All You Should Know About Proper Cat Nutrition
Cat food comes in a variety of forms that include dry food, semi-moist food, canned food, and natural prey. Cat food manufacturers have extensively researched nutrition for domestic cats in all stages of life. They understand which foods cats enjoy best, as well as the ones with the most nutritional value.
You may notice that your cat has her food preferences. You can feel comfortable catering to her culinary demands as long as you provide your cat with a balanced diet.
If your cat’s a finicky eater, try mixing dry and moist food for optimal nutrition and affordability. Even if your cat tends to favor one form of cat food over the others, you should try to vary her pet diet. This prevents food addictions that can lead to serious health problems.
Contrary to popular belief, cow’s milk is not recommended for cats. Instead, give your cat plenty of fresh, clean water. Water should always be available for your cat, regardless of her diet.
If you have several cats in your household, avoid feeding them from the same dish. In this situation, the dominant cat usually eats more of the food and creates mealtime stress for subordinate felines. Feed your cats from separate bowls and watch them make sure they don’t wipe up one another’s leftovers.
Cat eating dry Food
Dry foods are the most convenient type of commercial cat food. They can help prevent the tartar buildup that leads to gum disease and tooth decay, and they are the most economical option.
Unless you’ve had success with free choice feeding, put out only as much food as your cat will consume in twenty minutes, within the range that the pet-food manufacturer recommends.
Properly stored, dry cat food usually has a shelf life of about twelve months from the date of manufacture. Heat and humidity degrade nutritional value, so do your best to buy fresh food. Once opened, your cat’s dry food should be stored in a sealed container to preserve freshness.
If the bag is greasy on the outside, its fat has soaked through and the food has been left susceptible to contamination from rodents and insects. Choose a new bag.
Quality cat food should have a few crumbs (called “fines”) in the bag. If you find insects, rodent waste, paper, or mold in the bag, switch to a higher-quality brand name that you trust. Don’t forget to check the expiration date.
Semi-Moist Foods and Treats
Semi-moist foods contain about 25 to 40 percent water and are often chosen for their convenience and palatability. They have a similar nutritional value to their dry and wet counterparts.
Most cat food companies also produce semi-moist treats that you can give your cat as a snack between meals. Too many snacks may cause obesity or addiction, so be sure to keep track of calories and subtract the treats from your cat’s daily food allotment.
As with dry foods, you can also perform some home quality control on semi-moist foods. Ensure that the package is tightly sealed and has no tears or grease marks. Never give your cat anything that you feel has been contaminated by insects or rodents. They should be uniform and soft.
Canned Cat Food
Canned or wet foods are often the most appealing to felines since most cats enjoy the texture and aroma of canned foods. Those with a high-fat concentration are usually the favorites.
Although canned foods are about ninety percent water, they cannot meet a feline’s daily water requirements. Always supplement your cat’s food with fresh water.
Canned food consumption must be monitored. Once it’s spooned into your cat’s bowl, it does not stay fresh for long. In hot weather, canned food becomes stale and attracts insects. Be sure to wash the bowl when your cat’s through eating.
To check for quality, make sure that there is neither swelling nor raised bumps on the can. This may indicate that the vacuum in processing has been broken and that the can might contain disease-causing bacteria.
Another way to evaluate your canned food’s quality is to check the content of the food for large pieces of blood vessels, tendons, and ligaments. These are poor-quality meat byproducts that contain little nutritional value.
Canned food that has been opened should be refrigerated, but don’t keep it longer than two or three days, since it spoils easily and loses flavor. Warming it briefly in the microwave will improve the palatability and aroma of most cats. Stir it before feeding and check to ensure that there are no “hot spots” that could burn your cat’s mouth.
The Hunt is on for Dinner
As the domestic cousin of lions, tigers, and panthers (“oh my!”), the hunting instinct runs deep in your cat. In addition to providing food, hunting also helps maintain your cat’s natural abilities.
Even though most domestic cats do not hunt to satisfy hunger, some of them may, at times, consume their prey. If your cat eats its prey frequently, you should recheck her diet to make sure she’s getting proper nutrition.
Interestingly, nutritional analysis of a mouse shows it to be a very balanced meal for the average cat. Owners, however, often find the behavior upsetting. Also, eating prey is a potential source of parasites for your cat, as well as a potential source of poisoning if the prey has consumed poisonous bait before its encounter with your cat.
Many cats bat or play with their prey rather than consume it. The well-fed cat may be more likely to exhibit this behavior because its need for nutrition is less intense. You can choose to limit your cat’s opportunities to hunt if you decide that the behavior is unacceptable.