Dignified and free-spirited, even as they live under our roofs as our "pets," cats are far from subservient. Once held in the highest esteem by the Ancient Egyptians, cats roamed the Pharaohs' palaces, feasting on royal gourmet meals, lounging under sycamore trees, and flaunting their magnificence.
Centuries later, medieval peoples despised cats for their independence and inability to be trained to be loyal and obedient like dogs. But as time marched on, cats reclaimed their power to melt human hearts with their beauty, snuggles, and purrs. In modern times, cats live the good life in millions of American homes replete with sunny windowsills for naps and yummy food.
So why is your cat turning up her nose come mealtime? Or, does she seem to think her bowl is empty when it's still half full? Even worse, your cat may regurgitate her meals. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you may wonder: have you been feeding your cat wrong this whole time?
The wrong food
Cats are obligate carnivores and require a diet predominantly composed of animal protein. Only meat-based protein provides amino acids like taurine, which protects the eyes and heart, and essential fatty acids, which promote a healthy immune system and kidneys in addition to healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Before you decide your cat is just finicky, check the ingredient label on your cat's food and ensure it contains meat, poultry, fish, or eggs as the primary ingredients. Also, consider offering a combination of wet or canned cat food and dry food. Always select the best quality food you can afford, and switch them up until you find one your cat enjoys. Keep in mind that like people; cats can get bored with the same old menu. Add some spice to your cat's life, and alternate foods — turkey paté on Monday, seafood medley on Tuesday, cheesy polenta on Wednesday, and so on.
Keep in mind that any time you change your cat's diet, you'll need to transition to the new food over a period of seven-to-10 days to avoid upsetting his stomach.
If you're having a problem finding a cat food that appeals to your cat, consider becoming your cat's chef by making their food at home. However, be sure to consult with your veterinarian first to ensure you're following proper nutrition guidelines, and that your cat is a good candidate for a homemade diet.
You've finally turned your picky eater into a cat with a healthy appetite, yet she often regurgitates her meal immediately after scarfing it down. Unlike vomiting, regurgitation occurs right after a meal and the regurgitated food is tubular in shape, undigested, and covered in slimy mucus. On the other hand, if your cat is retching and heaving before expelling the contents of her stomach, she is vomiting. Both regurgitation and vomiting frequently need veterinary attention.
In many cases, regurgitation happens only occasionally and is a result of your cat eating too quickly. Solve the problem by feeding smaller meals throughout the day or slow her down by placing a ball in her food dish that she'll have to eat around. Another tool for slowing down overly enthusiastic eaters are treat balls filled with dry kibble. Combining meals with play time, treat balls release kibble slowly as your cat plays with it.
Your cat loves your home cooking or that premium food you switched to, he's finally eating more slowly, but now he's gained weight. What could be wrong?
You may need to brush up on some simple feeding guidelines to ensure your cat is eating the appropriate amount of food to maintain a healthy weight. Start with a visit to your vet, so they can weigh your cat. Your veterinarian can also recommend a proper feeding schedule and may also recommend a special diet until your cat is back to a healthy weight. Paying attention to feeding guidelines such as portion control and how often to feed is vital for the health and longevity of your feline friend.
While some cats self-regulate and stay svelte with self-feeding, many cats take advantage of a free buffet. Excess weight can significantly compromise a cat's health. It's up to you to recognize your cat's propensity for overindulging and remove the temptation to overeat.
As your cat ages, food intake will change, and serving sizes and feeding schedule need to be adjusted accordingly. The best way to maintain a healthy weight for your cat, in addition to feeding a nutritious diet, is regular veterinary checkups. Gaining or losing substantial weight should always be a cause for concern in cats. You may consider discussing the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil with your vet as it has shown remarkable results in cats with anorexia or loss of appetite.
Does your cat often pull her food out of the bowl to eat it off the floor, or leave a substantial portion of food around the sides and only eat the food at the bottom of the bowl? It could be a sign she is suffering from "whisker stress," also known as "whisker fatigue," a problem causing mental and physical disorders in some cats.
However, the verdict isn't entirely in on this issue, and several faculty members at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) were not familiar with whisker fatigue as a diagnosis. But the experts at the school's clinical nutrition service said that "there are many medical reasons for a cat's appetite to change, and it's important to investigate and address concerns with a veterinarian."
Whisker stress occurs when the food bowl is deep and narrower than the cat's head, including to the tips of the whiskers. As the cat needs to dip her head into the bowl, her whiskers touch the sides of the bowl causing her discomfort or even intense pain.
A cat's whiskers are incredibly sensitive, and they serve an important function in augmenting the cat's nearsighted vision. You can eliminate mealtime misery and relieve whisker stress by switching to a flat, compostable paper plate or purchase a large, flatter stainless steel pet dish for a few dollars, or fork out about $20 for one specially designed for whisker stress relief such as Dr. Catsby's.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.