How To Keep Your Cat Healthy - Cat Feeding Explained

Cats have a reputation for being finicky eaters, but that is usually a distortion of the truth. Cats have a very keen sense of taste and smell, and they know what they like. If you have fed your cat the same food for years, then change brands, she may boycott the new menu. If you must change her diet, do it over time, mixing just a bit of the new food with plenty of the old favorite. Slowly increase the amount of new food and decrease the old.

Cats are creatures of habit. Your feline friend will feel more calm and comfortable if you feed her at the same time each day. If more than one cat shares your home, be sure that each has a food and water bowl of its own. This lessens competition, territoriality, and ensures that everyone is getting their fair share of nutrition.

Cats have unusual nutritional needs and you should check the labelling of your chosen cat foods to ensure they are included, or consider nutritional supplements. These include:

* Vitamin A

* Niacin

* Essential Fatty Acids

* Taurine

The amount and frequency of food you put out depends on the age, health, and activity level of your cat. Kittens under 12 weeks of age usually need to eat about four times each day. Adult cats benefit from twice-a-day feedings. Read packaging labels or ask your veterinarian for guidelines on how much food your cat should eat each day. Don't panic if your cat skips a meal, but if she doesn't eat for more 48 hours, contact your vet. But, keep in mind that if your cat is allowed to roam outdoors, she may be ruining her appetite at a neighbor's house. Never feed your cat table scraps. They are unhealthy for her, and create annoying begging behaviors.

I would always pick a meat-based cat food over a vegetable-based one. Despite the fact that you will pay more for the meat food, if you are concerned about the health of your cat, this will be a cost worth paying. And because meat-based products are generally of better quality, your cat will be satisfied with less of the quality cat food that she would be with a lesser quality product.

Moist, or canned food is usually a favorite - the moisture amplifies the scent-but make sure your cat also eats dry food regularly. Leave a bowl of dry kibble out for your cat to snack on throughout the day; the crunchy food helps clean her teeth. If you do feed "wet" food, make it available for about 30 minutes, and throw away the uneaten portion. This teaches your cat to "get it while the getting is good." Never leave canned food in a dish all day long; it attracts ants, cockroaches, and creates a bad habit in your cat.

In addition to a bowl of dry kibble, make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water in a clean bowl. If your home is large, or has multiple levels, consider putting out more than one water bowl so that she always has access to water and won't need to try quenching her thirst via an "unsafe" supply.

Most people know that cats are carnivores, or meat eaters, and are puzzled when their cats begin eating houseplants. This could be dangerous - some plants are toxic. A plant-snacking cat may be trying to get required minerals that might be lacking from the commercial food she eats. Give her access to a planter pot of "cat grass" (available at pet supply stores and garden centers), and she'll leave your other plants alone.

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In The News:

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