Cats are like children: they rely on us to meet their basic needs, which includes their nutritional dietary needs. Because we love our cats like children, it might be tempting to feed them the same foods that we love so much; however, it is important that we keep in mind that cats do not have digestive systems as humans, nor do they require the same nutrients, minerals, and vitamins to survive. Those of us who have ever been on a diet know that it requires an understanding of what our body needs; the same is true of cats. Many cat foods, dry or wet, claim to contain the nutritional equivalent of what constitutes a “healthy diet for pet cats;” unfortunately, a lot of these options are advertised as such without the proper scientific backing and wholesome ingredients. Here are some things to consider when searching for the right, healthy diet for your pet cat:
Much like a developing human, baby cats (kittens) have different dietary requirements and needs than their adult counterparts. Your cat’s age can help you narrow down the selection of food you should be looking for. Depending on the age, kittens do not have the ability to chew fairly easily and therefore can be given softer food in their earlier developmental stages. The same may be true for older, adult cats. Some brands of cat food have specific ingredients that are designed to help optimize your cat’s health at various stages of development. It is important to ask your veterinarian about what types of foods might be appropriate for your cat’s specific age.
Some cat owners allow cat food to remain available to their pet at all hours of the day. Much like humans, cats can develop a habit of eating when they’re bored. If food is made readily available for them at all times, it can be difficult to get a handle on exactly how much food your cat eats on a daily basis. Overeating can lead to feline obesity, which comes with a whole slew of other health issues including cardio-respiratory failure. Whatever brand of food you choose, be sure to follow the instructions based on your cat’s weight—older cats can typically eat more than younger cats, but portion control is paramount to maintaining a healthy weight.
Given everything we’ve said so far, you may be tempted to spoil your furry friend with some treats—or maybe it’s your last-ditch effort to get the cat inside after it escapes! A few treats every once in a while won’t do irreparable damage to your cat’s health; however, you should remain mindful of the ingredients in your cat treats—many brands load their treats with fillers and preservatives that can have cumulative negative effects on your cat’s digestive system and cause other health issues down the line. When it comes to treats, moderation and quality are key.
It’s easy for any pet food company to claim that they have the answers to preserving your cat’s health, or extending your pet’s life with certainty. Unfortunately, many of these “claims” are loaded with a long list of dis-claimers. Getting the opinion of a veterinarian with expertise and knowledge that you can trust is one of the best ways to preserve and ensure your cat’s health; they can recommend foods that are nutritious and address individual health concerns that individually affect your cat. Don’t settle for big brand names; instead, seek a professional opinion from someone who knows the details of your cat’s health.
At Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency, located in Simi Valley, CA, one of our focuses is on addressing animal health internally—we believe that preventive care begins with the diet we prescribe for our pets. We believe that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to veterinary medicine, and this applies to the food we choose for our furry friends. We provide education for pet owners on the best veterinary-recommended food options and other issues or concerns our clients may encounter in addition to emergency services and a year-round shot clinic. If you would like more information about the healthiest diet for your pet cat, contact us to schedule an appointment; informed decisions by professionals and owners alike are what help our pets to live long, healthy, happy lives.