As your trusted emergency pet hospital and self-proclaimed animal lovers, the veterinarians and staff at Brightcare Animal ER believe that all animals deserve top-quality veterinary care and also the best possible care and nutrition at home.
Aside from cuddles, lots of love, and treats, your furry feline friend also needs proper nutrition to live a long, healthy, and happy life. So, it’s vital that you take into consideration many things when choosing the right food for your cat.
According to the Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they rely on nutrients found only in animal products. Cats evolved as hunters that consume prey. Prey contains high amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat, and a minimal amount of carbohydrates. Your cat still requires these general diet proportions today. Cats also require more than a dozen other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Now you can say you know a little bit more about what kind of animal and special nutrients your cat requires. Let’s take a closer look at what you should do for your feline friend regarding food, dietary needs, and problems they can face, such as obesity.
Your Cat’s Dietary Needs
Unlike other species like dogs or humans, your cat actually has some unique nutritional needs. Cats, for example, need more protein; adult cats need 2 or even 3 times more protein than dogs or herbivores like cows or horses. Kittens, on the other hand, need even more protein than most other animals.
As previously mentioned, cats are obligate carnivores. But still, there are a couple of other nutritional differences that make cats’ nutritional needs different from dogs.
Cats have a dietary need for taurine but have limited enzymatic activity for making taurine from amino acids.
If cats don’t receive a sufficiently high level of taurine, they may develop a heart condition (dilated cardiomyopathy), experience reproductive failure, abnormal development as a kitten, or suffer from retinal degeneration.
Arginine is also critical to cats’ diets because they can only use that specific amino acid to make another amino acid, ornithine, which binds the ammonia produced by the body when it breaks down protein.
Fatty acids are nutrients that your pet’s organism can’t synthesize in sufficient quantities and must therefore obtain through their food.
Arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid that cats cannot produce either. This fatty acid is necessary to produce an inflammatory response that signals the body to send healing agents to a damaged location for blood clotting.
Arachidonic acid also supports the proper function of the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems, as well as the maintenance of proper skin growth.
Our feline best friends cannot make the active form of vitamin A or adequate quantities of niacin, which is a type of B vitamin. These vitamins are essential to support eye and skin health and convert carbohydrates, protein, and fats into energy.
As you can see, it is vital to be as informed as possible to make the right choice when it comes to choosing the right food for your cat. Doing so can ensure that you are providing the best possible nutrition to your cat and helping them avoid a food-related pet emergency.
But with so many different brands of cat food, what are your actual choices to choose from?
Types Of Cat Food
With hundreds of brands of cat food products on the market, choosing a food that is nutritional and at the same time loved by your cat can be quite difficult.
The different types are endless, with variations in texture, nutritional value, flavor, and dietary needs. However, choosing the right food for your cat will come down to three basic things:
- Your cat’s age
- Personal preferences
There are three major textures in cat food; dry, moist, and canned or “wet.” Dry food, also commonly referred to as kibble, is hard and crunchy. It is usually the least expensive but may not be loved by your cat if they are a finicky eater.
Moist food is more like dry kibbles, but instead, it is soft and chewy. Wet cat food, packaged in cans or foil packs, is available in chunks with sauce or as a ground consistency.
The tough news is, we know cats are finicky eaters, much more so than dogs. Thankfully dry, wet, and moist foods are all available in seafood, lamb, beef, and chicken flavors. There are also combinations, such as chicken and lamb or lamb and beef.
Because you should also consider your feline friend’s age when choosing proper food, let’s take a look at different age groups. For kittens, try feeding food with higher caloric content. On the other hand, look for food that contains a low mineral content for seniors.
Kidney disease is very common for felines. However, you can find food to protect urinary health and prevent kidney problems. There is also food available for cats that suffer from existing conditions such as:
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
- Immune deficiencies
So, now you know the nutrients your cat needs, plus all the different types of cat food available to choose from. And that’s great, but now as your preferred Mission Viejo pet emergency clinic, we have to make sure you also know how much to feed your cat.
There’s no doubt your cat is less active than dogs, so it’s very important not to overfeed your cat, or they may end up suffering from obesity. Overweight cats can suffer from serious issues such as:
- Heart failure
- Skin issues
- Some types of cancer
Cat Food Portions Are Important
As a general rule of thumb, cats usually do better with smaller food portions multiple times a day. To ensure that your cat stays slim and healthy, it’s always best to provide several measured meals of food throughout the day versus having food available 24/7.
If you are unsure how much food you should feed your cat, schedule an appointment with us, and we will be happy to discuss the right frequency based on your cat’s needs. But, usually, cats should have a minimum of two meals a day, if not more.
Remember, if you ever face a pet emergency with your best friend, our veterinarians and staff in our Mission Viejo animal emergency center are here to help you.