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Animal Care Library

Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems. Use our Animal Care Library for quick, easy access to our most common animal care problems.

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Balanced diet Species: cats       Categories: nutrition, diet

Your cat has specific nutritional requirements and depends on you to provide a complete and balanced diet for a long and healthy life. Cats have different nutritional requirements to dogs and should not be fed dog food.

What are the key nutrients in a diet?

The key nutrients in a diet are fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and these must be present in the correct amounts and proportions for a diet to be nutritionally complete and balanced.

Why are cats different to dogs?

Cats are strict carnivores and require food of an animal origin to survive. Cats are unique in that they need specific nutrients which they cannot manufacture in their body, unlike dogs, and are not present in foods of plant origin. These essential nutrients found in animal tissues must be supplied in the cat's diet and include vitamin A, taurine and certain fatty acids.

However, meat alone does not supply all these essential nutrients and cats cannot survive on an all-meat diet. In the wild the cat would consume its entire kill, including bones, organs, tendons, skin and muscle to provide the correct balance of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Meat is low in vitamins and also has an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus, which can affect bone growth. Cats also require a higher level of protein and fat in their diet than dogs and a lower level of carbohydrates. From this you can see that dog food is not a suitable diet for your cat.

Which food should I choose?

Nutritional requirements of cats change according to their age, level of acvtivity, reproductive status and health. Premium pet foods made from high quality ingredients are designed to consistently provide a complete and balanced diet for all life stages of your cat. They are available in dry or canned (wet) forms and being complete mean that supplements are not required. Home-prepared diets require special care to be well balanced and are best designed in conjunction with your vet's advice.

How much should I feed my cat?

Animals will usually eat enough to satisfy their energy needs. Use the recommendations on the product label as a giudeline to ensure you are not under or over-feeding your cat. Kittens less than three months of age should be fed four times a day, then gradually reduce the feeds to twice a day by twelve months of age. Adult cats are usually fed morning and night while some like to have lunchtime feed as well. Cats have a relatively small stomach and naturally prefer smaller meals more often. Some cats are prone to obesity and you may need to reduce their intake or change the type of food you are using to a light formula or one designed specifically for weight loss. Don't forget your cat needs exercise too and plenty of fresh water.

Tips for feeding cats

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