Cats are easy in that you can buy them food from the pet aisle in the center of your supermarket (hey, that bag over there is buy one get one this week!) and that’s the end of it. Except that it’s not. Cats are animals, but even animals require proper nutrition. Your body won’t function correctly when it’s malnourished and underfed, and it’s not going to leave you feeling like a million bucks if you’re eating nothing but Oreo cookies all day long (and I do love an Oreo cookie). The reason is that you need a number of nutrients that simply – and sadly – are not found in Oreo cookies. You need a variety of foods that contain the nutrients your body requires to function properly and well, and that’s not something you get by only purchasing the cheapest, most accessible foods on the shelf. The same goes for your cat.
Before you berate yourself for not thinking to provide your feline friend with more adequate nutrition, however, rest assured that many pet owners fail to consider this. And it’s all right as long as you commit to making a healthy change in the life of your pet from this point forward. Now that you are aware of the fact that your cat’s nutrition is a bit more important than just remembering to pour food in a bowl (though that is also quite helpful) it’s time to reevaluate what it is you are feeding your cat and learn how to find the right nutrients and the right food for your cat.
How to Understand Differences
This is the most complicated part of the process. There is no shortage of high quality cat food available for your feline friend, but that does not mean that your cat can just have any of it. The first thing you need to do is check to see what it is in each item. Learning to read the labels is going to be a bit more work than you consider, since it’s going to require a bit of research. Not all foods are made for all cat breeds, and it’s just because each breed does have its own unique and individual health requirements. Additionally, all cats have their own unique requirements that are directly related to their health. That leads us to the next step.
Talk to Your Vet
The most important thing you can do when choosing the right kind of cat food for your pet is talk to his or her vet. This is the person who is well-versed in all things cat food related and can help you make the right decision as far as what to feed your cat. Additionally, your vet can also help you learn to distinguish the difference between foods that are readily available and marketed for your cat’s needs. Your vet will take into account any health concerns your cat might have and recommend food designed to work well with your cat’s particular issues. It’s all about that professional opinion.
Choose the Food
Now that you know what your cat needs and you have an opinion from your vet, it’s time to choose the food. You might choose to use one your vet gives you as a sample to see how well it affects your cat. some cats will love it and take to it right away, and some might not care for it much or their systems might not care for it much and you’ll notice changes.
Watch Your Cat’s Behavior
Your cat will begin eating whatever you give it, but you have to watch for very specific things. Your cat’s stool, temperament and behavior may or may not change with the beginning of a new diet. If you notice significant changes and your cat seems less like him or herself than ever before, perhaps it is time for you to contact your vet and discuss your concerns. Your vet might be able to recommend some differences, some changes and some tweaks you can make to the cat’s diet to help your cat become a little bit healthier. He might even suggest you completely change the food.
Stick to One Food
What’s important is that you stick to one thing. It’s not always a good idea to get your cat whatever is on sale or whatever you can find. Cats with significant dietary changes can become sick and you might realize that after your cat makes the decision to forgo the litter box the next time it’s not feeling well. It’s better to stick with one item and one brand unless your vet tells you to change.
What it comes down to at the end of the day is what your cat seems to respond to in the healthiest manner. Your cat should be happy, active, and well-rested with its food and that’s what’s going to make it possible for you to feel confident in what you are feeding your cat.
But Keep in Mind
Your cat’s food is good for him or her, but you should always watch for changes in your cat. it might not be anything food related, but if your cat begins to suffer from any sort of health issues, his diet might require a change. It’s important to keep an eye on your cat and visit the vet anytime you feel that your cat is not responding as it should to its food or not feeling well as a whole. If you notice changes like this, it’s a good possibility that there is something wrong with your cat that the vet needs to diagnose. This might require a dietary change yet again to help regulate any health issues your cat experiences. The moral of the story is that you can’t just find a food and rely on it forever when it comes to your cat. Rely on your knowledge of your cat’s behavior and your understanding of your feline friend, and make it a priority to maintain frequent contact with your vet.
Photo by Jason Bahr/Getty Images for Purina Cat Chow