Quite often people will wait until their cat has already developed an ailment to consider changing their cats to a more appropriate diet, using supplements to support health and wellness or feeding more species appropriate treats. Why is it that we treat a good diet for our cats as palliative care? When changes are made, it can also be preventative to disease and supportive of overall mental and physical health.
The habits we set up can mean the difference between a long and healthy life and programming our cats for failure. Even if you’re happy with what you are doing for your cat currently then incorporating even some of these suggestions for change will benefit your cat. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Do what you can, when you can. Some change is better than no change.
Assess their diet…change their diet Deciding what to feed your cat isn’t something you should take lightly. Apart from exercise and mental health, diet is the biggest contributor to wellbeing. Most of the commercial packaged dry and canned foods that line the grocery store shelves are made from inferior ingredients that do little to support good health, and can even contribute to health issues such as diabetes, kidney issues, dental and digestive issues, kin allergies and obesity.
Cats are an obligate carnivore, which means they must have good quality meat in order to thrive. Most low end cat foods lack premium protein and are high in weight inducing carbohydrates such as corn, wheat and soy. What meats they do contain often come from unnamed meats and by-products, which legally can include portions of diseased and dying animals. The good news is that you don’t have to feed these inferior foods to your cat. An increasing number of companies are offering wholesome, natural cat foods formulated to improve and maintain feline health. These diets contain fresh, high quality ingredients with whole named proteins, fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs.
By switching to a premium cat food, you can also choose from a greater variety of food types, including not only high quality kibble and canned food, but also frozen raw and freeze dried food. A lot of people balk at feeding raw food, but today’s raw diets are convenient, easy and hygienic. Raw meat on its own does not constitute a complete and balanced diet, but manufacturers add all the necessary nutrients and form the food into handy tubes, medallions or nuggets that are easy to thaw and serve or reconstitute and serve.
The Moab BARKery carries several feline frozen and freeze dried diets for cats from Steve’s Real Food, Primal Pet Foods, Ziwi Peak, Stella and Chewy’s and Vital Essentials, cats can be picky so we have free samples for you to test with your cat before making a purchase. Think variety when feeding your cat. Rotate brands and protein sources. Giving your cat a premium diet will cost more, but it’s worth it. By feeding them a healthy diet today, you will save on vet bills tomorrow.
Supplement your cat’s diet A healthy cat starts with a healthy diet. Adding certain supplements to their diet can help maintain an even greater level of health and wellness. The three supplements that support and maintain greater feline wellness are prebiotics/probiotics, fiber and omega fatty acids.
Non-pathogenic bacteria are crucial to a variety of GI functions including digesting food, absorbing nutrients and water, producing feces and preventing damage from other microorganisms such as pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. Normal gut bacteria levels are altered by disease, stress, food changes, medications and vaccinations. Indigestion then occurs resulting in vomiting, stool and appetite changes.
Probiotics help maintain normal intestinal function and are generally well tolerated by the feline body. Probiotic supplements should contain millions of diverse bacterial species, some flourish in and support the small intestines, while others aid in the large intestine. Probiotics can be given as a supplement, we recommend the Enhance line of functional supplements from Steve’s Real Food, and their products not only provide a probiotic but also have many functional supporting supplements from pain relief to urinary tract support for cats.
Prebiotics induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms in the stomach and digestive tract. Optagest from inClover Research is our preferred prebiotic, the clinical levels of the organic prebiotic in Optagest act as an ideal food source for native bacteria supporting healthy and balanced digestion. Plant based digestive enzymes break down food to promote maximum nutrient absorption, maximizing every meal. Optagest contains ingredients that address food changes, gas, inconsistent stools or hairballs. Balanced digestion yields a healthier and happier cat.
Fiber is divided into two categories, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to create a gel-like substance that helps digestion by slowing down the movement of food and fluid through the intestines, promoting firmer stool. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the digestive tract in a similar form to how it enters the body, creating greater stool bulk and speeding up the movement of food through the digestive tract.
Fiber promotes a sense of fullness and reduces the urge to eat more, contributing to weight management. Hairball prone cats can benefit from supplemental fiber that binds hair to facilitate its passage through the intestines, the hair exits in feces instead of building up in the stomach and being vomited. Fiber serves as a prebiotic and can be supplemented by incorporating pumpkin in your cats’ diet. Pumpkin can be supplemented by feeding canned organic pumpkin or by using Super Snouts pumpkin latte, a powdered supplement made of pumpkin, pasture raised whole goat milk and prebiotics.
Increasing fiber intake can also aid cats with loose stool and diarrhea. Large bowl diarrhea and colitis occur as a result of food changes, dietary indiscretion, toxin exposure and medications and often responds favorably to fiber supplementation.
Your cat’s joints, skin, coat, nerves, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, immune and other body systems can benefit from Omega Fatty Acid supplementation. Omega Fatty Acids can be used for the treatment of inflammation associated with arthritis, allergic skin diseases, immune-medicated ailments and cancer. They are also recommended for fast growing kittens and any feline enduring environmental or lifestyle stress.
Since cats are obligate carnivores they respond best to animal-based Omega Fatty Acids. The three types of Omega Fatty Acids are primarily found in fish oils. Omega 3 and 9 are anti-inflammatory, while Omega 6 fatty acids are important for nervous tissue development. It is important to supplement your cat with quality fish oils, consider fish oils that have minimal odor and are guaranteed free of heavy metals, pesticides and radiation. Plato Pet Treats Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil and Iceland Pure Sardine and Anchovy Oil are both quality oils, high in omegas.
Choose healthy cat treats As a cat owner, you lavish your cat with love, attention and treats. Love and attention are calorie free, treats not so much. This means cats can easily become overweight. So when reaching for the cat treats, be sure to choose healthy options, look for high quality treats made from natural ingredients, the fewer and simpler the ingredients, the better.
Vital Essentials offers cat treats made from freeze-dried raw duck liver, wild caught salmon, chicken giblets, rabbit kidneys and whole minnows. Cats love the taste of the raw meat and fish, plus there is the added benefit of knowing the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals haven’t been cooked out. Red Barn has just released a new line of limited ingredient freeze dried cat treats that even my picky old cat loves. Freeze-dried raw meal toppers from Stella and Chewy’s, Steve’s Real Food, Primal Pet Products and Ziwi Peak are also a great way to incorporate raw foods into your cat’s diet as a treat.
Healthy doesn’t have to be boring, far from it. You can easily indulge your cat with tasty treats that are also good for them. Just remember to look for quality ingredients, regard treats as an extension of their diet, and treat in moderation.
Rethink your water Water, it is the most important aspect of a healthy and balanced diet yet it’s the most overlooked. There are well over 150 chemicals in most tap waters, depending on where you live. Use filtered water to reduce your cat’s toxin intake. Make sure they have fresh and clean water available all the time. The air inside a home can get dry, especially during the winter when the heat is on, that can contribute to dehydration and dry skin if your cat is not getting enough moisture.
Wash bowls with vinegar. Good white vinegar is a chemical-free alternative to commercial cleaning products. Among other things, you can use it to wash your dishes and clean surfaces, including cat bowls and floors. It disinfects and is odorless when dry. Cats can be sensitive to commercial cleaning products so replace as many of these as possible with natural alternatives.
Take Charge, you know your cat better than anyone so it makes sense that you should be in control of your cat’s diet and wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the Moab Barkery is here to help. By taking steps to improve your cat’s life, your cat can stay physically and mentally active and “purrfectly” healthy.