By Joyce McNally
You can keep your cat happy and healthy by feeding the right kind and amount of food.
Have you ever looked inside your cat’s mouth? Its teeth are shaped for cutting, tearing, and slicing. Domesticated cats need meat as part of their daily requirements.
An average adult cat’s diet should include at least 28 percent protein, which helps regulate metabolism and build and repair tissue.
At least 9 percent of the daily intake should include fats, which transport vitamins through the body and help maintain a healthy coat.
Carbohydrates provide energy and should be no more than 40 percent of your cat’s daily allowance.
A premium-quality food will contain the correct percentages and also include vitamins and minerals.
Should you feed your cat dry or wet food?
Eating dry food will exercise a cat’s gums and help maintain dental health, but it only contains about 10 percent water.
Wet food contains 75 percent water on the average, so if using dry food, it’s important to make sure your pet is drinking enough water. Adequate water is important, especially for pets that are prone to urinary tract disease if they have been on a dry-only diet.
Moist foods may be easier on older cats that have lost all or part of their teeth.
If you do feed your cats only wet food, ASPCA experts recommend that you include a crunchy treat.
Make sure you pay attention to any special feeding requirements, no matter what type of food you use. Young cats need the nutrients found in kitten food, and lactating mothers can use extra calories.
Just because your elderly cat’s metabolism is slowing down doesn’t mean you should cut back on her food intake. Some older cats can lose weight if they have digestive problems, so your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet.
Never feed dog food to your cat. It won’t meet the protein requirements, nor will it contain adequate levels of taurine, an essential amino acid. Inadequate levels of taurine in the diet have been linked to feline heart disease and blindness.
Always make sure your cat’s food is room temperature at feeding time. Cats have an excellent sense of smell and taste and may refuse food if it’s too hot or too cold, has an unpleasant odor, or has been left out too long.
Throw away any wet food that hasn’t been eaten within 15 minutes.
The ASPCA recommends some healthy alternatives to store-bought treats. Some human foods are not appropriate for cats, but given in moderation, you can feed rice, small bits of string cheese, well-cooked hamburger, and skinned chicken breast.
Avoid spicy and fatty foods and never give bones to your cat.
Absolute no-nos are onions and chocolate which can be toxic.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great food, especially for overweight cats. You might try carrot sticks, apples, and cooked green beans. Also among the favorites are fresh melon, corn, and cooked broccoli.
You can find further information on health needs at www.americanhumane.org or check with your local veterinarian.
Lastly, the best gift you can give your favorite cat is to have it spayed or neutered. Call PAWS at 918-470-7297 to see if you qualify for financial assistance for this procedure.
If you want to adopt a kitten, check with the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter.
Joyce McNally is a PAWS volunteer and advocate for prevention of pet abuse and neglect. Comments or questions can be directed to her at email@example.com.