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Vitamins can often do more harm than good, especially as quality commercial cat foods provide the correct balance of vitamins, nutrients and calories. Check with your veterinarian before considering supplements.

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How Veterinary Formula Cat Foods Work

By Jennifer Viegas

How Veterinary Formula Cat Foods Work

Doctors and veterinarians alike could soon advise, “Take two bites and call me in the morning.” Recent scientific discoveries concerning the importance of nutrition to health has led manufacturers to develop new lines of foods targeting specific conditions. Your cat could be among the first to benefit, since therapeutic diets prescribed through licensed veterinarians are now available for your pet.

A Four-step Process
Dayton, Ohio-based veterinarian Amy Dicke, DVM, has been a member of such cat food development teams. She indicates the new foods are part of a four-step process:

  1. Your veterinarian examines your cat and makes a diagnosis.
  1. A medical management plan including one or more of the new foods is established.
  1. Your veterinarian monitors how your cat is doing on the prescribed regimen.
  1. The proposed therapy concludes when your cat’s condition improves.

Targeted Conditions
Commercial cat foods available in pet food stores and other retail outlets already allow you to purchase products meant for cats with certain health considerations, including age or breed. The new foods take this concept to a more focused and concentrated level, with ingredients that home in on the health issues and work to correct the problems. Dr. Dicke explains how the new therapeutic foods can alleviate common cat health concerns.

Allergy, skin and coat conditions
The most common clinical sign is intense scratching, especially around the head and neck area. Your veterinarian can determine the type of irritant -- often food allergies -- causing the problem.

Veterinary formula food may contain
: hydrolyzed protein, which is protein broken down into small components that are not recognized as allergens in food-sensitive cats. The diet may also contain a balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Essential for normal skin structure and function, these fatty acids reduce the inflammation usually accompanying allergic skin disorders.

Intestinal health Inflammation of your cat’s pancreas, known as pancreatitis, as well as disorders of the large and small bowels fall under this category.

Veterinary formula food may contain
: low fat levels to reduce the digestive workload. The diet may also include omega-3 fatty acids to help control inflammation, in addition to highly digestible ingredients for enhanced nutrient absorption. Specialized fiber blends also in the food help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Urinary conditions
One of the most common, and potentially serious, conditions is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), with over twenty different causes. These include bacterial and viral infectious agents, tumors, excess mucus and stones or crystals forming in the urinary tract.

Veterinary formula food may contain
: controlled magnesium levels and ingredients that help your cat produce more acidic urine. Omega-3 fatty acids can also assist in the reduction of inflammation at the cellular level.

Kidney conditions
This is usually a chronic, progressive condition often affecting older cats.

Veterinary formula food may contain
: a nitrogen-trapping system, which is a unique fiber system that reduces reliance on the kidneys and allows for feeding of moderate protein levels. High-quality protein is therefore also included in the mix to help your cat maintain lean muscle mass and good immune system function. Once again, added omega-3 fatty acids come to the rescue, as they can also help increase the kidney’s filtration rate.

Weight loss
An estimated 25 to 40 percent of cats are overweight, but too often, owners don’t recognize this as a danger to their cat’s health. Weight loss formulas are popular in dry and wet diets, but therapeutic weight loss diets feature greater reduction in kilocalories and fat compared to over-the-counter formulas.

Veterinary formula food may contain
: L-carnitine, a vitamin-like compound that helps turn fat into energy. Losing weight can mean losing fat and muscle, but L-carnitine helps overweight cats maintain muscle and lose fat. Weight loss diets may also feature enhanced levels of vitamin A to reduce weight regain.

A Lifestyle Approach to Health
You can’t control some aspects of your cat’s life, such as age and genetics, but why not focus on those you can change? In fact, for conditions like weight gain that lead to other issues, diet alone is the long-term solution.

“Therapeutic formulas are more expensive than nutrition targeting the healthy cat, but their expense is worth it if it keeps the pet ailment-free,” says Dr. Dicke. Plus, it’s hard to put a price on peace of mind, not to mention the overall health of your cat.

Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.


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Posted on June 8, 2012

Valery says: I've had a cat for about 3 years and her name is Jeepster. a few months back I was corennced because she was gaining an unusual amount of weight. I tried not feeding her as much but it continued. I was worried because I went on vacation and when I got back not only was Jeepster sleeping a lot but somebody broke into my house and dropped off a whole bunch of small cats. I don't know whats wrong with her or what to do now.

Posted on February 6, 2010

Kelly Hern says: I have an 18yo with renal failure who is otherwise healthy. The only special food I found was something she disliked. What foods are out there for her? Thank you for your assistance.

Posted on September 29, 2009

Doris says: My 1 yr old cat weighs 9 lbs and eats 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups dry food a day plus 1/5 th can wet food. She has "fat pads". What am I doing wrong??

Posted on September 30, 2009

Sharon says: Hi, My 12 year old cat got out of my apartment yesterday, he is unfamiliar with the new neighborhood, but my old apartment is not far away, do you think he will find his way back to his old home?

Posted on June 9, 2012

ECTC101@GMAIL.COM says: We have a 15yr old Maine Coon/diagnosed w/ urinary problems/ cleared up! ?? does this cat have to be on a special vet diet food for life?? Can we go back to any expensive store bought variety?? Tks, Steve

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