Online Veterinary Education Library
Our team of veterinarians and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with their health. Please use our educational library to learn more about health problems and treatments available for your pet. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
- Small Animals
It is critical that you make fresh water available to your cat at all times. Keep the water fresh by changing it frequently; at least three to four times a day. Use a low bowl or saucer that your cat can easily access and wash it with soap and water daily.
Diet and Nutrition
Cats are naturally carnivores. A well-balanced cat diet must contain a combination of more than 60 different nutrients, including taurine, vitamin A and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also need protein for healthy body tissues, carbohydrates for energy, fats to enhance absorption of nutrients, vitamins for metabolism and minerals for healthy hair, skin and development. That's why your best bet is to purchase commercial cat food that is specially designed for the purpose. Commercial cat foods are even available with the ideal balance of nutrients for different stages in you cat's life — when they are kittens, nursing mothers or seniors. Because the complex balance of nutrients is so critical, don't buy inexpensive brands that may contain increased levels of fillers. It's worth the added expense for premium brands to maintain a healthy cat. Food choices include dry cat food, kibble or canned food. Some owners like to combine dry and canned cat food. To ensure your selection has the quality ingredients your cat needs, read the label and make sure your chosen brand contains a minimum of 28% protein, 36% carbohydrates and 21% fats, with the remainder in vitamins and minerals.
Cats need to be fed one to two meals a day. Some people believe cats do better if they are allowed to graze and eat small amounts throughout the day. You and your cat can determine which approach works best for you. However, don't leave moist foods out for more than 30 minutes or they will spoil. You can supplement the diet with a little bit of human food, but make this a rare occurrence, not a daily expectation. Cats have difficulty digesting human food. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea to serve your cat milk, either. Cats don't possess the enzymes to break down milk other than that produced by their mothers. Your cat will probably experience gastrointestinal problems if exposed to milk. If you have difficulty getting your cat to eat the food you offer, try heating it up by zapping it in a microwave for a few seconds. You don't want it to be too hot, but heat helps release the flavor and scent, which makes the food more appealing to cats.
Treats provide an important training reward to teach cats new behaviors. However, they tend to be high in fat and sugar content, so try to limit how many your cat eats every day. Obesity is a trend among indoor cats and causes many health problems.
Finally, use heavy glass or ceramic bowls for your cat's food and water, each with a low lip so that it is easily accessed. Plastic bowls hold odors. Even if you can't detect the smell, your cat will and it could be enough to keep your cat from eating.