The healthiest food you can feed your cat is one that is complete and balanced. This means that the food contains all the essential nutrients, in the proper amounts, without excess or deficiencies.
What does a balanced diet contain?
There are six major nutrients that make up a healthy cat’s diet: carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. The nutrient requirements are determined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC). Cats have specific nutrient requirements and if any of these are out of balance it can lead to health problems. For example, all cats require taurine (a type of protein) in their diet and if they become taurine deficient, they can develop severe health programs such as heart disease. Did you know that dog food doesn’t contain enough taurine for cats? Healthy adult cats also require more protein and fat than dogs and less carbohydrates. Some animals are able to synthesize certain essential nutrients from plants, but cats are special in that they are obligate carnivores: they depend on nutrients found in animal flesh for survival. Because of this, cats are designed to process protein more effectively than carbohydrates.
Mister Jay is our feline contestant from Care First Animal Hospital at Falls Pointe. His starting weight is 26 pounds and ideal weight is 11! He was started on the Hill’s Science Diet Metabolic Diet which will help him to lose weight and also helps manage hunger in between meals.
What about cats with a long-term disease?
Our feline friends with long-term diseases may require a different proportion of major nutrients compared to a healthy cat’s requirements. For example, a cat with kidney disease requires a diet that is relatively lower in protein, an obese cat requires a diet lower in fat, and a diabetic cat requires a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates.
Are there any treats I can give my cat?
There are many options for treats for kitties! Unfortunately many of the store treats are high in salt and fat, which is not ideal. Small pieces of cooked plain chicken or tuna are tasty and healthier than the store options. Ice cubes, either in your cat’s water bowl or on a plate can provide entertainment as well as a neat treat.
Remember that treats provide additional calories, so be conservative in the amount that you give, especially if your cat is overweight. Schedule an appointment with your Care First Animal Hospital veterinarian for further guidance regarding your cat’s diet!