Tips on Feeding Cats

Many owners make a decision early on whether their cat will be an indoor or outdoor cat or a combination of both. While outdoors , cats run the risk of exposure to ticks, the added risk of fighting with other cats, being hit by a vehicle and getting trapped in a sewer, guttering or other man made structures. Indoor cats face fewer of these risks but are more liable to other health issues , mostly related to insufficient exercise and the risk of obesity. A good interactive environment is as essential for indoor cats as is a good diet. 

Unlike dogs who can eat a wide range of food , cats are obligate carnivores. They NEED meat . This means that all cats or shall we say all felines , small and large need meat to survive and thrive. Cat food must have high quality animal protein. This primary ingredient is key for all cats but especially vital for cats who live indoors. A good cat food also contains essential carbohydrates , carbohydrates that come from vegetables and other non grain sources.  A low carbohydrate diet is a key way to keep your indoor or outdoor cat happy, fit, and healthy.

Dry Food vs Tinned Food or Fresh Food

There is no doubt that fresh home cooked food is the best possible option for cats, however, unless this food is cooked to a well balanced formula essential nutrients may be missed . Too much protein or unsuitable carbohydrates may cause obesity , diabetes, joint pains, issues with skin, teeth as well as urinary tract infections.

Canned foods are good for cats when bought from a quality producer. They provide the essential nutrients and moisture a cat needs. There are a large number of meat options available ranging from duck, fish, chicken, turkey, lamb which combined with a grain free offering are highly recommended 

Many vets recommend good quality dry food especially for cats. This allows that cat to have a balanced meal and is especially good for dental and bone health. Pet owners however must limit the quantities of dry food as unlimited quantities can cause obesity in cats. Low fat content in dry food also contains hair balls, improves digestion and ensures lean muscle

Why do cats stop grooming themselves ?

Cats are naturally vain and fastidious creatures. Like their majestic ancestors, cats look regal and well groomed all the time. However, there will be times when a cat will stop grooming itself. Signs of this will include smell from uncleaned face after eating, a lack luster coat, knots and increased shedding. The causes may be varied and may range from stress , loss of a mate , old age , change of habitat or lifestyle, obesity and illness. A visit to the vet should be the first and not last option. Once a medical solution has been found and the cause treated, the cat may start taking pride in her or his appearance once again. It is always helpful to give them a little bit of support and help by doing some grooming at home. Brushing and removal of knots if the cat is comfortable and allows it is a good start. Older cats may develop arthritis or become obese which makes it hard for them to groom effectively or to reach certain areas. The sheer act of grooming may exhaust them and they may decide to abandon their grooming regime. They may not welcome aggressive or constant grooming , so it may be a good idea to do a little bit when the cat allows it or accepts the help. My own Snow gets horribly stressed when I take my annual two week holiday abroad. I return to find huge knots in her otherwise meticulous fur. Some help with grooming and cutting one or two a day, which she grudgingly allows means that she will return to her immaculate self in a few weeks.

Most common cat illnesses and what to do about them – Sarah Palen Smith

Cats are creatures of habit. They also are prone to a handful of specific illnesses, all with clear and distinctive symptoms. Knowing what is troubling them will help you decide on the right course of action or treatment to get them healthy again. You can save your cat a lot of discomfort by preventing problems before they attack or occur, from viruses to worms. 
Some symptoms and diseases to watch out for:

Upper respiratory infections (URIs) are one of the most common. Bacteria and viruses invade a cat’s nose , throat and sinuses ( not very different from human beings). In multi cat homes or shelters or in outdoor cats viruses are passed through shared dishes or shared water and food or sneezing in close proximity. Two of the most common viruses are the Feline calicivirus and the feline herpes virus , these are also the most contagious. Depending on how serious the viral attack is, it is common for a bacterial infection to follow. Stress, overcrowding , contact with an infected cat will contribute to your pet contracting the disease too. Some cats like the punch face, flat faces are more susceptible to infections. The symptoms of an URI are generally a runny nose, nasal discharge, congestion, loss of appetite, fever and rapid breathing . Antibiotics (prescribed by a vet) , rest and separation from other cats and greater intake of fluids will allow for a quicker recovery. The cat should remain separate and indoors, up to date vaccinations and vet exams may help in preventing disease and help maintain a healthy immune system

Cats get worms, most commonly the Roundworm and the Tape worm. Even indoor cats can get worms. Round worm is one of the most widespread forms, contracted from eating infected birds, rodents, insects or even contaminated soil or water. Roundworms invade a cat’s intestines migrating to its organs and bloodstream. Symptoms include spaghetti-shaped strings in his feces or vomit, a lack of appetite, diarrhea, distended belly or a dull coat . Owners must be specially vigilant in kittens as a large build up of roundworms can be fatal .

