Providing your cat with a tasty and nutritious diet is one of the ways you show you care. And feeding time sometimes poses challenges, especially with cats that are super picky. (Or are they just reminding you of their diva status?) Here are some ways to keep your cat well fed and healthy.
1. Different Life Stages, Different Nutritional Needs
Think about the significant difference in the nutritional needs of a kitten vs. a senior cat. Quality foods are formulated with that in mind. For example, because they are growing, kittens need more protein and fat in their diet. Consider the following timeline – of course, check with your veterinarian for any specifics pertaining to your cat:
- Kitten – the first 12 months
- Adult – ages 1- 7
- Senior – ages 7+
2. A Change in Diet Shouldn’t be Cold Turkey
Whether you've adopted a new cat or have decided to upgrade your cat's food, transitioning to a new food can be challenging. Take a methodical approach to ease that transition on your cat – and his or her digestive tract. Take 7-10 days and gradually mix in more and more of the new food. On the final day your cat should be eating only the new food. Learn more about making the transition here.
3. Quality and Quantity: The Essentials
Garfield said he wasn't fat, he was fluffy. But let's be real: overfeeding doesn't create fluff. Overweight cats are more prone to experience internal conditions, such as diabetes, and external ones, such as arthritis. Ask your vet about the recommended quantity for your particular cat. And while we often use treats to show love, treats should be used minimally. (And treats should never include lasagna.)
On the quality side, you will want a food that is complete and balanced, meeting the standards of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). But you also want more. You want the fine-tuned nutrition that helps your cat live the best life possible. You also want a food that tastes great and that your cat will enjoy. Check out the Guaranteed Analysis on packaging to make nutritional comparisons and help you decide on the best food choice for your cat.
4. Cats Need Meat
While many people have opted for a vegan or vegetarian diet, this simply doesn't give cats the nutrition they need. Scientifically speaking, animal protein is a complete protein. Plant-based proteins do not contain the complete amino acids and are a partial protein. The human body can take, say, the combo of beans and rice and make a protein. Cats can't do that. Also, only meat contains the critical amino acid taurine, which is necessary for cats to help prevent blindness and heart problems.
5. Benefits of Wet Food
Beyond the benefit of including real meat in your cat's diet, another benefit is the increased moisture content. This aids in hydration, as well as staving off potential health issues, including kidney stones. Wet food also has far more flavor options, creating a healthy way to make variety the spice of your cat's life, too. Visit Purina Pro Plan to learn more about the benefits of wet food and to receive a substantial savings coupon.
6. Don’t Forget Water
While technically not food, of course, water is a critical component to your cat's health. And it turns out that some cats don't like their water to be right next to their food. Consider placing multiple bowls around the house to encourage drinking. Visit Purina Pro Plan for additional ways to make sure your cat stays hydrated.
These tips, along with a quality diet, can help you create the perfect combo of food your cat loves with the nutrition it needs. Your cat may not say thank you, but you'll know he knows you're taking care of him.