Clarendon Street nurses share advice on the optimum diet for your cat
February 14, 2023
Cats may sleep 20 hours of the day, especially during the short cold days of winter, however they still need a good quality diet that provides all the right nutrients in sufficient quantities. Knowing what to feed your cat can be tricky as there are many options, so our nurses thought a few tips on feline feeding might be helpful. Read on to find out more…
What is cat nutrition?
Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
When we consider nutrition we think about lots of different aspects including energy intake and expenditure, types of food, fluid intake, provision of vitamins and minerals, and the age of the animal. These factors must all be considered in the formulation of a balanced diet.
Food and energy balance
One of the most common questions client ask is ‘How much should I feed my cat?’ The answer will vary depending on your cat’s bodyweight, age, and activity level. Manufacturer food labels are a good guideline; however, our vets and nurses can calculate the ideal amount of food for your cat’s individual needs when you bring them in for a check-up – book now.
In terms of which is the best food for your cat, look for ‘complete’ high quality foods (a mixture of wet and dry) to prevent dehydration but also to look after your cat’s teeth. Most of the time it is better to buy commercially produced cat food, as it is difficult to create a balanced diet from scratch at home – this applies to cooked and raw feed. A ‘complete’ food will have been specially formulated to contain all the vital ingredients for optimum health in the right amounts.
Some owners ask about raw or vegetarian diets for cats – in both cases a cat would be at a higher risk of disease due to certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If you are set on feeding a raw diet, make sure you give supplements. Whilst dogs are omnivores, and can manage with a vegetarian diet provided the balance of nutrients is correct, Cats are carnivores and are not able to exist on a vegetarian diet. They need an amino acid called taurine, which they cannot produce themselves. Taurine is found in meat and fish and is crucial for the healthy functioning of the nervous system and many of the bodies essential organs.
Feeding healthy treats in moderation is fine. Clarendon Street Vets’ nurses recommend the following as healthy treats for cats:
- Cooked chicken (plain)
- Seedless slices of cucumber
- Apples (not the pips)
- Actual treats made for cats!
However, you must remember to include treats in their daily calorie intake, and, contrary to old habits, cats SHOULD NOT be given cow’s milk as a treat, as it contains lactose, which cats find hard to digest.
Water and feeding
Water intake is quite a bit easier than food intake. A cat should drink roughly 60ml/kg per day of water, thought this will very a bit depending on their activity levels and the outside temperature. If your cats goes outside you may not see them drinking very often, as many prefer ponds and puddles! If you notice a change in drinking habits, such as a sudden increase in how much your cat is drinking, its always worth giving us a call in case this is a sign of an underlying health condition.
In terms of feeding, cats are solitary animals and like a bit of space when they are eating. If you have several animals, we recommend that they all have their own feeding space. This can reduce stress and potential any food related conflict.
Hopefully the above advice is helpful. If you need any more help, book a cat check-up and our team will check your cat’s weight and help you put together a tailored diet to keep your cat happy and healthy.