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Cat Nutrition - Information For Optimal Wellness


How does nutrition impact the health and wellbeing of my cat?

Great question. Nutrition is really important, especially because it's what your animal gets every single day. They don't switch it up like we have different meals, so it's important that we make sure that we have a good food that is not going to be deficient in some nutrients. Also, it's important that we feed the right food that doesn't predispose your animal to becoming obese, because a lot of the medical conditions that I see in cats are definitely a lot more severe if they're overweight.



Dr. Julie Mosher
Haines Road Animal Hospital

What are the nutritional requirements for a cat?

Nutritional requirements are very similar to what we have in humans as well—water, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Will my cat's nutritional requirements change throughout their life as a kitten, adult, and senior cat?

Yes, definitely. Those three different stages have a lot of different needs, as far as calories and carbohydrates and protein. If you’ve got a kitten, make sure to feed them kitten food. This is the same with senior cats, too. Chronic kidney disease can be a very common disease in older cats and it is important that we feed them a diet that has a little bit lower protein and some different electrolytes in there as well, just so we can make sure to extend their quality of life.

What are some signs and symptoms of poor cat nutrition in my pet?

I would say probably the most common one that I see would be obesity. Again, I mentioned earlier that that is just so important because obesity contributes to a lot of health problems. That would be one of the most common ones I see. Also though, you can see some inconsistent appetite, some skin disorders, which in cats it commonly presents as over-grooming. You can also see some weight fluctuations, some changes in stool, or really foul smelling stool might suggest that they're not digesting the food well enough. Then also some behavior changes as well.

What are some common food allergies in cats, and how can I tell my cat is suffering from them?

While food allergies aren't as common in cats, 80% of cats with food allergies are allergic to beef, dairy, or fish. I know owners are usually very surprised by the fish allergy. If your cat is suffering from allergies, we usually see some skin infections, over-grooming, and ear infections. It’s a good idea to chat with your veterinarian about how to best treat them.

Then last question, when it comes to cat food, what and how much should I be feeding them?

Your veterinarian can actually look at your cat's weight and their ideal weight based on their body condition score, and they can calculate the exact amount of calories that your cat should eat. I highly recommend communicating with your veterinarian for that number, especially because cats can't really increase their exercise as much. It is important to talk with your veterinarian to figure out how many cups or cans by that amount of calories per day. Also, it is important to always incorporate some canned food as well, just because cats aren't as effective at drinking as dogs are. Canned food often sneak that water in to help maintain the cat's hydration status.

If you still have questions and would like to reach out to us, call us directly at (727) 351-8478, email us, or reach out on Facebook, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible!

Cat Nutrition - FAQs



Dr. Julie Mosher
Haines Road Animal Hospital

How do I know what foods are toxic to cats?

It's challenging. There's a longer list than most clients realize. I would recommend going on ASPCA's website, as they have an excellent toxin section. Look at different plants that you might have in your household that can be toxic to cats.

One of the big ones I can think of would be lilies, but garlic and some common spices can be toxic as well. Familiarize yourself with these foods and other items. You could perhaps even print out the list and put it on your fridge to ensure that you're not giving your kitty anything that's going to harm them.

Can I feed my cat human food?

I wouldn't recommend it. The reasons for that are that sometimes human food can be fatty and can actually cause harm to your cat. They can give them something called pancreatitis, which is inflammation of one of the digestive organs.

It can also predispose them to develop obesity, which is associated with a lot of health conditions in cats. Stick to kitty food, which is fine—I know that my cat is pleased with his kitty food.

How do I know if the food I'm giving my cat is making him sick?

I would monitor things like your cat's stool. If the nutrients are causing harm, the stool can be less solid and foul-smelling.

Also, if your cat's energy level decreases at all or if their coat does not look as beautiful as before you started that diet, it's a good idea to chat with your veterinarian about switching diets.

Can changing my cat's diet suddenly cause harm?

Yes, it can because cats get so used to eating one specific diet. I would recommend that you slowly transition the diet over one to two weeks to prevent any gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

How does an elimination diet work?

An elimination diet is a great thing to do if we're concerned about a food allergy in your cat. Sometimes food allergies in cats can present as over-grooming but chat with your veterinarian about that.

If you and/or your veterinarian suspect that your cat is allergic to the fish ingredient in their diet, you should slowly transition them to a different diet with a novel protein such as bison. Hopefully theirimmune system won't have an allergy to that.

We also have some prescription diets as well that are completely hypoallergenic. These diets can make the elimination diet a little bit easier.

How do I know if my cat has eaten something toxic to him?

That is hard because so many of the toxins can lead to different things. Still, I would recommend monitoring their appetite level, energy level, and take note of any vomiting or diarrhea. If you notice any of these things, take your cat to a veterinarian to see what's going on.

If you still have questions and would like to reach out to us, call us directly at (727) 351-8478, email us, or reach out on Facebook, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible!

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