Tapeworms are long and ribbon-shaped and cats usually contract it by ingesting a flea that has consumed tapeworm eggs. The larvae hatch in the cat’s stomach and attach themselves in the small intestines and sap nutrients. A feline with a heavy infestation of tapeworms will lose weight, suffer mild diarrhea, stomach cramp and loss of appetite. Rice shaped grains around the cat’s anus and in the feces signal tapeworm infestation. Oral deworming is the recommended treatment for both round and tape worm. Cleanliness, flea control, keeping the cat indoors and being vigilant will help prevent and control the onset of worm infestation.

Another common ailment in cats is a Urinary tract disease (UTD), which occurs in the bladder, the urethra , the tube leading from the bladder and carries urine out of the cat’s system. One of the most painful but common afflictions, it characterized by blood in the urine and painful urination. UTDs have no specific cause but several possible ones. UTDs may be caused by high ash and mineral content in dry cat food, dehydration , cystitis , bacterial infection to name a few. If your cat is experiencing bladder problems while urinating or squatting and meowing in pain, a visit to the vet is necessary. The vet may prescribe medication based on symptoms and urine test results to ascertain what may have caused the bladder wall to thicken, urinary crystals or a blockage of the urinary flow. Change in the diet, prescribed medication, low stress will result in the infection disappearing within 10 days.

Urinary tract disease occurs in the bladder and the urethra, the tube leading from the bladder that carries urine out of the cat’s system. Characterized by blood in the urine and painful urination, urinary tract disease has no specific cause but several possible ones: cystitis, dehydration, bacterial infection or the high ash and mineral content in dry cat food. Cats experiencing urinary or bladder problems may strain while urinating, squatting and meowing in pain. Your vet may discover a thickened bladder wall, and blockage of urine flow or urinary crystals. With prescribed medication and a change in the cat’s diet, the infection should cease within 10 days. Your vet will conduct several urinalyses to monitor the presence of blood in the urine. A low-stress environment and the proper nutrition can help prevent urinary tract infections. A low stress environment and proper nutrition will prevent UTDs from occurring

Feline renal (kidney) failure involves the breaking down of the kidneys, impeding the regulating of blood and water levels, the ability to filter and process waste. Chronic renal failure (CRF) may be hereditary and involves the gradual deterioration of tiny units called nephrons which maintain hydration levels and process waste. CRF is also believed to be the result of poor nutrition and because it occurs gradually cats may show no signs for years. By the time symptoms become visible and a diagnosis confirmed, the damage is usually irreversible. Extreme thirst, frequent urination , drooling , weight loss, dehydration and bad breath may all be signs of CRF. Although CRF is incurable and progressive, your pet can be kept comfortable with medications and IV fluids prescribed by your vet as well as with dietary changes

Acute renal failure is fast occurring and is usually caused by the accidental ingestion of harmful chemicals, anti freeze or an illness that affects the kidney area. If your cat exhibit is vomiting , has seizures and unusual bad breath, struggling to urinate, a lack of coordination and loss of appetite seek immediate medical attention. The vet may be able to remove or neutralize the toxins and restore the electrolyte balance usually with medication and fluids and is the first step in reversing the renal failure. There remains a strong change of kidney damage, the extent of which varies due to a number of factors, the most important being a quick diagnosis and medical intervention.

Cats also suffer from feline gingivitis or gum inflammation . This may indicate the onset of periodontis, the most common and widespread feline dental disease. Gingivitis is caused by a plaque and cats with a high carbohydrate diet are more sensitive to plaque bacteria. Plaque can also harden and turn into tartar , a yellowish crust along the cat’s gums, causing discomfort and irritation. Gum detachment is one of the most serious consequences if tartar is untreated. Red gums, bad breath and difficulty in eating are early signs. Gingivitis once diagnosed should be treated with the cats gums being professionally cleaned. Antibiotics may be needed to. Failure to do so may cause the bacteria to spread to other organs through the blood stream and cause kidney damage. Good oral hygiene is the best way to fight the onset of gingivitis.

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