By Desiree Carlos
We tend to eat too much sugar and salt which leads to health problems. Or, we eat too little, then we eat too much, making our gut “confused,” and thus weakening it in the long run. With us humans making mistakes about how we feed ourselves, it is not surprising that we also make mistakes when feeding our pets, particularly our cats.
“So what errors are we making and why? Our cats can’t tell us, not with words. Sometimes we don’t know where we’ve gone wrong until our cat is sick.
Not to worry. WebMD went to the experts in cat healt—veterinarians and animal nutritionists—and asked them to outline the most common cat feeding mistakes so that you can avoid them and help your feline friend stay fit, feisty, and well-nourished, “ said Wendy C. Fries in her article “Mistakes People Make Feeding Cats” in pets.webmd. The article was reviewed by veterinarian Amy Flowers.
Here are cat feeding mistakes you can remove from your routine or avoid:
1. Too Much Food
Overfeeding is the most common mistake, said Dr. Joe Bartges, professor of medicine and nutrition, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, U.S.A.
“Obesity is the most common nutritional disease seen in cats,” he added. While a fat cat may look cute, obesity is associated with diabetes, arthritis , and urinary tract disease. In short, being fat is not good for your cat.
It is not that owners give more food than what they need intentionally, but cats are sedentary beings, said Linda P. Case, MS, author of The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health. “They’re little couch potatoes now, their nutrition needs are much lower, so it’s easy to overfeed them,” said Case.
What is the recommended amount to feed your cat? Vet recommendations range from 24 to 35 calories a day per pound (2.2 pounds per kilo) to keep cats at a normal, healthy weight, Case said.
It is always best to ask your vet, said Susan G. Wynn, a veterinary nutritionist in Georgia and author of Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. “That way they will recognize abnormal and work toward normal,” Wyn said.
2. Feeding Only Dry Food
Most owners have brought a cat or two to the vet who was/were later diagnosed to be suffering from urinary tract infection.
Cats are usually given dry food ONLY, said Lisa A. Pierson, a California-based veterinarian focused on feline medicine and nutrition, and creator of CatInfo.org.
“We know that a cat’s sensitivity to thirst is blunted compared to a dog,” Case said. “They don’t voluntarily drink water like a dog would.”
A cat who drinks too little water will eventually develop concentrated urine, and then urinary tract problems. “When cats present with urinary tract problems, the recommendation is to get them on a water-rich diet,” Pierson said.
You can shift to canned food for a water-rich diet but this is so expensive. Or, you can add canned or wet food in the cats’ dry food like what we do for rescues of Save Animals of Love and Light-Save ALL Inc.
Pierson stressed canned food keeps cats hydrated.
“Think of canned food as hosing down your cat’s bladder several times a day.”
3. Offering Too Little Water
Water is clearly very important for cats. Fries said ASPCA experts have stressed “Essential to life, water accounts for 60% to 70% of an adult cat’s body weight.” They added: ”A serious water deficiency can have critical repercussions for pets, causing serious illness or death.”
Wet food helps a lot in keeping cats hydrated but cats should always have several sources of fresh water available around the house. “Pay attention to where the cat likes to be so that there’s water there,” Case said. “And be aware that some cats prefer running water; others can detect the taste of chlorine in tap water so you might want to buy bottled water for them.”
To make water more inviting for cats, here are tips from The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats:
”Locate a couple leaves of fresh catnip.
Fill a bowl with water and crush the leaves under the water
Sit back and watch susceptible kitties ‘go wild’”
4. Adding Garlic for Tapeworms
Some owners may have seen wiggly white stuff in their cat’s posterior. Those are a kind of tapeworm that reside in the cat’s small intestine. Some believe garlic added to the cat’s food will kill the worms.
“This is one of the biggest misconceptions around,” Bartges said. “There is no proof that garlic prevents any parasitic infestation, including intestinal worms or fleas.” Too much garlic is also bad for cats as it can destroy a cat’s red blood cells.
“The most common parasite found inside adult cats, tapeworms, are usually caused by kitty swallowing a flea. Although tapeworms aren’t life-threatening, they can lead to weight loss, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and other issues if left untreated,” Bartges added.
If you see tapeworm segments in your cat’s poop or near the anus, please consult a vet who will most likely prescribe a deworming medication. “Don’t treat kitty’s worms yourself — not all treatments work on all worms and you could end up doing more harm than good with the wrong medication,” Fries said.
5. Going Vegetarian or Vegan
Cats can not be shifted to a vegan diet, Fries said. “Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat mainly meat and animal organs to thrive. The amino acid taurine, for example, is found only in animal tissue. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experience heart problems, blindness, and even death,” Fries stressed.
“The nutrients cats need that come from meat, can be provided in the food synthetically,” Case said. “But you have to be very careful, and aware of the cat’s nutritional idiosyncrasies.”
6. Creating Nutrient Deficiencies
A number of owners are now interested in homemade food for their pets. But a full homemade diet may not contain all the nutrients your pet needs.
“A mistake that I often see well-meaning people make is the feeding of unbalanced homemade diets,” Pierson said.
Fries explained: “That’s because when making cat food from scratch, some people fail to balance the meat with the correct amount of calcium, forgetting ‘that a cat would be eating both the meat and bones of their prey, which provides a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.’”
Fries stressed that
1. A cat diet too heavy in tuna, liver, or liver oil (ex: cod liver oil), can lead to vitamin A toxicosis. This can cause bone and joint pain, and brittle bones.
2. A diet too rich in raw fish can destroy vitamin B1, which can lead to muscle weakness, seizures, or brain damage.
Always talk to your veterinarian who can guide you “away from food fads and steer you toward a balanced, healthy eating plan for your cat,” Fries stressed.
This article also appears in the Manila Standard
If you liked what you just read and want more of Our Brew, subscribe to get notified. Just enter your email below.
A Tribute to Female Hero Dogs this International Women’s Month
Mar 19, 2023
Mar 17, 2023
How To Cope with Pet Loss and Find Closure
Mar 16, 2023