Cat Food & Nutritional Services South Portland ME
South Portland, ME
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Dietary Supplements for Cats?
Pet food stores have aisles dedicated to dietary supplements for pets, and if you're a devoted cat owner, you may wonder if you should be giving Fluffy cat vitamins or other supplements.
Ideally, you want to feed a healthy feline diet that provides all the nutrition necessary for your cat's optimal health. If you're feeding your cat a premium cat food and she's in good health, there is probably no reason to add supplements to her diet. But if she has health conditions for which supplements might seem warranted, your vet can evaluate whether they're necessary and help you monitor their efficacy.
The pet supplement industry is not tightly regulated. A recent FDA-sponsored study on dietary supplements for horses, dogs and cats stressed that clear and precise regulations need to be established so "only safe animal dietary supplements are allowed on the market." The committee added that current regulations addressing animal dietary supplements are in "disarray."
For example, garlic can cause hemolytic anemia in cats, but there are numerous garlic dietary supplements for cats on the market. Small amounts might not kill your cat, but the health benefits are questionable and your money is better spent on premium cat food.
Although many cats live long, healthy lives without supplements, there are instances in which supplements can be beneficial to your cat's health. Here are the most common dietary and vitamin supplements for cats:
Dietary supplements for pets are available that help treat conditions like dermatitis or gastrointestinal problems. These include essential fatty acids and digestive enzymes and supplements.
Essential Fatty Acids
Veterinarians often prescribe fish oil supplements containing essential fatty acids (EFAs) for dogs and cats with allergic dermatitis, dry skin and dull hair (after ruling out underlying conditions).
Recent research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to numerous health conditions in pets, including cardiovascular disease, food allergies, dermatitis, kidney disease, arthritis and autoimmune disorders.
If your cat food contains only the minimum daily requirement of EFAs, you may need to add an EFA supplement for optimal health. Check with your vet to see if it's warranted.
Digestive Enzymes And Supplements
If your cat suffers from chronic gastrointestinal upset or weight loss, she might find some benefit from one or both types of digestive supplements: probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain live microorganisms that beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance. For example, probiotic supplements like Purina's FortiFlora(r) are recommended for the dietary management of cats with diarrhea.
Veterinarians are increasingly recommending digestive enzyme supplements for bowel disease, digestive irregularities, chronic diarrhea, and other digestive...
How Much Should I Feed My Cat?
If you're a first-time cat owner, "How much should I feed my cat?" is likely to be one of your first questions when you bring her home. Even if you've owned cats for years, you may sometimes wonder whether your cats are getting too little food or too much.
Feeding your cat isn't rocket science, but it is based on many variables, including the cat's weight and age, whether you're feeding wet or dry food, the cat's activity level, and whether or not she is pregnant or nursing.
The brand of food you're feeding also makes a difference. A dense, high quality dry cat food will contain more nutrients by weight than a low-quality food full of fillers, and thus require smaller portions to deliver the same amount of nutrition.
Many cat owners allow their cats free choice access to dry food, supplemented by canned food once or twice a day. A dry-food-only diet is not necessarily a bad pet diet if you're feeding high quality food, but it does require that you encourage your cat to drink a lot more water to compensate for what she's not getting in canned food.
When you bring a new cat home, it's important to continue to feed her the same amount of the same food on the same schedule that's she's been accustomed to, then gradually migrate to your own food and schedule. Cats are very sensitive to change, and a new cat will be dealing with a lot of new-environment stress, so keeping the food and schedule consistent will ease her transition and keep intestinal upset at bay.
When you're ready to transition your cat over to your own food and schedule, you'll need to determine what kind of food you'll be feeding her (wet, dry, raw, or a combo), and using the calorie counts in each, determine how much of which kind to feed her.
Cat Food Ingredients
The foundation of a healthy cat diet is flesh-based protein like meat, fish, or poultry. Dry food should be high in animal proteins, and low in plant proteins (which cats are ill-equipped to digest). Carbohydrates should make up no more than ten percent of the mix of cat food ingredients.
Wet foods should consist predominantly of meat with as few by-products and fillers as possible.
Corn, wheat and soy are popular cheap fillers, but they are also a major source of food allergies in cats. Avoid buying food where corn, wheat, and soy figure prominently in the top ingredients.
How Much To Feed Your Cat
According to the Animal Medical Center in New York, a healthy, active 8-lb adult cat requires about 30 calories per pound per day. So, the average 8-lb cat requires about 240 calories per day.
Typically, dry food contains about 300 calories per cup, and canned food contains about 250 calories in each 6 oz can. (or, 125 per 3 oz. can). Using these counts as a guide, an 8-lb. cat would need 4/5 of a cup of dry food and just under a full 6-oz can (or two 3-oz. cans) of wet food per day. You can adjust the proportions based on whether your cat prefers more or less dry or wet food.
How Much Water Should My Cat Drink Every Day?
Famed veterinarian and author James Harriot has noted that "cats are connoisseurs of comfort." When we think of comfort for our cats, items like soft beds and tasty treats come to mind. But we should also think about a clean full bowl of water. Hydration is an extremely important part of your cat's overall health. Exactly how much water should your cat drink every day? How can you make sure your feline is getting enough?
The amount of water consumption depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your cat, the time of year and whether your cat's diet includes canned (wet) food or dry food only. If cats are given dry food only, they will require significantly more supplemental water to stay acceptably hydrated. Normally, a cat will require 2-4 ounces of fresh water in addition to its food. Dry food is only 10 percent water, while canned is approximately 80 percent water. Obviously your cat is going to drink a lot more water if you are providing dry food only.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Getting Enough Water?
There are a few simple signs that will give you a pretty good indication of your cat is staying hydrated.
What Can I Do To Encourage My Cat To Drink More Water?
You can lead a cat to water, but can you make him drink? What should you do if you think your cat is not drinking enough? Water is essential to your cat's health and can even be instrumental in helping to prevent some severe health issues such as Feline Urological Syndrome. There are a few steps you can make to encourage kitty to stay hydrated:
It's very important to pay attention to your cat's "normal" water consumption and take note if that amount happens to change. Any significant increase or decrease in your cat's daily water intake could be a sign of illness. Drinking too much or too little water could be indicative of a urinary cystitis (bladder infection), tapeworm infestation, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. It's time for a trip to your local vet if you notice excessive changes in your cat's daily water intake.
Some Fast Facts Abo...