With so many brands and types of cat food available it can be very difficult to know what meal is the best one for your cat. In recent years there has been a huge amount of research into feline nutrition, resulting in production of diets which provide all your cat’s needs. But what is the best? Home prepared diets, supermarket foods or premium pet foods?
Home-prepared diets can be very palatable depending on the ingredients used, but are usually not nutritionally complete, with the calcium/phosphorus balance, amino acid content and vitamin, mineral and fatty acid levels being particular problem areas. Dietary imbalances can result in serious health problems, for example bone disease in kittens eating a fresh meat only diet, blindness, heart disease and infertility in cats fed diets deficient in certain amino acids, deformity of the skeleton in cats fed too much liver and poor skin and coat condition in cats eating diets deficient in fatty acids.
Supermarket cat foods will usually meet your cat’s basic nutritional requirements but tend to have a flexible ingredient formula, depending on what is most cheaply available. Ingredient lists often use general terms such as meat and meat by-products, cereals, cereal by-products and vegetable proteins without stating the actual source. One batch of food may be completely different from the next. This may explain some bouts of diarrhoea that cats get when their diets have apparently not been changed. Cheaper ingredients result in reduced palatability and digestibility and a larger volume of stools with more odour. Artificial colours and flavour enhancers are often used and the balance of fatty acids, vital for a healthy skin and coat, is not optimal.
Veterinary recommended premium cat foods are quality cat foods available from veterinary clinics and some pet food stores. They are available in formulations to suit cats of all ages and activity levels, such as kitten, adult and low calorie, in both tinned and dried varieties.
These foods have the following advantages:-
Your first impression may be that these premium diets are expensive compared with supermarket brands. However, because of their high digestibility and high caloric density, your cat needs less of these foods to meet its nutritional needs. When this is taken into consideration and a cost per day is calculated, they compare favourably, especially when the quality of the ingredients and the consequent benefits listed previously are considered.
In addition to the above diets cats be fed raw chicken wings once or twice weekly to keep teeth and gums healthy. Cats should never be given cooked bones.
By virtue of their quality ingredients, premium cat foods have been found to be beneficial in a number of diseases, such as dietary intolerances, food allergies and urinary tract, intestinal and skin disorders. However, even more specialised diets have been produced to aid in the treatment of specific conditions. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best diet if your cat has a particular problem. Special diets are available for the following conditions:-
This depends on a number of factors such as the size of your cat and the amount of activity they receive as well as the type of food your pet is given. The best way to determine how much to feed your cat or kitten is to ask one of our healthcare team members for advice. If your pet is overweight we also provide a comprehensive weight loss clinic to manage healthy weight loss. Please do not hesitate to ask us for more information.