Hello to all you wonderful readers. Again, greetings from Lucinda, your literate cat. Today, CCL (Cantankerous Cat Lady) and I will start something new. With this post, we will offer feeding guidelines for cats, some general information about cat nutritional needs.
Then, over the next few weeks, we will present specific topics dealing with some aspect of cat nutrition. We hope this information will prove useful for you.
So, let’s get started.
What Two Factors Influence All Cats’ Diets?
From a biological evolutionary perspective, two factors prove key to sound cat nutrition
1): A cat, an obligate carnivore, MUST eat meat. Read the post from our excellent Gustavus veterinarian, Dr. Susan Schaff, “Feeding Your Obligate Carnivore Cat.” Animal protein is key to your cat’s continued health.
Lucinda: When you feed any cat, some things will never change. We cats must have protein to supply all our dietary needs.
We do not like sweets. We might eat a bite of vegetables now and then, but not often. Perhaps we try them just because you eat them. We like to nibble on grass because it aids our digestion.
We do not digest carbohydrates well, and can’t understand what you two-leggeds find so delicious in many of the foods you eat. We’d rather go hungry, thanks.
In fact, it’s hard for me to understand why you like such things as desserts covered with gooey chocolate, or salads made of fruit, or some kind of wheat product such as pasta, baked and served with gusto. Give me plain meat. If you must add something, make it a thick, meaty gravy.
On the other hand, speaking of dietary preferences, we have never seen you eat a delicious raw mouse!
2): A cat needs water. Because his ancestors had a desert origin, the cat developed the ability to go without water for long periods of time.
Lucinda: Just because we can conserve water well doesn’t mean we don’t need it. Fortunately, since our ancestors started out in the desert, we have evolved to need less water, say, than a dog of a similar size.
We can go for fairly long periods of time without a drink, but it doesn’t mean we don’t need fresh water regularly.
Leaving fresh water for your cat at all times becomes an important consideration. Even though your kitty will not drink much, he still needs to have fresh water available.
A cat water fountain might provide just the thing, as it supplies your kitty with fresh, running water at all times. It’s what we have at my house, and Mocha and I both like it.
Other Considerations Linked To Dietary Needs
CCL: Now, let’s review. We now know that a cat is an obligate carnivore, and must have animal protein in his diet. We also know that fresh water remains a necessity. A cat must have both of those to remain healthy.
What other things must you learn in order to provide a healthy diet? There are lots of things. For example, how much should you feed your cat at each meal? What types of cat food can you provide? Do you want to try preparing home-made cat food?
Do you read the labels on your cat food so you know exactly what they contain? Here’s a helpful clue: Look for the approval from AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) which guarantees you thqat the food meets the nutritional levels established for adult cats.
Lucinda: It’s up to you two-leggeds to investigate the food you serve us to make sure you offer one that meets all our nutritional needs. After all, we will not go to the grocery store and pick out our own food. We must depend on you to do it for us.
Sometimes, though, I think these cat food companies could use some hunting lessons. Why do they not offer canned mouse? If they learned to hunt properly…but, then, I guess it’s simply because they would have to catch a very large number of mice to make enough canned mouse to feed many hungry cats.
And, how about treats? We love our special treats, and we want them to continue. The Internet Food Gurus recommend eating these in limited amounts, as they can cause us to gain too much weight. Also, they may not contain much that actually helps our bodies and furnishes good nutrition.
They just taste good, so we must learn to eat them in moderation. Otherwise, we become like two-legged children who want to eat sweets all day. Not good!
Upon occasion my CCL gives me a small extra portion of kibble for a treat. At night, before bed, she often puts down a small serving of my regular canned food, so if I need a midnight snack, it’s available.
Some Kitties Have Special Needs
Lucinda: Not all cats are the same. Some of us have special dietary needs. If so, these need to be taken into consideration when planning our meals. For example, perhaps we have an allergy, or some kind of food sensitivity, or a specific health condition.
What if we tend to gain weight easily? Perhaps we have contracted a urinary tract infection. Our cat parents must find the best food to address these issues. They might have to consult the vet, but they will find something that will help ease our dietary problem.
Yes, much as we dislike trips to the vet, I have learned that he/she knows lots of things that can help our health.
CCL: To review, we’ve covered two cat dietary essentials here: Cats need protein and fresh drinking water. I found so many other sub-topics dealing with cat dietary needs that I had trouble deciding which to cover in the coming weeks. Here are the six I’ve chosen:
- Wet vs. dry foods: pros and cons
- The importance of taurine in a cat’s diet
- What makes water so essential?
- Does fiber have a special role in cat nutrition?
- Age-specific nutrition
- Dietary needs of an indoor cat
Perhaps you have specific questions or concerns about your cat’s diet and nutritional needs. If so, please ask your questions in the comments below this post. If possible, we will include the information for you in a future post.
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