August 5, 2020 |0 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed
How to Improve Your Cat's Diet in 5 Simple Steps
Feeding your cat a healthy diet is crucial for their longevity, health, and overall well being. Our domesticated felines have evolved to be able to eat many of the pet foods on the market today, but does that mean that they’re good for them?
Let’s look at the importance of feeding your cat a healthy diet and share five simple tips and cat tricks you can do today to improve their cat diet.
About a Cat’s Diet
Before we talk about the steps you can take to improve your cat’s diet, let’s talk about the importance of feeding your cat healthy food for their whole lives.
Cats evolved as hunters, meaning that they need a diet high in protein. But unlike dogs, who are also carnivores, cats are obligate carnivores.
What is an Obligate Carnivore?
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they rely on the nutrients found only in animal products. Because of this, they must consume high levels of protein, moderate levels of fat, and minimal carbohydrates. Regular carnivores can survive on a diet with less meat, but for cats, this protein is a necessity.
Because of this, it’s super important to feed your cat a healthy diet. Not only do animal products contain the protein and fat they need for optimal feline nutrition, but they also contain the right amounts of micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Cats still channel their inner hunter when they eat every day and need food that fuels their body for correct calorie intake and a healthy weight.
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The Side Effects of a Poor Diet
Unfortunately, many of the cat food options and cat treats in today’s market are full of carbohydrates, fillers, animal by-products, and other ingredients that cats aren’t designed to eat. This might make it easier for pet owners, but it’s not doing any favors for our feline friends.
There are many side effects of a poor diet for our cats, but some of the most notable include:
- Hair loss
- Slower growing hair
- Food sensitivities
- Dry skin
- Increased risk of health conditions including cat UTIs, lower urinary tract disease, bladder stones, taurine deficiency, obesity, diabetes, and more
As you can see, it’s important to examine your cat’s diet and make sure you’re feeding them the best. Now, let’s share some steps you can take to improve your cat’s diet.
5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Cat’s Diet
There are many things you can do to improve your cat’s diet, from choosing the right food in the first place to changing its location and bowl. Our kitties are picky eaters! But, feeding your cat a healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated. These five steps will help you get started:
1. Look at the Ingredients
The first thing you should do when considering your cat’s diet is to look at the list of ingredients. As mentioned earlier, much commercial pet food has lots of ingredients that aren’t good for your cat, including:
- Grain or grain by-products
- Corn and wheat gluten
- Meat by-products
- Butylated hydroxyanisole
- Butylated hydroxytoluene
- Food dyes
- Propylene glycol
These are ingredients that aren’t found in a cat’s natural diet, therefore they are harder for them to digest. When choosing cat food, look for one that has a protein source as the first ingredient. This should make up the majority of your cat’s food.
In addition, limiting dry food in pet nutrition will help reduce those pesky ingredients we mentioned earlier. Most wet foods contain higher levels of protein.
Feed Small Portions More Frequently
Cats are natural grazers, which means that they’re used to having small amounts of food throughout the day. Think of a wild cat’s life: they might catch a mouse or rabbit here and there throughout the day, instead of hunting once during the day and feasting on a big meal. Some experts actually say that these fasting periods in between meals are good for your kitty. Plus, allowing your cat to “free feed” throughout the day and have as much food as they want can increase their chances of becoming an overweight cat.
Always Provide Fresh Water
Hydration is just as important as the food you’re feeding your cat, which is why we included it in this list of steps you can take to improve their diet. As we mentioned, cats need a lot of water and forget to drink throughout the day.
To combat this, there are a number of things you can try to help your cat drink more water. First, make sure to have plenty of water bowls available around the house (not just by the food). Many cats actually prefer to have their food and water separated. Put the bowls in convenient locations so it makes it easier for them to drink, instead of having to walk all the way across the house.
Next, try a cat fountain if your cat doesn’t seem to like still water. Some cats prefer the moving water of these fountains and will drink it right up!
Lastly, if your cat will allow it, add a little water to their food. Even small amounts will help prevent many of the issues that come from a diet without enough hydration, including feline idiopathic cystitis, UTIs, lower tract infections, kidney issues, kidney failure and bladder stones in cats.
Consider Special Dietary Needs
Finally, consider your kitty’s special dietary needs when looking at their diet. There are both over-the-counter and prescription food options available to help with a number of conditions. These include special diets for conditions such as:
- Weight management
- Urinary health
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Digestive issues
- Skin/food sensitivities
- Kidney issues
- Dietetic management
- Anxiety/stress management
These cat foods work by providing more nutrients that your cat needs. For example, the urinary health foods encourage your cat to drink more water (which is crucial to avoid the issues listed above) and contain ingredients that can help dissolve urinary struvite crystals in cats urine. Always consider your cat’s unique needs and talk to your vet if you think prescription food would be right for them.
Choosing the Right Cat Food
Now that we understand the importance of a healthy diet for our kitties, what ingredients to avoid, and some simple tips on how to improve your cat’s diet, let’s outline some tips when shopping for your cat food:
- Read the nutrition label to compare ingredients
- Look for cat food that is AAFCO-approved. These foods are developed to give your cat the correct balance of nutrients and calories
- Consider their stage of life. Kittens will have different dietary needs than senior cats
- Look for foods that have meat, meat by-products, or seafood listed as the first ingredient
- Give treats sparingly (no matter how much they beg!)
- Find the cat food that’s right for them. This might take some experimenting if you have a picky cat
Our cats might have specific dietary needs, but giving them the best diet possible is well worth it. Questions like “What can I give my cat for allergies” or “Do cats need baths?” could also be answered with the right cat food. A healthy diet means a healthy cat and a longer lifespan, more energy, a silkier coat, and fewer allergies. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that animal products need to make up the majority of their diet. They should have food that contains protein, the required vitamins, and minerals, fat, and minimal carbohydrates. In essence, what your cat eats can determine the strength and longevity of their life. This is why we’ve created PrettyPlease contains 24 essential vitamins and nutrients, pro and prebiotics for digestive health, as well as other nutrient dense ingredients.
By making these simple changes, you can help your kitty live a long and healthy life!