If you’re a cat owner, one of the most important things you can do to ensure to choose a healthy diet for your cat and also consider their happiness. If you don’t, the consequences can be dramatic – no one wants to be asking themselves ‘why does my cat have diarrhea and vomiting?’ regularly. On top of the immediate results, a poor diet can contribute to long term problems for cats, including diabetes, joint pain, kidney failure and heart disease. Excessive weight gain and weight loss can be just as unhealthy for cats as for humans, and should be avoided too!
Today we’re taking a look at some of the decisions you need to make to ensure you’re buying a healthy diet for your cat.
The Dry Food Debate
One of the big questions in cat nutrition rests on dry food. It’s convenient, easy to buy and store in bulk, and has a less pungent odour than wet food. While it has all these advantages, some aren’t convinced it can make up your cat’s entire diet, and they’ll need wet or fresh food too.
Fortunately, it is possible to feed your cat solely on dry food (‘kibble’), as long as you take some precautions. Make sure the food you’re buying is labelled as ‘complete’ or ‘balanced’. This means it contains all the nutrients your cat needs to be healthy.
You also need to make sure you provide more water for your cat if their food is dry. Cats normally fill a significant proportion of their hydration needs from their food, so if you don’t compensate with more water, your cat could get dehydrated. This is especially important if your cat is prone to urinary tract infections.
An Ageing Cat
Cats need different things from their food as they age – different balances of nutrients, supplements of vitamins and minerals, even different consistencies. Make sure you know what stage of life your cat is in, and ensure you’re getting food that’s clearly labelled as providing for their needs. If you’re not sure how old your cat is, and how best to tailor their diet to their age, talk with your vet, and they’ll give you the advice you need.
Many common cat health conditions – especially those that emerge with age – need to be treated at least partially with a specialised diet. If your cat is overweight or underweight, you’ll need to adjust at least how you feed them, if not what you feed. If they have a condition like diabetes, you’ll need an even more specialised diet to help support their health.
The most important thing is not to do this alone. Work with your vet to make sure you understand what your cats need, and how they can get it in the most healthy possible way – deciding for yourself that your cat is overweight and coming up with your own diet for them could do more harm to them than good!