting wandering animals with their worried parents. Here are just a few of our recent success stories!
“Lilly is home!!!
THANK YOU so much for the advice and encouragement, and the help of everyone who shared the post and sent support.
We searched for her late at night and in the early morning, put litter and food outside and left a handful of litter on the corners nearby hoping she'd pick up the scent.
We don't know where she was or what might have helped – she just turned up at the window meowing frantically. She has lost a bit of weight but otherwise fine. We’re very happy and relieved.”
Kev has been found and is now in solitary confinement, with all lock picks confiscated!
Thanks to the neighbour 4 houses down, who contacted me this afternoon after seeing one of the Pet Alert Flyers from the LPF site.
His favourite treats were his downfall (but enabled me to catch him.)
Cat door removed entirely.”
“Thank you for the comfort of this listing Tigger returned 10-7-2017.. Very thin, hungry and please to see us”
“Thankyou to the call service that went out to homes... it was the second alert that I placed that had a lady able to track him down to a neighbour that had found charlie in his yard 2 days ago.... he was a little bit smelly and hungry but after a bath and some food he is home safe and sound
“The service is great. Our chinki has just returned home- she has a wound on her face which will heal in time but she is very very skinny and bony and been eating only since she came. I think she has escaped from someone because it is not normal for her wander so she was trapped and not fed by someone cruel. She is very normal now and we are very happy this is happening. Today is a very good day. Thankyou are your help. Hopefully my other cat will return just like this”