Pet Newsletter - Cat and Dog Newsletter
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Cat Health and Nutrition Information
A true carnivoret
Even the most domesticated cat is also a hunter and so, a carnivore. Cats must
have some animal tissue in their diet to remain healthy. Make sure you provide
your cat with a food that contains properly balanced amounts of all the
essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients for optimum cat health and cat
nutrition. For example, taurine, pre-formed
vitamin A, and arachidonic acid are essential nutrients that the cat must have
and that are not found in significant quantities in plant foods.
A balanced diet
Like their owners, cats need a well-balanced diet to stay in peak condition.
Your catís food must contain a full complement of protein, fat, vitamins, and
minerals, all in the right proportions.
In the wild, cats naturally consume the whole body of their prey Ė not just
the flesh Ė but also the bones, internal organs, intestinal contents, skin,
and hair of the prey. These provide the cat with vitamins, minerals, and
roughage, otherwise missing from a purely meat diet.
In the world of the domestic cat, there is less opportunity to devour an entire
body. Domestic cats, like all other animals, eat primarily to satisfy their
energy requirements, not their roughage or nutrient needs. The food you feed
your cat must therefore provide all the essential nutrients in the correct
amounts and in the correct balance, based on the energy content of the diet and
requirements of your cat.
Energy in your cat's diet comes from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Your cat
does require a relatively high level of protein; in fact, she is unable to adapt
to a diet that is extremely low in protein. Animal fats are also essential for
cats, not only for the energy they provide, but also because they are a source
of the fatty acids such as arachidonic acid, as well as the fat soluble
Choosing a diet for your cat
Nutritionally speaking, your cat is a very complex animal.
Because of this, most cat owners prefer to use one of the commercially prepared
brands of cat food. They are nutritionally balanced and complete, as well as
convenient for the owner. There are generally two types of prepared cat food
available, distinguished by their water content - wet and dry.
Be sure to provide plenty of drinking water for your cat, particularly if you
feed her dry food, because of the significantly reduced moisture level. And
remember to clean the water bowl and food bowl frequently.
Cats are notoriously fastidious eaters and can be overly fussy about their food
Ė even to the point of starving themselves if they don't like what is being
offered. Obviously, this should and can be discouraged, by introducing a variety
of different flavors and textures to the catís diet.
Cats donít like food served straight from the refrigerator. If you keep canned
food in the refrigerator, let it reach room temperature, or warm it before you
serve it Ė your cat will prefer it that way. If you microwave the food, stir
it before serving to distribute the heat, and always ensure that itís not too
hot (not above 96 F).
Although many cats do seek variety, there are times when they prefer a familiar
diet. If you need to feed your cat a different diet, possibly on the advice of
your veterinarian, introduce it gradually over several days. Repeated exposure
to fresh supplies of the new food should encourage your cat to overcome her
initial reluctance to eat.
How much and how often to feed
How much food your cat needs depends on her size, age, activity, and condition.
Most cats regulate their food intake well and, if the food contains the right
dietary balance, they will usually eat the right amount. Unless your cat is
overweight, donít worry about the amount you give her at any one meal.
However, you need to ensure she stays the right weight by regularly checking her
When allowed continuous access to food, cats tend to eat small, frequent meals
throughout the day. They are easily adaptable, however, to more regular feeding
schedules. Many cats are fed two meals per day.
Overeating in cats
While most cats regulate their eating well; a number of cats will overeat.
Cats who overeat tend to be the ones who are kept indoors all the time and
donít get much exercise. If your cat overeats, offer her less food at each
meal, and stop giving her any between-meals treats.
If your cat is overweight, talk to your veterinarian. Never put your cat on a
severely restricted diet without consulting your veterinarian, as severe calorie
restriction can be harmful and even fatal to some cats.
Mother and kittens
If you think your cat is pregnant, consult your veterinarian for advice. During
pregnancy, your cat will need more food to allow for the growth of her unborn
kittens. Sheíll need a special energy and nutrient-rich food.
Pregnant dogs tend to gain their weight in the final stage of pregnancy, but the
pregnant cat is different. She begins to eat more and her weight steadily
increases within a week of a successful mating. She starts early, laying down
extra energy stores in her body which can be used later in pregnancy and in
lactation, when she may not be able to eat enough to meet her requirements.
During the last two weeks of her nine-week pregnancy, the pregnant cat may eat
as much as twice her normal ration of food.
Throughout the whole period of her pregnancy and lactation, make sure to feed
your cat as much as she wants. During lactation, in particular, make food also
available through the night. Be sure the diet is designed for pregnant and/or
By the fifth and sixth week of lactation, the combined food intake of mother and
kittens may be three times that of the mother cat before mating. Continue this
extra feeding until the kittens are weaned. After theyíre weaned, gradually
cut back on the additional food until your cat is eating her normal amount. Of
course, the general condition and health of the mother cat is your best guide:
watch for any signs of weight loss or gain, and adjust her meals accordingly.
The growing kittens
At about four weeks, kittens are usually active and well-developed, and can
begin taking solid food. By this point, theyíre getting less nourishment from
their motherís milk.
Be sure to feed your kittens foods that are soft, moist, and easy to eat. Look
for commercial foods that are designed especially for kittens, and introduce
them gradually. At this stage, itís best to use well-mashed canned food, and
if dry food is used, it should be well soaked. Remember to find a dish shallow
enough for the kittens to eat from.
At six to eight weeks, kittens should be eating solid food happily and can be
fully weaned. After weaning, at seven to eight weeks, kittens need four or five
meals a day.
Caring for your cat
You can expect your cat to live ten to fifteen years, or even longer. Help
increase her longevity by giving her the care and attention she needs throughout
Although cats are clean and independent animals, you, finally, are responsible
for your petís health and physical well-being. Obviously, she needs a balanced
diet to keep her fit and healthy, but she also requires shelter and
companionship, and someone to keep her free from disease.
A healthy, well-cared-for cat presents no health risk to you and your family,
but it is a good idea to take common sense precautions.
- Give your cat her own feeding bowls and utensils. Keep them clean and wash
them separately from the family's dishes.
- Provide your cat with her own sleeping quarters and wash her bedding
- Train your cat to use a litter box, or allow her free outdoor access.
- Remove soiled litter from the box at least once a day. Replace the litter
and clean the box at least once a week. Remember to wear gloves and to wash
your hands thoroughly afterward.
- Don't allow your cat to walk over surfaces used during the preparation or
consumption of food.
- Don't let your cat lick you or your children, especially around the face.
- Cover children's sand boxes when not in use. (Outside cats will use them
as litter boxes.)
- Dispose of any cat feces in the garden by burying them, especially if
there are children around.
- Groom your cat regularly and check for fleas and other parasites.
- Worm your cat according to the instructions of your veterinarian.
- Don't feed your cat uncooked meat or fish.
- If you note any signs of illness in your cat, have her treated promptly.
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