What is the Most Balanced Diet for My Cat?

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As the parent of a beloved fur baby, you want to make sure that you give them the best of everything. When it comes to nutrition, many of us are clueless. We trust that if we buy the right brand and feed our feline when he or she comes crying, that’s all it takes. It’s only when a health problem like obesity or diabetes enters the picture that we give our cat’s diet any consideration. Here are some nutritional guidelines for a normal, healthy adult cat.

Dry Food or Canned?

Some people prefer to give their pets wet, canned food because it seems more like ‘real’ food. But, pets aren’t people, so the nutritional content is more important than whether their food looks like steak or not. Nutritionally, high-quality dry or canned foods are about equal. The main difference is that dry food contains more carbohydrates, mostly in the form of fillers. Canned food is generally higher in protein and fat. Dry food has a much lower moisture content, but it helps keep teeth clean and healthy. Wet food may be easier on cats who aren’t drinking enough water or who have urinary tract problems. Dry food tends to be more economical, especially if you buy in bulk.

Your cat’s age and stage of life can alter their nutritional requirements, just as ours do. Younger felines have more energy and may still be growing up until the age of two. Expectant or nursing mothers need extra calories and calcium in their diets. Older or more sedentary cats can eat less. You should consult with your vet about your cat’s health requirements. You should also look at the nutrition labels to determine the amount of amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamin percentages to make sure your cat is getting enough of the essentials.

How Much Should You Feed Your Cat?

Your cat should eat enough to help them maintain a healthy weight and support their activity level. While each animal’s needs are individual, you should be able to just detect their ribs under their skin without them being too prominent. Leaving heaping bowls of food around will only encourage overeating. A good rule of thumb is to measure out the recommended amount for your cat’s age and weight, and divide that into two equal portions. Feed one portion in the morning and the other about eight hours later.

A lot of people like to give their cats treats. There’s no harm in this as long as they are appropriate for felines and you don’t overdo it. Treats should be restricted to 10 percent of their daily caloric intake or less. Any more than that can keep them from getting nutrition during regular feedings and lead to obesity. Using treats in conjunction with playing will be fun for you and your feline, and it will help them burn off any excess calories.

What About Hydration?

Many cats have a low thirst drive, so they require less water than dogs. You should always have fresh water available for them to take a drink whenever they need it. If you feel your cat isn’t receiving enough hydration, keep in mind that canned food contains 78 percent more moisture than dry.

One thing you should never do is give your cat cow’s milk or cream. You may think you’re giving him a treat, but you could end up giving him a stomach ache instead. Whatever the stereotyped image is, these are bad for your cat’s digestive system.

If you want to take some of the guesswork out of feline nutrition, there are plenty of sources that are veterinary approved. You can visit Vet Products Direct for Royal Canin veterinary cat food or talk to your own vet directly about the specific nutritional needs of your cat.