Digestion, diet, food, weight, exercise, kitten, new adopt, growth, development, age, energy, AAFCO, nutrition, calories, variety, canned, dry, diabetes, FLUTD, FUS, urine
As challenging as it can often be to find the right food for a dog, finding the best food for your furry feline can be even more difficult. Cats are labeled as being finicky for good reason-they are often tough to please.
One fact that does separate our felines from our canines is that cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores. Simply said, they must have animal protein in their diets. Whereas dogs can thrive on a vegetarian diet, cats cannot. Also, cats need more protein than dogs, and their food often contains a bit more fat to keep it tasty. The bottom line is, a dog can live on cat food (usually loving the extra richness), but a cat cannot live on dog food!
So, what should you feed your fabulous feline? Kittens should be fed kitten food, at least until 4 to 6 months of age. Kitten food, like puppy food, contains even higher levels of protein and nutrients for growth and development. After six months of age, a gradual switch to an appropriate adult food is recommended.
What about brand? Can I buy food from the supermarket? The truth is, there are many excellent foods on the market, and there is no one best food for all cats. For most individual cats, there are many good choices available, unless, of course your cat is suffering from a medical condition which requires a special diet prescribed by your veterinarian. The basic criteria are as follows: firstly, your cat should like the food. No matter how "great" a food is, if your cat won't eat it, it's worthless. The diet should leave your cat with lots of energy, a nice shiny coat, and firm stools. The food should also have an aafco certification on the label, which is the association of American feed control officials, preferably claiming the food has gone through feeding trials. Though most of the supermarket brand-name foods may be less expensive than many of the premium brands, they also may not have the same caloric and nutrient efficiency provided by the high quality ingredients in many of the premium brands, so you will probably have to feed more of this food to satisfy your cat's nutritional needs. It is always wise to compare the cost of a serving instead of the cost of a bag or a can. Having said this, if your cat is currently being fed a commercial name-brand food, likes it, and is doing well, then don't switch--unless your veterinarian advises you to based on a medical need.
What about canned versus dry food? Well, that jury is still out. Many have always encouraged dry food to help maintain healthy teeth-even though many cats seem to swallow even their dry food whole. Recently, some experts are advocating feeding cats more canned food, which has fewer carbohydrates than many dry diets. Why the interest in cutting down kitty carbs? Well, we are seeing more and more diabetes in cats. Unlike dogs, who seem to develop type one, or an insulin-dependent diabetes, much like our juvenile onset diabetes, cats are prone to developing type two diabetes, much like our adult onset diabetes, which is more diet related. The carbohydrate overload, possibly from certain dry food diets, may be predisposing certain cats to developing diabetes.
Another diet related problem we often have to deal with is a urinary tract problem called "flutd" which stands for feline lower urinary tract disease. This disease has many potential causes, one of which is-you guessed it---diet! We used to blame the overall ash content of a diet, which is simply the mineral composition, for the problem, then we isolated the mineral to magnesium and were recommending diets low in magnesium, now we better understand the problem to be the type of magnesium rather than the amount, and how it affects the ph, or acid-base status, of the urine. Most cats need a diet which leaves their urine slightly acidic, but what may work well for one cat, may not do the job for another. More confusion! !
Lastly, obesity affects about 25 percent of cats in the country, so selecting a food which keeps your kitty lean is a must. If necessary, work with your veterinarian to find a low-calorie food to help keep your feline a little less plump.
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