A Healthy Cat is a Well-Fed Cat

One of the first things your cat will learn is that you are the food guru. For that alone, your cat will give you a little more respect than everyone else. However, you also need to earn that respect by learning what foods are good for your cat and the proper nutrition required.

Cat Nutrition
Cats are not vegetarians. They should never be vegetarians. If you are a vegetarian and you do not want any meat products in your home, do not get a cat. Cats are carnivores and meat is a requirement in their diets. Without meat, you will be bringing on a slew of health problems. Remember, a cat’s digestive system is designed for a high protein diet. It will not know what to do with a purely vegetarian diet.

Meat and fish need to be the staples in your pet's diet, but you can feed them some vegetables and fruits. Cats need variety in their diet. If you grew up with dogs, you were probably told to never change their diet. Yet, cats in the wild love variety, and your little domestic cat will, too.

It is a good idea to follow the rule of 25 percent high protein mixed with some fats and vegetation. Meat, fish, eggs, and cheese are great sources of protein for your cat. However, you should mix up the meats so that your cat does not end up with a vitamin deficiency.

Then about 15 to 40 percent of your cat’s diet should consist of fats. This helps your cat’s digestive system burn off the fat rather than the highly nutritional, and expensive, protein products. The fats also keep the kidneys healthy by preventing them from filling up with waste product. As your cat ages, it is helpful to increase the fat in the diet to keep the kidneys healthy.

Carbohydrates are also good filler for your cat and they provide energy. They are not a necessary item for a cat, but they do provide good bulk, which keeps the bowels healthy. A cat’s diet can have up to 50 percent carbohydrates.

Vitamins and minerals are also essential to your cat’s diet. With proper variety, cats will usually not suffer from any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you need to, you can give your cat a dietary supplement. Just remember, though, that your cat does not need Vitamin C, B12, and K. They do not need vitamin B12, and their bodies synthesize vitamins C and K.

Types of Cat Food Available
Some people go to the pet store and buy a mixture of dry and moist food for their cat. However, to maintain a good nutritional balance for your cat, you should provide fresh meals for your cat at least two times per week. Fresh meals not only provide a nutritional benefit, but it also provides some variety. However, the type of cat food you buy at the store should be nutritionally balanced, and you should check the label for amounts of protein and other additives to find one that satisfies both you and your cat.

Even though cats in the wild eat raw meat, your cat should not. It can contain a lot of bacteria that can make your cat sick. Also, make sure any food that you provide for your cat is in small enough pieces, because cats cannot chew. Also, avoid giving your cat fish or poultry bones, because they have a tendency to get caught in the throat. Also, you should avoid giving your cat raw egg whites, as they contain a chemical called avidin that prevents your cat from absorbing biotin (an essential nutrient).

Although there is the stereotype about cats drinking milk, you should primarily give your cat water. Because protein will produce a lot of concentrated urea, your cat will need plenty of water to help in eliminating the waste from the body. Keep fresh water available for your cat at all times, but you probably will not need to regulate their water intake. Cats do a good job of drinking water when they need it.

Milk is not necessarily bad for your cat, but many cats cannot tolerate cow’s milk. They often get diarrhea after drinking it. It does provide a good source of calcium and phosphorous for your cat, so if you want to give your cat milk, you can look to milk alternatives at your pet store or vitamin supplements.

If you have a dog in your house, you need to keep the food separate. Dog food is not high enough in protein for your cat, and cat food’s protein levels can actually be harmful to dogs.

One item you may notice that your cat munches on from time to time is grass. Cats usually eat grass to help promote bowel movements and the regurgitation of hairballs. If you have a cat that loves to munch on your grass outside, be sure you are using safe fertilizers. However, your indoor cat will probably appreciate a small pot of grass to chew on from time to time.

How Much Do I Feed My Cat?
Some people find that they can leave dried food out all day long without their cat overeating. However, if you find that your cat is one that overeats, or if you have another pet that likes to eat your cat’s food, you should get your cat on a feeding schedule. So what are the proper proportions for your cat? Here is a little guide for you to follow:

• Weaned to 3 months: 4 to 6 meals per day, 2.5 to 6.5 ounces
•4 to 5 months: 4 to 5 meals per day, 9.5 ounces
• 6 to 7 months: 3 to 4 meals per day, 13 ounces
• 7 to 8 months: 3 meals per day, 14 ounces

Adult Cats:
• 9 months and over: 2 to 3 meals per day, 14 ounces
•Pregnant cats: 3 to 5 meals per day, 14.5 to 16 ounces
• Senior cats: 3 to 6 meals per day, 10.5 to 13 ounces