Feedback on Cat Nutrition

An informed reader responds to another reader's inquiry about cat nutrition and feeding.

  • 030 cat nutrition - SAULETAS-FOTOLIA
    Although your cat would probably love nothing more than to eat tuna all the time, a high-fish diet isn't compatible with proper cat nutrition.

  • 030 cat nutrition - SAULETAS-FOTOLIA

I'd like to share some information on cat nutrition as requested by a reader. I've been a long-time feline fancier and a subscriber to various magazines devoted to the animals. Add to that the reading of numerous books and talks with my vets—including the recently deceased Dr. Les Colette, who wrote the medical column for Cats Magazine—and you have someone who hopes she knows a little about the subject.

I used to make complicated concoctions for my pets to insure their good health, and one of the ingredients I used was dry milk. My advice is: Don't! Over a period of time I noticed that the cats would have loose stools and diarrhea, especially if I increased the amount of milk powder over a period of days to 1/3 cup per animal. Other breeders I spoke with confirmed my observation. According to what I've read, some adult cats can tolerate milk, but some, if not most, can't digest it properly—just like some people. To be on the safe—and healthy—side, don't give this food, either fresh or dried, to grown felines.

Another point: Fish is not a natural food for cats and I strongly caution against its overuse! The animals can become almost addicted to it and refuse anything else. This has happened to three cats that belong to a neighbor of mine. Two are able to tolerate a high-fish diet, but the one that is not has become afflicted with skin problems and loss of hair. Now the owner is stuck with a "problem" pet, since her cat won't eat other foods and she can't bear to go through the difficult period of getting it to accept alternate fare.

Another error people make in the belief that they're upgrading their cats' nutrition is to feed them eggs. Whole eggs. Again, don't. The yolk is OK, but the white blocks the absorption of important nutrients in the intestine. Be thrifty: Give the yolk to Puss and add the white to your breakfast eggs.

Many people are unaware that fats are important in the feline diet. A daily teaspoon of butter or oil (not fish oil) is a very good idea. Got fat scraps from steak or other meat? Rinse off the seasonings and chop the pieces into the animals' food. Cats, unlike humans, need saturated fat—especially if you rely heavily on canned or dry commercial rations, which (to retard spoilage) contain very little of this necessary ingredient.

In the wild state, a cat usually eats most of its prey, including the contents of the intestine. If your felines are indoor pets, as mine are, provide a pot of grass for them to nibble instead.



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