Pet Care Advice 》 Cat food

All cat foods should have some source of animal protein and fat. Cats are obligate carnivores and require nutrients such as taurine and arachidonic acid to be supplied in their diet. These nutrients are only present in animal sources. They are not found in plant-based sources. The animal source may be in the form of beef, poultry, chicken, turkey, fish or other meats, or it may be in the form of by-products or by-product meals.

It is important for cat owners to remember that grain-free diets are not necessarily low carbohydrate diets. In many cases, the grains have simply been replaced with another carbohydrate source such as potatoes. If you are seeking to feed a low carbohydrate food, you’ll want to make sure this is not the case.

Preservatives are necessary to keep the food fresh. Fillers such as corn, wheat, rice, colorings, binders and flavors are added to both dry and canned cat food by the manufacturers to provide bulk and satisfy consumers. Better-quality brands will have fewer artificial preservatives and cheap fillers. At Doctors Beck & Stone we carry Royal Canin and Hill’s all of our clinics.”

 Dry vs. Wet cat food 

The benefits of dry cat food are:

  • convenient,
  • easy to measure and use,
  • easier to store,
  • Have a longer shelf-life once opened than wet foods.
  • Some may also help to remove plaque from the teeth.

If you choose a dry food, you can expect your cat to chew it more actively and take longer to eat, to drink more water and to return regularly to the food rather than eating it all at once.

Bear in mind that cats at certain life stages may prefer softer foods, for instance elderly cats or weaning kittens. Wet food will work well on these occasions and there are also some dry diets which have been specially designed to be soaked. Additionally, some cats simply prefer wet food’s aroma and texture, and it can still be very convenient with single-serve formats ensuring a fresh, easy-to-serve meal each time. Cats who eat wet food will eat more in one sitting rather than going back and forth, and will drink less as there is higher water content in wet food than in dry food.

The amount of water intake is particularly important for cats prone to constipation or the formation of urinary crystals/stones, or if they have diabetes or kidney disease —feeding a wet food is essential for cats with these conditions.

In fact, if your cat has ever had stones or a urinary tract obstruction, it is wise to always feed them wet food from that time onwards, as they will be prone to a recurrence.  Sometimes adding a very small amount of salt can help as well, (but check with your vet first to see if your cat has a heart condition) as it increases thirst and so urine flow to stop crystals from forming.

Common cat feeding errors  

One of the most common cat feeding errors is overfeeding. Most cats need just 250 to 300 calories per day. Give your cat two daily meals instead of leaving a bowl of food out. Either canned or dry food (or a combination) is fine, as long as the overall diet is nutritionally balanced. Offer treats only occasionally.

Owners often like to think cats prefer tuna and dairy products. Actually, cats cannot digest lactose, making dairy a bad idea as it gives them a smelly profuse diarrhea.  Canned tuna is also not a good idea as it not nutritionally balanced, and there are some concerns about its Mercury content. An occasional morsel is fine as a treat, but leave it at that.

Meat provides nutrients that are vital for cats, including vitamins A and B12, taurine and arachidonic acid. If you decide on a meat-free diet for your little tiger, it's crucial to work with your vet to make sure he's getting the nutrients he needs from food and/or supplements. Even commercial vegetarian and vegan cat foods are often nutritionally deficient.  Taurine deficiency leads to blindness, so it is worth avoiding.