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Cats + Nutrition

  • The optimal diet varies from species to species, and contains an ideal ratio of the major essential nutrients of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as adequate levels of trace nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. While a recipe for a home-cooked diet may appear to come from a knowledgeable source, ideas about what constitutes the ideal diet for dogs and cats is currently evolving. Your veterinarian can help ensure that your pet's diet is appropriate and healthy.

  • This handout discusses the risks and benefits of feeding a home-prepared versus commercial diet to your cat or dog. Topics highlighted include food safety, nutritional imbalances, and the need to ensure that any home-prepared diet has been well researched for nutritional safety and completeness.

  • Veterinarians recognize the relationship between nutrition and the health of the skin and haircoat. It is important to prevent malnutrition, both by preventing deficiencies AND excesses of nutrients. Your veterinarian is the very best source of information and guidance for choosing the most appropriate nutrient profile for your cat.

  • In North America, obesity is the most common preventable disease in cats and is one of the most common overall. Almost 60% of domestic cats are overweight. Scientific evidence now reveals that fat tissue is biologically active; it secretes inflammatory hormones and creates oxidative stress on the body’s tissue, both of which contribute to many diseases and decrease quality of life. Treating obesity as a chronic, low-level inflammatory condition is the new approach.

  • The American Animal Hospital Association and American Veterinary Medical Association have established guidelines to standardize preventive health care for cats, helping them to live longer, healthier lives. This handout provides an overview of the recommendations within these guidelines and why they are so important.

  • Adding a new kitten to your family is a lot of fun, but it is also a big responsibility. This handout reviews basic kitten care, including vaccinations, internal and external parasites, nutrition, and nail care. It also reviews the importance of early spay/neuter and microchip identification.

  • Taurine is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of all proteins. Taurine is an essential amino acid in the cat. Taurine deficiency will lead to feline taurine retinopathy, a weakening of the muscle cells in the heart, causing a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and may cause digestive disturbances. Taurine was first recognized as a necessary component of the cat's diet in the late 1980's. Since then, all diets that are formulated for cats are supplemented with enough taurine to meet the normal cat's needs. A healthy cat that eats a high-quality cat food that is appropriate to its life stage does not require supplementation. Supplemental taurine is used as a treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy in cats. There are isolated occurrences of taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Your veterinarian may have preferred supplement manufacturers that he or she will recommend.

  • Tube feeding is important to maintain adequate nutrition and prevent liver problems in cats that are anorexic for at least 2 days. Tube feeding may be needed because of a mechanical problem interfering with ingestion of food or because of a systemic illness that is causing the cat to be anorexic. There are several different options for tube feeding. Naso-esophageal/naso-gastric intubation passes a tube down the nose into the esophagus and sometimes into the stomach. This is only suitable for short term feeding. Placement of an esophageal tube requires sedation or anesthesia as a hole is made through the skin and esophagus to pass the tube through into the esophagus. An esophageal tube can be maintained for weeks to months. A gastrostomy tube requires anesthesia to pass a tube through the skin directly into the stomach. This is beneficial for longer term feeding. A tube must be protected to prevent the cat from pulling it out. The recommended diet is administered in liquid form by a syringe several times a day. Complications are rare with clogging and inadvertent removal most common.

  • Too much vitamin A can lead to poisoning. While somewhat uncommon in North America, vitamin A toxicity is sometimes diagnosed in cats that are fed primarily table scraps. There seems to be considerable variability in how susceptible individual cats are to this problem. It takes a long time for the clinical signs associated with vitamin A toxicity to develop; symptoms do not usually appear until the cat is at least middle-aged.

  • Designer diets cover a range of options that target specific feline nutritional needs. While some designer foods include certain ingredients like novel protein sources, others exclude certain ingredients like grains. Determining what diet is best for your cat should include a discussion with your veterinarian as there is no documented data that designer diets are any healthier for the average cat than traditional, commercial preparations.

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