How does nutrition impact the health and well-being of my cat?

Proper nutrition is crucial in cats because they have particular nutritional requirements that are different sometimes from dogs. They're obligate carnivores, so they have special needs. And so you have to make sure that you meet those. And you also have to consider their prey and their hunting drive.

Dr. Kimberly Young
Countryside Veterinary Clinic

What are the nutritional requirements for a cat?

Cats need about a cup of water per day for an average 10-pound cat. Protein is essential for them. Make sure their food has vitamins such as taurine and arginine. They need a higher fat and a higher protein diet than dogs, and most commercial diets provide that.

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

Kittens need higher amounts of fat and protein and their ratio of calories compared to adult cats and senior cats. Senior cats tend to require lower magnesium and calcium, and phosphorus quantities as they get older, but they still need high-quality protein. So there are some requirement differences as they do age.

What are some signs and symptoms of poor cat nutrition?

Cats can have a poor coat or a dull hair coat. They can be failing to groom themselves. They can have loose stools and be very gassy all the time. They can be vomiting. It could mean the food doesn't agree with them. If they're not thriving or failing to gain weight, that can indicate that they're not getting the appropriate nutrition from the diet.

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

Food allergies are pretty uncommon in cats. It's usually more of an immune-mediated problem. If they do have a food allergy, they're going to be very itchy all the time—24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It doesn't come and go, especially around their head and their face. They can be extremely itchy all the time. The most common allergens for cats would be beef, chicken, corn, wheat, and fish. But again, it's not a very common thing that we see.

When it comes to cat food, what and how much should I be feeding them?

My general recommendation for adult cats (if they don't have any other health issues) would be about half a cup of dry food per day with most dry foods. You can adjust the amount depending on their weight. Cats should get about two five-ounce (tuna-sized) cans a day and four of the small three-ounce cans a day if you're just feeding canned food. Fresh things you can supplement would be tuna and salmon, although you don't need to do that if they're on high-quality food. Most cats need about 22 calories per pound per day for maintenance.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (410) 461-2400, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Nutrition - FAQs

Dr. Kimberly Young
Countryside Veterinary Clinic

What kind of food is best to give a kitten, an adult, and a senior cat?

Kittens should get food labeled for kittens. They're going to have higher amounts of fat and protein compared to regular adult foods, which they need. Adult cats should get food labeled for adult cats, depending on their age. Sometimes they have ones for younger cats versus older cats. Some cats need an indoor formula because they're not very active, but you want something explicitly labeled for an adult cat and an indoor cat if that's what they are. Senior cats need a senior diet, as they’re going to require fair amounts of protein and fat, but a little bit less than a kitten and our adult food. Senior cat food will also have less magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, and other things that can cause some problems in older cats, and we want to maintain their lean muscle mass as they get older. You always want to make sure you're feeding a food explicitly labeled for your cat's age.

What supplements should I give my cat?

If you're feeding them high-quality food, you don't need to give them any supplements. The manufacturers make the foods to contain all the nutrients and everything that they do need. Sometimes, however, they might need a fatty acid supplement or omega fatty acids with certain medical conditions, but that's more for allergy problems. Otherwise, you shouldn't need to supplement your cat’s diet with anything other than their food.

How can I ensure my cat's getting a balanced diet?

Feeding a commercial cat food diet is going to be the best way to ensure a balanced diet. Home-cooked diets don't always have all the essential nutrients that cats need, such as taurine, which they don't make on their own. Feeding a commercial cat food that's made by a reputable company and providing food for the appropriate life stage are the best ways to assure your cat is getting a balanced diet.

Is dry food, wet food, or a combination of both best for cats?

There are different thoughts on that, and, honestly, it's whatever is easier for you to feed and what the cat's preference is. Some cats never touch canned food, while other cats like it. It's a matter of what you want to feed them and what they do best with as far as if they have any vomiting, diarrhea, or other issues with certain types of foods. With dental tartar, some cats do well with any kind of food. It's a matter of personal preference. The biggest thing is making sure that you are feeding a high-quality diet.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (410) 461-2400, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.