Common Cat Feeding Mistakes
It is tempting to treat your cat to a variety of foods which they might enjoy eating but which could cause them harm. The occasional morsel of something naughty is fine but cats require a balanced diet and the correct quantity of food to achieve optimum health. Here are some common cat feeding errors to avoid.
Most domestic cats lead more sedentary lives than their ancestors did in the wild. They are also less active than feral cats who have to hunt for food. Pet cats therefore require less food. Despite the fact that most cats are relatively good at controlling their intake of food, obesity in cats is common in the UK. Cats may look cute when they are a little podgy but this is not good for their health.
Obesity can lead to arthritis, diabetes and urinary tract disease. The quantity of food that your cat requires will depend on their size and how active they are. You should acquaint yourself with what a healthy cat looks like. If your cat appears overweight then moderate their food intake or switch to foods formulated to aid weight loss or weight control.
Providing Insufficient Water
A cat’s natural diet of prey is 70% water. Domestic cats obtain most of the water they need from moist cat foods but could need to drink water as well. Cats on a diet of dry food will need to drink more. It is essential that a source of clean water is always available to your cat.
Creating Nutrient Deficiencies
Cats are carnivores and so should not be fed a vegetarian diet. In addition, many owners provide meat based homemade foods which do not offer the required nutrients. In the wild, cats eat the entire prey including the bones. Homemade foods can be deficient in calcium. The provision of too much tuna or liver can lead to vitamin A toxicosis which will result in brittle bones, joint pain and dry skin. Too much fish can destroy vitamin B1 leading to muscle weakness or brain damage. Commercially produced cat foods are formulated to provide a balanced diet.
Ignoring the Signs of Food Allergies
Cats can develop sensitivities to particular proteins and carbohydrates. Fillers in foods can induce allergic reactions. If your cat is not quite themselves or is scratching themselves, especially around the neck area, then they may be reacting to their food. Switch brands to see if this makes a difference and if there are no improvements consult your vet.
Letting Dry Foods Go off
Dry foods are convenient and have a reasonable shelf life but once you have opened the packets the foods can go off. They will lose some of their nutritional value if they are left sitting around for some time. Always check use by dates before offering the food and store it in a sealed container once you have opened the box or packet.
Cats are relatively easy pets to look after but they do have specific nutritional requirements. Ignoring these will lead to a raft of health issues. If you are in any doubt about your cat’s dietary needs or whether they are a healthy weight, then seek professional advice.