Many years ago a vet colleague and friend shared the pearl of wisdom that “cats are not small dogs”! Those of you who have been following our blogs will have noticed a predominantly canine theme, but fear not we at whole also love moggies in all their shapes and sizes.
So when it comes to feeding your furry felines, here are some key things to consider in order to ensure they remain in tip-top condition and are feline on top of the world (sorry - that’s the last pun I promise).
The first point is that cats are obligate carnivores - this means that they require a high meat content in their diet in order to ensure they receive the full complement of essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), and they break protein down quicker than dogs hence require a higher protein percentage in their diet. Their digestive tract is shorter which means they don’t easily digest and absorb plant-based nutrients, again causing the need for high meat inclusion in their food.
Secondly, they are unable to make some amino acids - taurine, which is required for healthy heart, eye and bile function as well as reproductive health in female cats and mainly found in meat, poultry and shellfish as well as arginine which is vital for healthy metabolism; the fatty acid arachidonic acid is also needed by cats as they are unable to make it in sufficient quantities without dietary intake. These are referred to as essential amino and essential fatty acids, and a healthy cat diet must have at least adequate levels, although prefer to include the optimum amounts from digestible sources.
Another key consideration in cats is urinary health, with bladder problems collectively falling under the description FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease), a common reason for cats to need veterinary assistance. In most cases there are multiple factors involved, the main requirements to maintain healthy bladders being access to plentiful fresh water (even if some cats seem to prefer sources including toilets, showers, ponds and water fountains), feeding a high quality diet which doesn’t contribute excess minerals or salt to their urine and potentially providing omega 3 fatty acids which can help to reduce the production of inflammatory mediators.
From a practical standpoint, feline vets recommend having multiple water bowls/fountains available to cats with plenty of separation between the drinking stations and litter trays. Ideally there should be at least n+1 litter trays in a home (where n = the number of cats) and these should be located where cats have a sense of privacy. Stress appears to be a leading factor in FLUTD so these tips can help reduce such concerns.
From a sensory perspective, cats are excellent at spotting fresh vs stale food, and will actively avoid the latter (it’s why we use 2kg bags with easy seal openings for our Grain Free for Cats range). They tend to be selective about the mouth feel of their food hence our kibble is designed to meet their approval. Domestic cats will mimic their wild counterparts in terms of eating habits, typically eating anything up to 20 times per day (just as wild cats will hunt and eat multiple small mammals/birds), they are usually quite efficient in self-managing their consumption although this can be compromised after neutering.
Maintaining a healthy weight is best achieved with a quality food containing adequate protein to give cats a sense of satiety (fullness), and by ensuring they are given the right amount of food per day as per the feeding guidelines of the product you choose. Activity is important so indoor cats will benefit from climbing frames or other means of being active, lots of cat owners enjoy playing with toys which mimic hunting behaviour (although it is best to give them a few kibbles afterwards as they seldom hunt unsuccessfully and can become stressed if a “capture” doesn’t yield some calories!).
Make sure you check out our tasty options for your cat(s)…