Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FELINE NUTRITION AND OBESITY


By Erin St. Charles, LVT 

Cats are strict carnivores and in their natural environment get nutrients from their prey animal's tissues.  This results in a high protein, moderate fat and low carb diet.  Vitamins, minerals and water round out the diet of our feline companions.  Commercially made foods that meet AAFCO standards and have had feeding trial studies done are considered complete or balanced diets and contain the proper levels of each nutrient requirement.
      ·         PROTEINS:
Provide the building blocks of tissues through amino acids. Amino acids are manufactured by the cat and also come from meat and by-product meal.
·         FATS:
Supply energy, essential fatty acids and promote absorption of fat- soluble vitamins Provide palatability Contribute to healthy skin and hair coat.
·         CARBS:
       Provide energy.
·         VITAMINS:
Necessary for chemical reactions in the body and needs fat to be absorbed ( can't convert   vitamins from vegetables) Cats make their own Vit C, and require more Vit B than most species  If you are feeding a complete and balanced commercial diet, supplementation is not needed.
·         MINERALS:
Necessary for structural building and chemical reactions. If you are feeding a complete and balanced diet, supplementation is not needed.
·         WATER:
                    Most important nutrient.
Clean and fresh water should be available at all times. You can also feed canned food that has 75% water content. Adding water to dry food can also increase water intake. 

PROPER FEEDING:
It is best to choose a complete and balanced diet that matches your cat's life stage and activity level.  Recommendations for feeding amounts are typically on the food bag.  Be aware that these amounts may need to be adjusted to each individual cat but it is good place to start.   

COMMON FEEDING ISSUES:
·         Raw diets while high in proteins, increases the risk of parasites, pathogenic bacteria and     nutrient deficiencies which can cause severe medical issues.
·         Milk can be difficult for some cats to digest and can lead to diarrhea.
·         Homemade diets can be difficult to balance and can lead to nutritional deficiencies, over supplementation and possibly cause severe medical issues.  It is best to contact a veterinarian or animal nutritionist to be sure a homemade diet is balanced and appropriate.
·         Over feeding leads to obesity. 

FELINE OBESITY:
Obesity in cats can lead to many health issues such as:
·         Liver disease
·         Heart disease
·         Kidney disease
·         Respiratory problems
·         Constipation
·         Diabetes
·         Arthritis 

PREVENTION AND TREATMENT:
  • Measuring food
  • Feed on a set schedule
  • Limited treats and no table scraps
  • Exercise- areas for climbing, laser lights, regular playtime, feeders that dispense food while cat plays with it
  • light formula or prescription weight loss food. 

       **Hill's makes a variety of prescription weight loss foods for cats.

-Metabolic has added antioxidants and is formulated for an efficient metabolism
 -r/d is low in fat and high in fiber for a low calorie food
 -w/d is a low calorie, low fat food with added antioxidants and is good for diabetics
 -m/d is a low carb, high protein food with added antioxidants.

For more information on weight loss go to Hill's Prescription Diets