When you think about your cat’s diet, do you think that any food they’ll eat must be good food?
While it’s true that cats will often gobble down things that we consider junk food, it doesn’t mean you should feed them scraps or bargain food. Feeding a good cat diet is important for your feline friend’s health and well-being.
Often cheaper cat food has ingredients in it that are unsafe, full of toxic preservatives, humectants, and flavoring agents to entice cat to eat it.
You might be saving money in the short term, but you’ll be setting yourself up for hefty vet bills in the long run, and also creating serious pain and discomfort for your furry companion.
After all, they are an important member of your family. Cats are known as healers, and they often have different ways of sharing their affection.
3 reasons to choose a healthy cat diet
Cats, like humans, won’t thrive on a fast-food, high carbohydrate, kibble diet.
Eating the wrong cat diet, they can fall victim to arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and obesity, just like people.
The only difference between us and felines is, once they’re living in captivity, they have very little control over their diet. Cats rely on us to provide them with healthy food, especially when they are living indoors.
Cats are natural predators…their diet has to mimic that fact, so here are three reasons to choose a good cat diet that will extend your pet’s life.
1. Dental health
Just like humans, many health complications emerge in house cats with poor dental hygiene.
Your cat might have bad breath — which is unpleasant — but the infections that can cause halitosis might be much more serious than you think for their immune system and overall health.
Kittens lose their baby teeth between four and six months. During that time, there are gaps in their mouth that are bacteria magnets.
You probably go to the dentist regularly, to be sure your teeth and gums are in good shape.
But how is your cat maintaining their oral health? They need good quality food and treats that aid in removing plaque and stimulate their gums to maintain the strength of their teeth and the cleanliness of their mouth.
2. Cats are carnivores
Like it or not, your cat is a hunter, a predator, a carnivore. They will never do well with a vegetarian or vegan diet.
So, while you may have chosen to eliminate meat from your diet and have replaced the protein with bean, meat alternatives, and supplements, your cat needs animal protein.
It’s a source of a vital amino acid — taurine — that aids in the development of strong muscles, including the heart.
Fish-based cat food may work well — it’s loaded with Omega fatty acids that fuel your feline’s body…and suits their digestive system. However, most fish has been contaminated with heavy metals and other nasty toxins or parasites, and is very unhealthy. Offering fish as an occasional treat to a healthy cat should be fine, but beware a steady diet of it.
Avoid foods that have an excess of fillers, like wheat and barley. They might fill your cat’s belly, but they won’t provide the protein they need for healthy development. And they may lead to obesity and diabetes, and many other problems.
Also, cats naturally are designed to hunt and eat their prey raw, which has not been baked in an oven or processed at high heat in a tin can. Prey creatures have blood, moisture (water) and partially digested food in their intestines, bones and organs and so much more.
When you decide what to feed your kitty, go with wet high quality food, not dry cardboard style kibble. Some cats do well enough with quality wet food, and some do better eating raw food.
3. Cats need hydration
There’s nothing wrong with feeding your feline dry food diet occasionally as a treat or food topping. It’s easier to store, usually less expensive, and you have more options for ingredients that suit your cat’s palate.
But remember, they also need ready access to water, and they can overload on carbs, just like us…so follow the instructions on the package and pay attention to your kitty’s needs.
On the flipside, the wrong wet food can rob your cat of the roughage they need to keep their digestive system running smoothly. You’ll often see outdoor cats and dogs eating grass…they’re simply trying to get their guts working again so they can clean up their insides.
If you have an indoor cat, consider keeping cat grass (or add some other source of fiber to their food) that will help them keep their digestive tract on track.
Your cat can’t go to the grocery store
Your cat has basic dietary needs…and then they develop their own tastes, just like children. In fact, there is a phase as they grow up where they learn what’s good to eat and what’s not good to eat, and after that it can be quite difficult to change their mind about what’s acceptable and what’s not!
However, unlike your kids who will grow up and be able to shop on their own and satisfy their taste buds, and — hopefully — make wise dietary choices…
Your cat can’t do the same thing. It’s up to you to communicate with them, explain why various foods are good for them and why some aren’t, and then fulfill their dietary needs.
You might think that good quality food is too expensive, that it’s too much trouble to research the alternatives…
…but think about the pain you might put your cat companion through if they end up with kidney stones, ulcers, or abdominal cancer because you’ve overloaded their body with toxic food.
Cats are designed to hunt and eat little bits during the day, but free grazing (eating whenever they wish) with a poor quality kibble is a bad idea. Smaller more nutritious wet food meals make for a healthier, long lived kitty.
It helps if you can talk to your cat, and find out what suits their palate, and what meets their nutritional needs, and what makes them feel sick or causes pain.
Remember, your cat goes through growth phases, just like we do. Food that suits them at six months won’t keep them fit when they’re five years old…or ten, or twenty.
You can set your cat up for a long, healthy life without stressful visits to a veterinary clinic by feeding them a quality cat food diet.
If you’d like to learn more about feline health, reach out to us.