Peculiar aspects of feline nutrition
• Cats have shorter small intestine and are adapted for high protein diet, high fat, and low bulk diet.
• They are somewhat peculiar in their attitude towards food and eating behaviours.
• Arachidonic acid (ARA) is dietary essential in felines because conversion of dietary linoleic acid (LA) to ARA is rate-limited by low Δ6-desaturase. ARA is required for normal platelet aggregation in cats.
• Taurine must be supplied in the form of dietary meat, fish products or as supplements because of the limited ability of a feline liver to synthesise taurine due to lack of enzyme cysteine deoxygenase. Taurine is critical for normal vision, digestion, heart muscle function and its deficiency results in feline central retinal degeneration (FCRD) and dilated cardiomyopathy.
• Cats are unable to synthesize arginine and that’s why have higher dietary requirements for arginine. Cats have higher level of activity of enzyme picolinic carboxylase in their body, which effectively diverts tryptophan conversion to niacin. So dietary supplementation of niacin is also important.
• Cats lacks ‘β-carotene 15,15 dioxygenase’ enzyme for synthesis of vitamin A. So, they depend on dietary source of preformed vitamin A which is essential for night vision as well as for healthy skin.
Frequency of feeding
Being reliant on food fed by pet-parents means that most cats are restricted to a feeding schedule. They are usually fed two large meals during the day. Even if cats are given ad libitum access to food, which would allow them to eat little and often, their modern lifestyle may prevent them from regulating their calorie intake for several reasons and this leads to obesity.
In order to mimic cat’s natural feeding habit of eating little and often, divide your pet’s daily food ration into a minimum of five portions, which should be fed throughout the 24-hour period using puzzle feeders and timed feeders. Change the location of their food – placing a portion of food in a different location to the last will enable cats to engage their senses in searching for the food.
A cat’s nutritional requirements change through different life stages. It is highly recommended that you get a nutritionally balanced cat food according to her life stage.
Small kittens come with huge responsibilities – feed them with care!
Allow and help kittens to suckle their mother for milk. In case of mother’s inability to nurse her kitten and for orphan kittens artificial feeding is required from the very first day of life. Bottle feed the newborn kitten with about 2-6 ml of formula every 2-3 hours. All of them have to be fed at the rate of 10 to 15 %of body weight per day at birth. This however gradually increases to 20 to 25% of body weight.
Kitten normally starts nibbling on solid food from 3rd to 4th week of age. It is usually best to start with wet kitten food or to soak some dry kibbles designed for kittens in water to thoroughly moisten them. As kittens grow and develop, they can be transitioned to dry food if preferred.
Get rid of woes of weaning kittens with right nutrition
Kittens should be weaned by 6th to 8th weeks of age. Kittens require higher level of proteins. Too much noise, new surroundings, and the cleanliness of food and water dishes may be some of the reasons due to which they might refuse to eat food properly.
Power of food for adult cats
After the age of one year, you can give maintenance diet to your pet. If you have a multi-cat household, then remember that each cat should be fed individually. Kittens from the same litter may acquire different tastes and eating habits, because cats tend to be nibblers or occasional eaters. Fresh clean water must be made available at all times. For adult cats you should feed 2 to 4% of ideal body weight per day.
Say no to these nasties – Foods to avoid giving your cats
Some human foods are toxic for cats, so make sure to keep the following foods out of paw’s reach to avoid a scary situation in the first place. Chocolate and caffeinated drinks cause vomiting and diarrhoea; grapes and raisins lead to development of kidney failure; onion and garlic can damage your pet’s red blood cells and lead to anaemia; raw dough and alcohol can be dangerous and can cause vomiting and tremors;and xylitol (sweetener) ingestion can cause hypoglycaemia in cats.
Feed balanced and right amount of food to your pet to maintain good health and to prevent obesity. Feeding your pet two or more kind of flavours can provide variety, and it can prevent them from developing an exclusive preference for a single food.
(Dr Chamarthi Jyothi, Dr Anchal Keshri, Dr Sunil Nayak, Dr Ankur Khare, Dr Rahul Sharma, Dr Nirmala Muvel, Dr ShanuSingour, Dr Reshu Mishra, Dr Shivansh Tiwari, College of veterinary science, N.D.V.S.U, Jabalpur)