My current cat Slash (pictured above) is lucky today for many reasons. One of them being the high quality cat food he eats. I’ve made several feeding mistakes with cats over the years. Unknowingly, I’ve fed them poor quality commercial cat food and people food (even milk and raw egg). Thank goodness I know better these days because it’s unfortunate for both the cat and you to learn the hard way.
One of our most important responsibilities as cat protectors is to provide your cat(s) with the necessary nutrients required for proper growth and maintenance because it’s the best chance they have at being healthy and living as long as possible. The six essential classes of nutrients fundamental for optimal health are: water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Water, as I’m sure you know is the most important nutrient. It is extremely important to have fresh clean water available at all times. Even if the water doesn’t appear to be dirty it’s still necessary to rinse and refill their water bowl at least once every day and more often when contamination is visible. Please don’t forget to wash your cat’s food and water bowl with soap then rinse with hot water from time to time. Once a week should be enough to eliminate bacteria and residue while ensuring their water is clean and fresh tasting. Keep in mind that if you wouldn’t like to drink it your cat shouldn’t have to either.
A deficiency of water will result in serious consequences. So if you have multiple cats you’ll want to make sure they are all eating and drinking regularly as they should. Remember it’s critical to have your cat seen by a veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem with them not wanting to eat or drink and/or are loosing weight.
I notice that my cat isn’t comfortable drinking when anyone enters his feeding area. If this happens I leave the area so he can continue on. Be sensitive to your cat’s feeding behavior, and make necessary adjustments to provide optimum environmental conditions. Their feeding area should be away from high traffic areas, noise, kids, and other animals.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals a cat needs the right amount. That’s why feeding your cat a complete and balanced diet using a high quality commercial cat food is important. Preparing your own cat food the right way is a difficult and time-consuming process. It is usually recommended that cat owners use a commercial nutritionally balanced product, unless a veterinarian recommends a home-formulated recipe for medical purposes. Often these recipes come from published sources and are created by veterinarians certified in animal nutrition. Unless a specific vitamin deficiency is diagnosed by a veterinarian it’s not necessary to give your cat a vitamin supplement. You might be surprised to learn that poisoning from excess vitamins is more common these days than a vitamin deficiency.
Your cat will require different nutrients throughout their life, depending on their age. These stages include kittens, adults, pregnancy, and lactation. The nutritional claim on the cat food label should state the stage of a cat’s life cycle for which the food is a complete and balanced product. Do you see something wrong here?
In a cat’s natural habitat, they are hunters that take in high amounts of protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates. It is important to read the ingredient list when choosing your cat’s food. This names all items used in the product, including flavor enhancers, artificial colors, and preservatives. The items are listed in order of decreasing proportional weight. Meat, meat products, or seafood should be listed among the first few ingredients.
The food type (dry, soft, or a combination) is a matter of what your cat prefers. Choose the ones that work best for your cat. These products differ in water content, protein level, caloric density, palatability, and digestibility. Many cats are content to eat a single product, although some cats may develop finicky eating habits and become very selective about what foods they’ll accept. Feeding your cat two or three different cat foods provides flavor variety, and may prevent your cat from developing an exclusive preference for a single food, this could help if a medical condition dictates a change in diet.
This is the food that Slash has been eating for a year now and he absolutely loves it. He’s only tried the chicken and duck recipes so far and likes them both but they also have one in salmon. It’s a good idea when trying out new foods to buy in the smallest quantity regardless of any cost savings. That way there is not waste if it doesn’t work out and your cat won’t be stuck having to get through it all.
I’d like to tell you why I think this food is so great. Blue Wilderness by The Blue Buffalo Co. is a healthy holistic convenient alternative to a raw diet. It’s high in protein, 100% grain free, no chicken or poultry by-product meals, artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and no corn, wheat, or soy. The protein is from high quality sources as in deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and fish meal. Healthy complex carbohydrates come from sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes. Cranberries, blueberries, and carrots are the antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables in it. The dark pieces are called LifeSource Bits. This is a precise blend of the nutrients and antioxidants used by holistic veterinarians to help promote immune system health and provide life stage support.
The Guaranteed Analysis of Blue Wilderness includes: Crude Protein 40%, Crude Fat 18%, Crude Fiber 3.5%, Moisture 10%, Magnesium 0.08%, Taurine 0.15%, Omega 3 Fatty Acids 0.9%, Omega 6 Fatty Acids 3.5%.
The Guaranteed Analysis of that Generic food includes: Crude Protein 30%, Crude Fat 9%, Crude Fiber 4.5%, Moisture 12%.
The first 10 ingredients of Blue Wilderness are: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potato Starch, Fish Meal (natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (naturally preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Peas, Potatoes, Flaxseed (natural source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), and Alfalfa Meal. It even gets better from there but there are too many to list.
The first 10 ingredients of the generic food are: Corn Germ Meal, Wheat Middlings, Ground Yellow Corn, Poultry By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Meat & Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (preserved with BHA), Animal Digest, Fish Meal. It gets much worse from there. Salt is the next ingredient, high on the list with Brewers Dried Yeast next.
That shows a major difference in the quality of these commercial cat foods. In regards to price, I buy Blue Wilderness from PetCo for about $23 (including tax) for a 6lb bag. Buying a high quality food is like preventative medicine so consider what you will save in medical expenses by keeping them out of the vets office and off prescription medication. Not to mention the extra years your pet lives are PRICELESS.
If you use dry food, it is important to store unused portions in a cool, dry location, and not to use the food after its expiration date. Lengthy storage decreases the activity and potency of many vitamins and increases the likelihood that fats have become rancid. Storing dry cat food in an airtight container can help prevent nutrient deterioration and help maintain palatability.
Be careful not to overfeed your cat. Obesity is the most common nutrition-related problem in cats. An overweight cat is prone to other health problems such as diabetes and arthritis. There are pet foods formulated to help cats lose weight. Check with your veterinarian to determine the ideal weight for your cat and how much you should be feeding them.
Important note: Do not give your cat raw eggs. Raw egg white contains avidin, an anti-vitamin that interferes with the metabolism of fats, glucose, amino acids and energy.
Here’s to good nutrition and a long life for your cat(s)!
References: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/nutrients-your-cat-needs.aspx, http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/feedcats.html, and http://www.bluebuffalo.com/