What are the nutritional needs of an adult cat
Cats can be fed with a ready-made food according to their needs. It is important that it is declared as complete feed. This means that the food contains all the nutrients and ingredients the cat needs every day. Wet food is preferable to dry food, as cats that eat dry food drink little extra water. In the case of wet food, water absorption is promoted by feeding alone. This prevents urinary tract problems. If the cat only eats dry food, it should be encouraged to drink water (for example through a drinking fountain). With kittens, it makes sense to get them used to many different types of food (see food stamping below). In adult animals, feed brands and feed types should not be changed as often in order not to unnecessarily burden the animals' gastrointestinal tract.
It is also possible to feed your cat with food that you have cooked and prepared yourself. Such a feed is free of industrial additives, but the preparation requires nutritional knowledge and a certain amount of time to produce a really balanced diet in terms of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, trace elements and vitamins. Anyone who decides to cook for their four-legged friend should first read the relevant literature and then seek advice from a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition. With long-term feeding of self-cooked feed, a ration plan should be drawn up and precisely calculated in order to avoid a deficiency or excess of important nutrients.
Food for sick, pregnant or young animals
For the selection of a suitable feed for sick animals, pregnant / lactating or growing animals, the veterinarian should be consulted. He should help decide which feed is optimal for the individual animal at the time.
Be careful with a vegetarian and vegan diet
The vegetarian diet of cats should be viewed very critically. Cats are carnivores by nature and according to Section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act, animals must be fed appropriately according to their type and needs. Cats are dependent on the intake of the amino acid (taurine), which is naturally only found in animal tissues. The cat also has to take in vitamin A through food, as it is important for bone and muscle growth as well as for eyesight, among other things. Vitamin A is mainly found in animal components such as liver. Vitamin A precursors contained in plants cannot be used by cats to synthesize vitamin A. A purely vegetarian diet can therefore fundamentally not meet the natural needs of a cat. In healthy adult cats, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet (vegetarian plus milk and egg products) is theoretically possible by calculating the rations and adding all essential nutrients.
However, there is another aspect to consider when feeding cats. It happens that an animal that has got used to a special feed at a young age no longer accepts any other feed. In this case, one speaks of feed embossing. This means that it is sometimes impossible to switch a cat that was not used to a vegetarian diet as a puppy. Forced feeding (except for medical reasons) should be refused for animal welfare reasons. On the other hand, with the vegetarian diet of kittens, one must also bear in mind that they may later no longer be able to be switched to other food through a food stamping - this may be necessary, for example, if the cat needs certain diets due to illnesses.
Pregnant and lactating cats
Vegetarian feeding of pregnant or nursing cats and growing cats should be avoided as a needs-based diet is very difficult to achieve under these conditions and an over- or undersupply at this time can have serious health consequences for the animals.
A purely vegan diet for cats is to be rejected. It does not meet the basic nutritional needs of a cat and is therefore not justifiable from an animal welfare point of view. In some clinical studies, significant deficiencies have been found in cats on a vegan diet. Thus, vegan feeding cannot rule out the possibility of pain, suffering and damage in the cat as a result of this type of feeding, which would mean a violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
Here you can find more background information on vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs and cats
Where does the meat in the finished feed come from?
Meat production produces slaughter by-products that do not find their way over the shop counter. They are the raw materials for dog and cat food. The production of finished feed for animals is regulated by law in Germany. According to this, only animal by-products that are safe for human consumption may be used for pet food. Internal organs such as the heart, liver, spleen or kidneys are largely processed into animal feed. The amount is so large that there is enough meat for the production of pet food and no animal has to be slaughtered just for the production of dog and cat food.
Organic dog food and organic cat food are currently only a very small market segment. If more meat, egg and milk products from animals raised in animal welfare are bought in the future due to increased human demand, the market share of dog and cat food, for the production of which is used in the manufacture of slaughter by-products from animals raised in animal welfare, will also grow. Ultimately, humans alone decide, with their own consumption behavior, how cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and other types of poultry are kept.
Allergic to feed?
Cats can be allergic to food. Most of the causes cannot be traced back to a change in feed, as many pet owners believe. Rather, reactions occur to food that the dog or cat has been eating for a long time.
An intolerance reaction or even a feed allergy can be triggered by all components of the feed. Common allergens are proteins, but also certain types of grain or feed additives.
The symptoms of such a disease are varied. They can affect the skin and / or the gastrointestinal tract:
- Itching (especially in the ears and head area)
- Edema around the eyes (thickening)
- Skin inflammation and other skin reactions
Diagnosis is usually very difficult and lengthy, as the same symptoms are caused by many other diseases.
If the vet suspects that there may be a feed allergy, he will put together an elimination diet. This means that for several weeks (at least 6-8) the pet owner feeds a feed with a source of protein and carbohydrate that has never been fed before. Alternatively, a so-called "hypoallergenic" diet can be fed, in which the proteins are broken down in such a way that the cat no longer reacts allergically to it. Additives can also cause allergies. This applies both to the use of ready-made feed and to additives that the pet owner adds to feed he has prepared himself.
As with all allergies, the best therapy is to avoid the triggering substance. However, it is often very difficult to identify them. In order to clarify whether it is a matter of a feed allergy or to identify the allergy-causing feed component, perseverance and regular veterinary checks are often necessary.
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