Choosing the Right Diet for Your Cat

15 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Your cat has some unique dietary needs that are not far from their cousins' in the wild. Domestic cats share the digestive structures of lions and tigers. To stay healthy, your cat's diet must provide similar nutrients to what they would get if they were hunting prey. Here are some tips to help you provide your little wildcat with the food it needs.

It's All about Meat

Your cat's body needs certain nutrients to survive because it doesn't produce enough of them itself. The amino acid taurine is an example of one of these nutrients on which your cat's life depends. This amino acid is most easily found in animal meat, which is why cats are carnivores. Taurine is necessary for your cat to have a healthy heart, liver, gallbladder, and eyes.

Another important amino acid is arginine, which is also found in meat. This substance regulates the byproducts resulting from the breakdown of protein by your cat's body. Without sufficient arginine in the diet, a toxic buildup of waste products would occur in your cat's blood.

Food that is rich in animal protein and low on fillers, such as grains, is what your cat needs. Your veterinarian can have a discussion with you on pet health and the best foods that will give your cat the nutrients it needs. You vet will also have insight into your cat's specific health needs and where dietary adjustments need to be made.

For example, if your cat has kidney disease, a high-protein diet can be hard on the kidneys because of the waste materials produced. Special kidney diets are available that give your cat the animal protein it needs with less impact on its kidneys.

The ingredients of the food is one factor to consider when feeding your cat. The other is whether to feed them wet or dry food.

Cat Food Formulations

There is a dizzying variety of cat foods from which to choose that fall into three categories: wet, dry and semi-moist. There are pros and cons to each.

Wet Food

  • This food smells stronger, which is good for older cats with a diminished sense of smell.
  • Wet food is easier for a cat to eat that has dental issues, such as the loss of several teeth.
  • This food provides water in a cat's diet for those cats that don't frequent the water bowl.
  • A can of wet food spoils quickly after being opened.

Dry Food

  • This food is easier to leave out for your cat to graze on throughout the day.
  • Dry food is easy to store for long periods after the bag is opened.
  • Chewing the dry food has a massaging effect on your cat's gums.
  • Most dry foods tend to be less expensive than their wet counterparts.

Semi-Moist Foods

  • This food looks like chunks of dry food that have enough moisture in them to be chewy instead of crunchy.
  • This form comes in less varieties than wet or dry foods and tends to be more expensive.
  • Some cat owners offer semi-moist foods as treats with dry or wet as the primary source of nutrition.

Which one to feed your cat depends largely on which form they prefer to eat. Health needs may dictate the form, such as giving wet food to a cat with chronic dental issues. Otherwise, try both wet and dry foods with your cat to see which type they consistently eat. Contact a representative from a facility like Elizabethton Veterinary Clinic for further information and advice.