Nutritional Information on Cats
Cat’s health, happiness and longevity are closely related to a healthy diet that satisfies their specific nutritional requirements. In comparison to humans and dogs, cats need more proteins and fats, and fewer carbohydrates. They also need vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and other essential nutrients, all in the right proportions and quantities. The last but not the least important, they need easy access to fresh water to stay hydrated.
Wet vs Dry Food
There is no agreement on which is better, wet or dry food. In comparison to dry food, wet food is higher in fat and protein content and lower in carbs, and much higher in moisture as it is more than 75% water. In addition to meeting feline nutritional needs, wet food also provides much of the necessary hydration. Dry food, on the other hand, contains only about 10% moisture. It is also slightly higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein. But it is higher in calories, less expensive and more convenient. And according to some experts, it helps prevent dental problems.
No matter if feeding your cat with wet or dry food, make sure that it meets the standards of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) because it means that the food contains the right proportions and quantities of nutrients to satisfy your pet’s nutritional needs. If you are having difficulties deciding between wet and dry food, ask your veterinarian for advice.
Many cats are overweight or obese because they are overfed. Just like in humans, overweight and obesity in cats can lead to serious health problems including diabetes and arthritis. To help your cat maintain a healthy body weight and avoid overweight-related health problems, it is crucial to establish her ideal daily calorie intake. The latter depends on several factors including age, amount of physical activity and some other factors that vary from one cat to another. You are recommended to consult your veterinarian who will help you establish both the ideal body weight and food portions/daily calorie intake for your cat.
The Importance of Easy Access to Fresh Water
Cats have a low thirst drive. This is because in their natural environment they get most of the necessary water from food. Their favorite prey – mice and other rodents – are roughly 70% water and besides satisfying the cat’s protein and energy needs, they also keep her well hydrated. Cats that are fed with dry food (approximately 10% water content) thus aren’t getting enough water from their diet and should be provided with easy access to fresh water. Wet food (more than 75% water) is even higher in water content than cats’ natural food but it is very important for your feline friend to have easy access to fresh water even if she is fed with wet food. If not drinking/obtaining enough water, cats can develop serious health problems including kidney disease.
Resist the temptation to replace water with milk to encourage your cat to drink more. Cats love milk but they don’t really need it. In addition, many cats – just like their human owners – are lactose intolerant. As a result, they can experience gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and upset stomach.