How to feed cats
How to feed your cat? What and how much your cat cat will depend on its weight, size and age, don’t always go by what your neighbour is feeding their cat! Here is information about what you should and shouldn’t feed your cat.
What do cats eat?
Cat is a carnivore who has shap teeth to tear flesh. Their dietary requirments vary from us in many respects.
Meat(Fat & Protein)
Cats are obligate (strict) carnivores and are very different from dogs in their nutritional needs. It means cats cannot utilize plant proteins as efficiently as animal proteins.
Adult cats require a minimum of 21 percent protein and kittens need 35 percent.This is at least twice the level required for dogs.
Cats also require high levels of fats in their diet.This is used as a source of energy as well as a source of essential fatty acids and vitamins.
- Cats Need Animal-Based Protein. The protein in dry food, which is often heavily plant-based, is not equal in quality to the protein in canned food, which is meat-based.
You will notice that many of the higher protein diets are fish-based but it is not a good idea to feed fish to cats. Or, at least not as their main diet. Fish can be high in mercury, high in PBDEs (fire retardant chemicals linked to hyperthyroidism), high in phosphorus (not good for older cats’ kidneys) and can be very addicting.
- It is best to feed poultry-based diets to cats.
The water requirement of cats varies considerably with the type of diet being fed. Cats fed on canned foods, which contain as much as 75 percent water, only need to drink small quantities once daily. If dry food is the main source of food a much greater quantity of water must be provided as these foods only contain about 10 percent water.
- Your cat should always have free access to fresh, clean water. Water bowls should be cleaned every day.
Most cats are actually lactose intolerant. Feeding milk and milk derivatives to cats can actually cause them to vomit or have diarrhea.
- Milk should not be fed to cats as a treat or a substitute for water.
Cats require comparatively high levels of Vitamin A. Pregnancy and the subsequent feeding of a litter increases the requirement dramatically. Lack of sufficient levels of Vitamin A may be reflected in a weak litter failing to gain weight and susceptible to disease.
- Vitamin A is contained in liver, eggs and milk.Care should be taken to feed liver only once or twice weekly in small amounts. Excess of this vitamin can bring about deformities of the skeleton.
Vitamin D is required only in very small quantities.
- The use of Vitamin supplements intended for human use should be used with caution as these usually contain high levels of Vitamin D.
Calcium and Phosphorus
The important minerals in the diet of cats are calcium and phosphorus. In the newborn kitten calcium levels are very low and the only source is the milk of the mother.
Cat’s milk contains relatively low levels of calcium, so by the time the kitten is weane at 6 weeks it is growing rapidly but still has no reserves of calcium. It is most important that the owner realizes this and adjusts the diet accordingly.
- It is very important to understand that plain meat (ie – without bones or another source of calcium) is very unbalanced since there is minimal calcium in meat.
In the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture, meat/organ-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with only approximately 1-2 percent of her diet consisting of carbohydrates.
Obligate carnivores are designed to meet their energy needs with a high protein, moderate fat diet with little to no carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are minimally used for energy and those that are not used are converted to and stored as fat.
- We would like to stay under 10% of calories coming from carbohydrates.
Taurine is one of the most important nutrients present in meat but it is missing from plants. Taurine deficiency will cause blindness and heart problems in cats. Taurine, an amino acid that is important for normal heart function, vision and reproduction.
- Raw organ meat and cat foods high in animal protein contain enough taurine.
It is recommend to offer the grass to your cat when it’s approximately 3 to 4 inches tall. As the grass wilts (typically in a few weeks), pull out the shoots and plant more seeds.
Foods that are Dangerous or Toxic to Cats
- Coffee or caffeinated products – caffeine isn’t just found in tea and coffee, it’s also in cocoa, chocolate, cola and stimulant drinks. It can also be found in some cold medicines and painkillers, so never ever leave these lying around.
- Bread doug
- Fruit stones – for example, mango seeds or apricot pips
- Fruit seeds
- Milk and other dairy products – this one seems strange, because you so often see kittens snacking on a bowl of milk. But don’t be fooled, most cats are actually lactose intolerant.
- Raw Eggs, Raw Meat & Bones
- Alcohol and Raw Dough
- Dog Food – Though dog food is not toxic to cats, your cat needs a very different set of nutrients than a dog. Cat food should contain plenty of vitamin A, taurine, arachidonic acid and protein, and dog food has much lower levels of these nutrients.