Feline Nutrition in a Nutshell

Having a cat in your home is a bit like hosting a miniature lion. The domestic feline has a lot in common with its wild ancestors, but its lifestyle tends to be a little more on the tame side. 

When it comes to feeding our kitty companions, there is a lot to consider. Cats have some special nutritional needs that we need to know about to be successful caretakers. Luckily for you, The Pet’s Place Animal Hospital knows all about feline nutrition and is happy to help you understand.

Kitty Considerations

Cats are not the same as dogs and it really starts to show when you compare their diets. As obligate carnivores, cats have certain nutritional needs that can only be met by eating meat. Some basic differences include:

  • They need vitamin A in their diets and are unable to convert beta carotene like their dog friends.
  • The feline species requires very high levels of thiamine in their diet.
  • Cats need several amino acids such as taurine that are found only in meat in their diet. 
  • Cats need far more protein than do dogs.
  • Prolonged decreases in calorie intake can result in serious health consequences for cats. 

Balancing a cat’s diet can be tricky. It can be tempting to hop on the bandwagon of different diet trends, but they aren’t always a good choice.

A commercially prepared diet is best to ensure that your cat is receiving all the nutrients they need in the right amounts and ratios. If you really want to make your own diet, working with a board certified veterinary nutritionist is the way to go. 

A Word About Obesity and Feline Nutrition

If your little lion is on the overweight side, you’re not alone. Most cats in the United States (about 60%) are at least somewhat overweight

Being overweight increases your pet’s risk of many health conditions including osteoarthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, urinary problems, and even cancer. Talking with your veterinarian about the appropriate number of calories is a great place to start when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.  

Keeping your kitty svelte isn’t always easy, but it is important. Be sure to:

  • Know your cat’s allowed daily calorie intake (please ask us for help determining this, but most cats need between 180 and 250 calories per day)
  • Remember that treats have calories as well and count them in your daily totals
  • Choose low calorie treats like a small about of tuna in water
  • Measure your cat’s food so that you know how many calories you are feeding
  • Consider substituting in some canned food, which tends to be less calorie dense due to its water content, for the kibble
  • Encourage activity at meal time with indoor hunting feeders or interactive food bowls
  • Avoid the urge to allow your cat free access to food, instead refresh the bowl frequently or encourage the use of a more interactive feeder
  • Offer playtime instead of food when your cat begs

If you decide that a diet is in order for your cat, it is important to remember that slow and steady weight loss is key for kitties. A crash diet can result in a serious condition called hepatic lipidosis.

As you probably already know, cats aren’t always fans of change. A sudden alteration in diet or routine is not likely to be met with enthusiasm. Rather, make changes gradually, offering a small amount of a new food or a new routine each day.

Feline nutrition may not always be intuitive, but it is an important part of keeping your cat healthy and happy. You are what you eat, and that goes for cats as well as us. 

Now What are You Eating?: The 411 on Pet Nutrition Trends

Even if nutrition isn’t your thing, it’s hard to avoid the many dietary trends being touted in the news, on social media, and by friends and family members galore. An interest in what we feed our pets is also on the rise, and pet nutrition trends are falling in line with the never ending human quest for the “perfect” diet.

When it comes to food, studies have shown that pet nutrition trends closely mirror our own values. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods, and a focus on simple ingredients all play a role in many western diets, and pet owners are starting to expect the same when it comes to pet food. Continue…

Pancreatitis in Pets: A Thanksgiving Threat

pancreatitis in petsAs Thanksgiving approaches, many pet owners will be adding their pets to the list of things they are grateful for. Pets provide us with so much joy, love, and companionship, that it’s understandable to want to include them in our important family events, including sharing the big Thanksgiving meal.

When we think about sharing table scraps with our pets, foods that are potential pet toxins may come to mind. However, even small amounts of non-toxic foods can trigger a dangerous condition called pancreatitis in pets.

Pancreatitis in Pets

The pancreas is a large organ located just behind the stomach and the entrance to the small intestine. A healthy pancreas has a variety of important functions, including the secretion of insulin and digestive enzymes. Pancreatitis in pets occurs when the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed, triggering a host of digestive problems, as well as negatively impacting the surrounding organs. Continue…