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Your Cat’s Unique Nutritional Needs

By Elizabeth Wasserman

Your Cat’s Unique Nutritional Needs

Cat foods are currently available in a variety of specialized formulas. There are foods for sensitive stomachs, hairball issues and overweight cats; for adult cats and kittens; and for “multi-cat” households. This means that pet owners can now easily find foods that meet the nutritional needs of most cats.

“The number of foods that are available now is astronomical,” says Lori Jacobs, a Los Angeles-area mother whose family has five cats. Customized cat foods help Jacobs control one of her cats’ digestive problems -- and may benefit your cats too.

A Checklist for Nutritional Needs
To determine which cat food to feed your pet, experts say you should talk to your cat’s veterinarian and consider the following:

  • Age Older cats tend to burn fewer calories than kittens and normal adult cats. Therefore, nutritional needs differ based on age, says Dr. Katy J. Nelson, an emergency veterinarian in Alexandria, Va., who has worked on pet nutrition issues. In general, cats can be divided into the following age groups: kittens (0 to 12 months old), adult cats (1 to 6 years old) and senior cats (7 years and older).
  • Weight Obesity in cats can become a systemic inflammatory disease and contribute to other problems like joint disease, a higher risk of cancer, and gastrointestinal problems, says Nelson. To determine whether your cat is overweight, try to feel its ribs, says Bonnie Beaver, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and a veterinary professor at Texas A&M University. If you have to push through too much fat and cannot feel the ribs easily, your cat is likely overweight. Foods for overweight cats often contain L-carnitine, a nutrient that helps the body turn fat into energy.
  • Activity level and size “There is a huge difference between a 15-pound tomcat and a dainty indoor cat or a strictly couch potato kitty in terms of energy output,” says Nelson. You want a food that promotes good digestion and properly energizes your pet.
  • Multi-cat households Having several cats under one roof can be a challenge in terms of meeting individual pet needs. For multi-cat owners, there are specialized foods that can meet the needs of cats of various ages and activity levels that are fed at one time.
  • Pregnant/nursing/neutered cats Cats that are pregnant or nursing may need a higher caloric intake than normal adult cats. Cats that have been spayed or neutered have lower energy requirements and metabolic needs. “Maintaining those sex organs takes a lot of the body’s energy and slows down a whole lot of processes,” Nelson explains.
  • Unique issues A healthy digestive system may be better maintained by feeding your cat food containing prebiotics, specialized fibers that stimulate the growth of “good” bacteria in your cat’s gut. Some foods contain ingredients that reduce tartar buildup and help your kitty maintain healthier teeth. Others help alleviate dry, flaky skin through essential fatty acids, such as the omega-3 and omega-6 fats found in sources like chicken, fish oil and eggs. For preventing joint and mobility issues, there are foods containing glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and fish oil.

More on cat food from our sponsor

Elizabeth Wassermana Washington, D.C., area-based freelancer, has been writing about pets, among other topics, for more than 15 years. Her love of dogs, in particular, was handed down through the generations from her great-grandfather, Eric Knight, who wrote the book Lassie Come Home in the 1930s.


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Posted on June 8, 2012

Luis says: If you put that rat poison in the yard your dog will eat it it's like a cikooe is very sweet and taste good to them. You are handing your dog a death sentence Try using traps instead, such as glue traps for the old fashioned springer traps. And by the way if you do this and your dog ingests the poison and dies. You could be brought up on some serious charges because of premeditated animal cruelty because we've already warned you!So return the poison to the store and exchange it for the traps!

Posted on June 8, 2012

Febrianto says: I would say Eukanuba! My uncle trains ruecse/service dogs and that is what they use.It helps the dog keep healthy, it also helps them keep mentally on track, and there coats are very shinny! But yeah I would try the Eukanuba for puppies. My puppy doesn't like the taste of Iams but she likes Eukanuba and my other dog doesn't like anything but the Science Diet stuff. All dogs are different. So I would choose one that is good for the puppy (one that is made for puppies) But only get a small bag to begin with because, if the dog wont eat it then you will have a huge bag of food and nothing to do with it. But try Eukanuba first, if it doesn't like that, try the Science Diet brand, and so on.

Posted on May 17, 2011

TDC Editor says: Hi Maritza, We appreciate your comment and would like to help. Iams is a sponsor of our independent editorial content, so we can't give you a coupon. However, I can direct you to this page on their website for a mail-in rebate: http://www.iams.com/cat-food/ProductFamilyIndex.aspx Good luck with all of your pets!

Posted on May 12, 2011

Maritza says: I have 10 rescue cats and 4 dogs, i also just got divorced after 31 years and am having a hard time money wise .I have all of the cats on indoor ,weigth control from Iams and they are all triving. they are all fixed and indoor cats.Could you help me maybe with some coupons? Me and the animals could really use your help. Thank you Maritza Andrews

Posted on November 14, 2010

Jeremy says:

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