Cat Nutrition - What You Need to Know About Cat Nutrition to Keep Your Feline Fit and Healthy

Dr. Linda Flieg Orchard Road Animal Hospital

How does nutrition impact the health and wellbeing of my cat?

It's very important to know about cat nutrition as cats are carnivores. Carnivores are obligate meat eaters. And for us vegetarians out there who eat plant-based proteins, it is important to remember that cats don't. So most of their protein requirements should come from meat proteins. And so this is really super important. We need to be looking at our labels, looking for meat protein-based diets. Very high levels of meat and protein are important in our cats' diets. Fresh water should always be readily available 24 hours a day.

What are some signs and symptoms of poor cat nutrition?

So with cats, their hair coat is a really good indication of how well they're doing. Is it shiny? Does it look good? Are they grooming themselves? Is it nice laying down, and do they just look shiny and overall healthy? Are their eyes bright and alert? Is the cat losing weight or is it gaining excessive weight? Sometimes with poor diets, cats will have such a high carbohydrate load that they'll actually gain weight and find it very hard to lose it.

What are some common food allergies in cats and how can I tell if my cat is suffering from them?

One of the biggest food allergens out there is fish-based protein. You'd be surprised at how many cat foods actually have fish-based protein in them. Fish-based protein, or fish meal, is very inexpensive. It's what's left over from the fish after humans take what they want from the product. So fish is very allergenic. I'd recommend you not have that in any part of your cat's diet, whether or not that's the canned food, the dry food, and don't forget those Temptations. We want to make sure the Temptations are free of fish food as well. So real important.

Another thing that should be much lower on your list, if not at all, is dairy. Beef dairy is also very allergic to the cats. And so we want to make sure that that's not in our food either. So those old wives' tales of feeding your cat a little bit of milk may also cause it to give the lil' devil a case of vomiting and/or diarrhea.

When it comes to cat food, what and how much should I be feeding them?

Cats should get a combination of both wet and dry food. I believe that you should also give that wet, canned food twice a day, as well as the dry kibble. So it also depends on what kind of food you're feeding. The digestibility, for some cats, the cat food is not very energy dense. And as a result of it, you may be feeding more.

And remember, if you have to feed cats more for their energy requirements, that means you're also going to be scooping out more out of the litter box. So nice digestible diets, and unfortunately, sometimes protein labels can be very confusing. So shoe leather is also made of protein, but it's not very digestible. And food labels are very hard to read.

If you still have any other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (630) 844-0100. Alternatively, you can email us or reach out on Facebook if you'd like. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as quickly as we can.