Cats are primarily carnivores, meaning that meat is the primary ingredient found in their diet. That is, based on their natural instinctive diet. After all, their ancestors used to live off of small rodents. They also require a high amount of protein in their diet, alongside other nutrients such as arginine, taurine, niacin, calcium and thiamine. These are nutrients that are found in most cat foods on the market.
The dietary requirements of your cat will change as they grow and develop. For instance, newborn kittens will strictly nurse for the first three weeks of their life, until they are weaned and eating solid food by around six weeks of age. Pregnant cats have higher nutritional requirements as well, so make sure that your cat is eating a food that is designed for kittens while she is pregnant and nursing. As they get to the young adult stage of life, they will then just need a maintenance diet to maintain proper nutrition. When they get into the senior years, they will have unique requirements to help address issues that may arise as they get older.
Choosing the Best Cat Food
When it comes to choosing the best cat food, you have two different options. You can choose a commercially prepared food or you can make homemade cat food. Many pet owners will do a combination of these. If you are choosing a commercially prepared food, it is important to choose a premium formula. There are so many budget cat food brands on the market that don’t contain meat as their primary ingredient. While you may pay more for the higher quality food, it is going to be better for their overall health and wellness.
Special Dietary Requirements
Some cats will have special dietary requirements. Sometimes, they may even need a prescription diet. This is something that is worth talking to your veterinarian about. If your cat has an underlying medical condition such as urinary crystals, diabetes, kidney disease, allergies and sensitivities, weight issues, or oral health concerns, there are foods that are made specifically for these conditions. There are even breed specific formulas and varieties that can help to control hairballs.
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What You Shouldn’t Feed Your Cat
While there are a lot of things that you can feed your cat, it is important to be aware of the things that they should avoid. A big one is dog food. Dog food doesn’t have the nutritional requirements that a cat’s body needs, thus making it unsuitable for them. You should also avoid feeding your cat a vegetarian diet, unless of course your veterinarian recommends it for a special circumstance. You also don’t need to let them drink cow’s milk, because most cats don’t have the enzyme needed to digest this type of milk, making them lactose intolerant for all intents and purposes.
Be aware of the human foods that are unsuitable for your cat as well. After all, many human foods are considered to be toxic to cats. Here is a basic list of foods that you don’t want your cat to eat:
- fruit seeds, such as apple seeds, peach pits, cherry seeds and others
While there are others, this will get you started. Before you start to make homemade cat food, it may be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s particular health needs and requirements.
When to Feed Your Cat
Now that you know what to feed your cat, and what not to feed your cat, it is important to know when to feed them. Many cat owners will just leave food out for their cat to graze on throughout the day. While this isn’t always a bad idea, it isn’t always the best idea either. When you set food down for them at scheduled intervals, it can really be better for them. This will prevent overeating, and it will also give you a better idea as to how much food they are taking in.
If you feed your cat moist food, then it is really unlikely that you will leave it down for them all the time. If you worry they may not be getting enough food, then leave down a small amount of kibble for in between meals. Just remember, pregnant and nursing cats, along with small kittens, require more frequent meals throughout the day.