As a cat parent, you love your feline family member more than anything and you want to ensure that she enjoys a long, healthy, and happy life. One of the best ways to do that is by feeding her a healthy, well-balanced diet that meets her nutritional needs.
Felines – like all animals – have specific dietary needs. If you want your kitty to be as healthy as possible, meeting those needs is essential. The old adage “you are what you eat” really rings true when it comes to your furry friend’s health and well-being. If you’re feeding her a poor-quality diet that’s comprised of unhealthy ingredients, than she simply isn’t going to get the vital nutrition that she needs to thrive. Furthermore, felines tend to be picky about what they eat; if your kitty doesn’t like the taste or texture of her food, she may end up turning up her nose to her food bowl. It might seem ridiculous, but many cats would rather go hungry than eat something that doesn’t please their palate.
Why Diet is Important for Cats
Food nourishes the body; it fuels energy levels, strengthens cells, encourages muscle growth, promotes joint health… It even helps to encourage a thick, lustrous coat and can affect disposition! The bottom line: proper nourishment is essential for a cat’s overall health. If your kitty isn’t eating right, her physical and mental health could suffer.
A poor diet can lead to a number of complications, including:
- Excessive weight loss
- Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)
- Liver and kidney problems
- Heart disease
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Muscle loss
- Changes in mood
- Dental health problems
These are just some of the ways poor nutrition can impact your cat. Obviously, you don’t want your feline family member to suffer from any of these issues (just thinking about your cat suffering is horrifying!) So, how can you help to ensure your cat is getting the vital nutrition she needs? – By improving her diet!
Improving your kitty’s diet is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Here’s a look at five simple ways you can improve your furry family member’s diet.
1. Offer Cooked Meats.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to thrive. Wild cats are hunters that prey on various types of animals; their diets consist mainly of meat. Generally, the only plant-based foods they eat come from the animals that they consume.
Since domesticated cats are so closely related to their predatory ancestors, it’s important that you feed your cat a diet that mimics what wild cats would eat; in other words, meat should be the main ingredient in her diet.
You can improve your kitty’s health by offering her steamed or lightly cooked meats; tuna, sardines, lean cuts of chicken and beef, lamb, veal, duck, etc. Steaming or lightly cooking the meat is important. Why? – Because overcooking reduces the nutritional content of meat; it alters the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that meat contains. If you are feeding your kitty manufactured cat food, even if it contains quality protein sources, supplement with meat. The meat featured in manufactured cat food is usually overcooked; offering her lightly cooked or steamed animal protein will help to ensure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
2. Mix in Some Fruits and Veggies
Though cats are obligate carnivores and they only eat minimal amounts of plant-based foods in the wild, scientific studies have confirmed that felines can, in fact, benefit from fruits and veggies.
Plant-based foods contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can be extremely beneficial for cats. Therefore, offering your kitty fruits and veggies can certainly improve her overall health and well-being. It’s important to select plant products that are safe for cats, as some may are hazardous to their health. Animal nutritionists recommend the following fruits and vegetables:
- Green beans
- Apples (remember to peel and de-seed!)
- Melons (no rind and no seeds!)
Lightly steam or puree fruits and veggies to make them more appealing and easier to eat.
3. Eggs are Eggcellent for Felines
Eggs are just as healthy for felines as they are for humans! They’re rich in protein, one of the most crucial nutrients that cats need to sustain their health. Eggs are also chock-full of B vitamins, which offer numerous benefits. B vitamins help to improve skin health, boost the production of red blood cells, aid in the synthesis of protein and nucleic acids, and assist with the formation of cell membranes (among other things).
When offering your cat eggs, just make sure you cook them first; raw eggs can lead to food borne illnesses. Scrambled, hard boiled, over hard (as opposed to over easy) are all examples of ways you can cook your kitty’s eggs.
4. Add Probiotics to Her Diet
Holistic vets and animal nutritionists recommend offering felines probiotics. The reason? – They help to boost the amount of digestive and systemic enzymes a cat receives. Probiotics are live bacteria that live within the digest tract. They’re often referred to as “friendly bacteria” because they play an important role in digestion. Not only do they improve digestion, but they also aid in the absorption of key nutrients. Probiotics can also strengthen the immune system.
Offer your kitty probiotics that are specially formulated for cats. Ask your vet for recommendations to ensure you are choosing an option that will deliver optimal benefits.
5. Add Fatty Acids to the Mix
Lastly, adding fatty acids to your furry friend’s diet can significantly improve her health. Fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats) are health fats. They play several important functions in a cat’s overall health. They have been proven to strengthen and enhance the performance of the cardiovascular system, prevent inflammatory diseases, improve skin and coat health, off-set kidney degradation, stave off certain types of cancers, and even improve the function of immune system.
You can improve fatty acid intake by offering foods that are rich in these essential nutrients (cold water fish, like salmon, mackerel, and herring), or by mixing flaxseed, soy, or walnut oils into her food. You can also purchase fatty acid supplements; just make sure you’re choosing a high-quality supplement.