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Kitty food for thought

More than just a pretty package; picking the right food for your cat.

We've all made fun of that fat cat trying to waddle down the street, but rarely do we want to be the owner of that same pudgy pet. Obesity can shorten the lifespan of a feline and make them more susceptible to diseases and health conditions. To avoid this, people should be aware of what they're feeding their cats and try to provide a balanced and nutritious palette of food.

An owner has to take into consideration that different types of cats require different types of food. First, you have to factor in the age, body condition and health history of your cat. If you want your cat to lose weight, then you will be getting a different type of cat food than if you were trying to maintain it's weight or if it's a kitten.

One of the biggest mistakes that cat owners make is feeding them table food. Cats cannot get the proper nutrition from human food as they require a balance of amino acids and proteins. In fact, when looking for cat food, make sure that they contain things such as Taurine, Arginine, Arachidonic acid and Linoleic acid. Cats also require preformed Vitamin A which only comes from animal origin based foods. Table food can simply not provide this and should not be given to pets as it also contains sugars and salts that cats do not need. Also consider that human food is considerably more fattening and could cause your cat to develop an obesity problem.

Cats cannot digest corn or corn products. When looking at the nutritional label of a cat food, look for the first five ingredients, which will comprise approximately 85 percent of the food. Feeding your cat a food that has a corn product in the first five ingredients is a waste of money because the cat eats more to get the nutrients it needs and the filler product goes straight into the litter box. Cats will eat less food and poop less eating a food with no fillers. You should also steer clear of by-products; another type of filler that has no real nutritional value for your cat. It's also widely unknown what exactly the by-products are within each food, so you don't want to give your cat something if you don't know what it is.

Another mistake owners make is feeding too much. A 10 pound cat with an average activity level needs about 1 cup to 1/4; cups of good quality dry food daily. If you are leaving food out constantly for your cat, they may be overeating. If your cat has or develops a weight problem, feeding portions two or three times daily is a great way to solve this problem.

By feeling the sides of your cat's chest wall, you can determine whether it's overweight or not. If you can feel their ribs without pressing inward than your cat is fine. If you can't, it's probably time for it to go on a diet. Also when you look at your cat's back from above, if the sides of their stomach extend farther than their hips or shoulders, they may be overweight.

Along with cutting down portions, and excluding human food, the most effective dieting cat foods aren't going to be found in grocery stores. You're probably going to have to go to a vet office or pet stores.

Hold on, you say, we have to go to the vet office for cat food? There are varying levels of cat food, each with its own pros and cons. Here's a generalization of that:

  1. Cat food from a grocery store. Mass-marketed and the most affordable. You get what you pay for with these goods. Generally they provide the least healthy and nutritious of the types of cat food. This is because this food is usually made with lower-quality ingredients.
  2. Cat food that is premium. These types of foods are a higher-grade and can be found at grocery stores, pet stores and vets, but do have some of the grocery store cat food qualities such as artificial preservatives, flavors and colors. If money is tight, these are a good way to go until you can switch your cat to something really good. Some good foods to try are Natural Choice, Purina ProPlan, Iams and Hill's Science Diet.
  3. Health food for cats. And you thought the health food market was just for humans. Health food provides the best quality and most nutritious food for you cat specifically designed to give your cat the best possible thing it can put in its body. Usually found in pet stores and vet offices, the great foods to try are Blue Buffalo, By Nature, Royal Canin and Eukanueba.

Most foods that are best to feed your cat will be found in a good pet store. Veterinarians carry certain brands and formulas, and unless they are prescription only, they can usually be found cheaper in a store.

Once you have determined what quality of cat food you would like to feed your cat, you should also find out what specific type that it prefers. Much like humans, cats have very picky personalities and will prefer something over another. Smell is the most important factor to a cat whether or not a food is edible. Some cats will prefer chicken-based foods or fish-based foods, or a number of others. Keep in mind that unless you have a cat that cannot crunch up dry food, such as a very old cat, it is unwise to feed only canned food. Feeding only canned food can cause dental problems like plaque buildup. It's all relative to what the cat wants, and also don't forget to factor in health concerns and conditions.

So while it may seem complicated, once you find the best fit for your cat, you'll appreciate having a healthy pet around for years.


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