ABC's of Cat Food
The physique of a feline in fit condition is something beautiful to behold, so it’s little wonder that cats have been featured over and over again in art throughout history. To keep cats in fine form requires a diet tailored for their specific needs so read on to learn about the ABC’s of cat food.
The Importance of ProteinA cat is what is known as an obligate, or true, carnivore. This means that, unlike the omnivorous dog that can exist on a diet of about 50 percent carbohydrates, cats need a high quantity of protein in their daily diet to function in a healthy manner. Just think about how cats live in the wild, feasting on mice, small rodents and birds. It’s hard to imagine a cat eating a cob of corn or digging up a potato for dinner! The cat diet is actually about 45 percent protein, 45 percent fat, leaving only 10 percent for carbohydrates and other nutritional elements. In order to have a happy, fit, energetic cat that is free of illness and disease, a protein rich diet is essential. Meat should always be the first ingredient on the label of pet food because of this need.
Wet, Dry or Semi-Moist?Because cats can easily be free fed, dry food is the choice of convenience for many owners who like to have a dish of food available for their cats all day long. This allows the owner to come home at any time of day without having to worry about a hungry cat at home waiting for them. However, because of a cat’s need for large amounts of protein, dry foods are not always the healthiest choice for a cat due to the necessity of larger amounts of carbohydrate based ingredients to make the pellets of food stick together. Canned food is generally considered better for its lower carbohydrate count and higher water and protein content. Unfortunately, wet food is also more expensive, less convenient and messier. During the summer, wet food should not be left out all day as it attracts flies and goes bad quickly. Many owners are torn between wet and dry food because of these factors and feed their cats a mixed diet of both. However, any cat that is having urinary tract issues or kidney problems should be solely on a diet of wet food as the higher water content helps with these conditions. Semi-moist food is good for treats but has a high sugar and salt content with can increase obesity and diabetes in cats so should not be given this food regularly.
How Often and How Much to FeedIn the wild, cats will eat many small meals throughout the day rather than having one or two large meals like dogs do. This is why many owners prefer to free fed and leave meal times up to their cat’s discretion. If you choose to take matters into your own hands, 3 or so small meals a day with some snacks are optimal for the high metabolism of your cat. Kittens need to be fed even more frequently until they are grown. A general guideline for cats is about 3 oz of dry food a day or 6-8 oz of wet food, but read the label of the cat food for requirements and adjust this quantity if your cat is becoming overly obese or thin.
Too Much TunaWhether it’s the strong smell or the distinct taste, there is something in canned tuna that can make a lot of cats and kittens a little crazy! Cats can become complete tuna junkies, yowling and begging for more, more, more. While it’s perfectly acceptable and healthy to feed your kitty tuna every now and again, the high mercury levels in canned tuna make it a bad idea as part of a daily diet. But tuna as a treat will have your cat feeling purrfectly content.
And don’t forget; always provide your kitten or cat with plenty of water, especially if you are using dry food.