Feeding felines

Feline pet owners take pride in
caring for their cat. However, what many think are nutritious food options
might not be the best choice for their furry friend. It’s often difficult to
separate fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition for your cat.

An overwhelming 94 per cent of
American cat owners are confident they feed their felines the most nutritious
meals possible, according to a recent Pet Parent Purrception Survey.
Nevertheless, many pet owners (48 per cent) admit they feed their cats table
scraps – which do not provide the essential nutrients cats need – and more than
a quarter (26 per cent) have never taken their beloved feline to the veterinarian
for annual checkups.

Some of the common feline
nutrition misperceptions found in the survey are:

* Nearly half the respondents
reported they were indulging their furry loved ones with food from the dinner
table. The problem is, root vegetables, green tomatoes and raw potatoes are
nutritious for humans, but aren’t necessarily healthy choices for cats,
according to www.vetpetmd.com.

* A little-known fact is that
giving your cat milk may not be a healthy practice due to the common incidence
of lactose intolerance in many adult cats. Allowing your cat to drink milk or
lick the melted ice cream out of your bowl can cause your cat digestive problems.
Only kittens need a mother’s milk, which has the nutrients and antibodies they
need to grow strong and healthy, according to Emerson Animal Hospital in Waco,

* Almost a quarter of respondents
thought giving a cat a purely vegetarian diet is nutritious, when in fact it
can be harmful, according a study titled “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs
and Cats,” from The National Academies Press. Cats can survive on a
vegetarian diet, but they aren’t able to process carbohydrates the way humans
do and vegetarian diets can fail to provide cats with enough amino acids to
keep them healthy, according to veterinarian Marla McGeorge, a cat specialist
at Best Friends Veterinary Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.

Here are some tips for selecting
healthy food options for cats:

1. Choose quality food and read
labels. Your cat’s food should provide a complete and balanced supply of nutrients.
Remember, different cats have different needs. If your cat is older, select a
formula for mature cats. If he needs help with his skin and coat, select a food
developed with ingredients to help these problem areas.

2. Create a comfort zone.
Promote healthy eating by giving your cat a quiet, clean place to eat. If you
also have a dog, make sure your cat isn’t eating Fido’s food. Dog food is developed
for dogs’ nutritional needs and your cat has his own unique requirements for protein,
taurine, niacin, vitamin A and fatty acids.

3. Go easy on the treats. Though
nutritious cat treats are OK from time to time, use them sparingly as a reward
for good behaviour or a training tool.