The secret to a cat’s happy and long life is good nutrition. We may not notice it, but your cat’s diet is an excellent factor in its overall living. So in this section, we will talk about the nutrients cats need, cat food choices, and other cat nutrition tips.
What is a balanced diet for cats?
A balanced diet gives cats all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat and cannot be vegetarian or vegan. They also need a diet that is suitable for their age, state of health, and lifestyle.
A balanced diet for cats should contain:
- Protein: This is the primary source of energy and essential amino acids for cats. Protein should make up 50-60% of their diet. Animal protein sources are better than plant sources for cats, as they contain taurine and arginine, which are vital for cats’ health.
- Fats and oils: These provide essential fatty acids, help absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and add flavor and texture to food. Fats and oils should make up 30-50% of their diet. Cats need saturated and unsaturated fats, but avoid feeding them too much as it could lead to obesity and other health problems.
- Vitamins and minerals: These are needed for various bodily functions, such as growth, immunity, vision, blood clotting, and nerve function. Cats need a variety of vitamins and minerals in their diet, such as vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, and K, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, and magnesium. Some of these can be found in animal food sources, while others may need to be supplemented or added to the food.
- Carbohydrates: These are not essential for cats but can provide energy and fiber. Carbohydrates should make up less than 10% of their diet. Sources of carbohydrates include grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. However, some cats may be allergic or intolerant to specific carbohydrates, so it is best to avoid feeding them too much or too often.
- Water: This is the most essential part of a cat’s diet, as it helps with digestion, circulation, temperature regulation, and waste elimination. Cats should always have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Cow milk is not a substitute for water and can cause digestive problems in some cats.
The best way to feed your cat a balanced diet is to choose a high-quality commercial cat food that is labeled as complete and life-stage appropriate. You can also give them complementary foods such as wet food or treats in small amounts alongside their primary diet. Always read and follow the feeding instructions on the food packaging and adjust the amount according to your cat’s needs.
Nutrients that cats need
Just like dogs, cats need a specific diet to stay healthy. Although each cat has different nutritional needs, we will discuss the main nutrients they need in their diet. These nutrients can come from various food, including raw, commercial, and even homemade cat food.
Cats are naturally carnivores. Therefore they can get the right amount of protein from eating meat. Adding the right amount of meat to their diet is important to get enough protein and essential amino acids. These essential amino acids will promote healthy tissue and organ development.
Cats can have turkey, beef, and chicken as sources of protein. They can also have tuna, salmon, and other kinds of fish rich in omega-3 and 6. Eggs are also high in protein, but you should feed them to your cat moderately.
Although carbohydrates are not crucial to a cat’s diet, adding a small number of carbs to your cat’s meal is still necessary. Carbohydrates provide energy that your cats can use for their daily activities. Some cat food is made from rice and wheat, which are good sources of carbohydrates.
However, you should not give uncooked soybeans to your cats as they are not nutritious for them.
Aside from carbohydrates, essential fatty acids are cats’ primary energy source. These good fats or essential fatty acids can be found in lean meats and fish. Also, these fats can help cats regulate their body temperature and absorb vitamins E, A, D, and K.
Vitamins and Minerals
Giving your cats the right amount and kinds of vitamins and minerals will strengthen their immunity and save them from some diseases. Some vitamins also help synthesize the raw materials in a cat’s body. Here are some of the essential vitamins that cats need in their diet.
|Vitamin A||good eyesight and strong immunity|
|Vitamin B2||growth and overall health|
|Vitamin B3||nervous system, digestive system, and skin health|
|Vitamin B6||immunity and healthy red blood cells|
Here are the essential minerals that cats should have in their diet:
|Calcium||milk production; joint and bone health|
|Chloride||maintains alkali balance|
|Sodium||nutrient transport and waste disposal|
Raw vs. Commercial Diets
A raw diet in cats can be composed of both meat and veggies. Raw meats can include beef, fish, chicken, and internal organs. Most often than not, raw diet or cat food prepared at home is cheaper and more nutritious than commercial cat food.
Commercially-made cat food claims high nutritional value. However, some commercial cat food is made with byproducts and are made with dangerous ingredients. In the long run, these ingredients can cause detrimental health problems for your cats.
You can choose a homemade raw diet or commercial cat food depending on your budget and your cat’s preference. However, you can mix both as long as you can prepare it properly.
How to Choose the Best Food for Cats
Now that you know what your cat needs, it is time to choose which is the best food for your cat. There are lots of choices in the market and they offer different promises. But you should take note of these key points in selecting the best food for your cat:
- Consider your cat’s age – kittens, adult cats, and senior cats have different nutritional needs. Therefore consider the type and amount of food they need before choosing one. Some commercial cat food is even labeled as to which age group it is suitable for.
- Cat’s overall health – if your cat is suffering from any medical condition, it is best to consult with your vet to identify the right food for them
- Cat’s activity level – to prevent malnutrition and obesity, it is important to consider your cat’s activity level. It will also help you identify whether your cat needs more protein, fats, or vitamins and minerals.
- Main ingredients – some cats may have allergic reactions to certain foods and ingredients. Therefore, checking the ingredients list and ensuring no artificial preservatives, additives, or flavorings are added is important.
Cat Feeding Tips
Aside from the ways above on choosing the best cat food, here are some other tips for your cats to be healthy.
- Choose semi-moist or canned food over kibble.
- Always provide clean water.
- Avoid toxic human food for cats.
- Create a feeding schedule and ensure to feed your cat the right amount of food.
- Always consult your vet when your cat has appetite issues or diet changes.
- Change your cat’s diet or food gradually.
One of the most important aspects of caring for your furry feline friend is their diet. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to provide your cat with the right kind of food and maintain a feeding schedule that ensures they’re getting the appropriate amount.
While various types of food are available, opting for semi-moist or canned food instead of kibble is best. These options provide more moisture and are less likely to cause dehydration, which can lead to health problems. Additionally, always providing clean water at all times is essential, as dehydration can be a severe issue for cats.
It’s also crucial to avoid giving your cat any toxic human food, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, and grapes, to name a few. These foods can cause severe health problems and even be fatal in some cases.
If your cat is experiencing any appetite issues, such as not eating or overeating, or if you’re considering making any changes to their diet, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. They can guide the appropriate amount of food, the best type of food for your cat, and any necessary supplements.
If you decide to switch your cat’s food, it’s essential to do so gradually to avoid any digestive problems. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the old food and gradually increase the amount over several days until your cat is fully transitioned to the new food.