Cats need a balanced diet to achieve a healthy lifestyle. When cats don’t get the right nutrients in the right proportions, their health can suffer. Along with high-quality food, dietary supplements with vitamins for cat coats can help pet parents give their cat a full and nutrient-rich diet.
Nutrients That All Cats Need
Cats might need different amounts depending on their age, but all cats need the following nutrients.
Cats are carnivores, but more than that, they are obligate carnivores. This means they need to eat meat (animal protein) to get the essential nutrients that only meat provides. Unlike meat, plants don’t have enough high-quality protein to keep cats healthy. Plant-based protein is also much more difficult for cats to digest. For these reasons, Fuzzy vets never recommend a vegan diet for cats.
2. Amino Acids
Cats get amino acids from animal sources like meat, fish, and eggs. While protein-rich sources have amino acids, they also need to supply the right amino acids for cat health. Some amino acids are essential, and some are not. Taurine is one of the essential amino acids that cats need in their diet, and it helps with everything from reproduction to eye and heart health.
Along with animal protein, cats need a regular source of water to stay hydrated. Cats tend to get most of their water from meat sources, but some prepared foods, especially dry kibble, don’t have enough water content. Pet parents should make sure cats have access to fresh water daily. A water fountain may attract curious cats and help encourage them to drink enough water.
4. Vitamins and Minerals
Cats need various nutrients for good health, including vitamins and minerals that come from the diet. Some cats may not get the diet their body needs, so vets may recommend cat vitamins or dietary supplements for cats. This is often the case with raw, home-prepared meals. These meals can work if created in partnership with a veterinarian, but they tend to lack micronutrients and may need a multivitamin or probiotic.
5. Fats and Fiber
These nutrients are important for cat health, especially a cat’s skin, coat, and digestion. Along with creating soft skin and shiny fur, fats like omega-3s and 6s are important for eye and kidney health, and cat joint supplements keep cat limbs supple and active. Fiber supports the feline digestive tract and helps keep bacteria counts healthy. Probiotics for cats can help introduce good bacteria into a cat’s gastrointestinal tract.
Diets at Different Life Stages
Age and lifestyle can affect nutrient needs.
Kittens grow rapidly. Once they’re weaned off their mother’s milk, kittens need nutrient-dense food specially formulated for their age. This is because kittens need two to three times as much food energy as an adult cat, so their food must have even more nutrients. In fact, kittens need protein to be 30% of their available energy.
Most cats transition to the adult stage around 12 months old when they’ve reached their full height and weight. There are exceptions, though. Larger breeds such as Maine Coons, Persians, British Shorthairs, and Ragdolls often take longer and may not be fully grown until they are three to five years old. This may mean they need kitten food for longer.
Adult cats need nutrient-rich foods in the right maintenance amounts, so pet parents should talk with their vet to see how much food their cat needs. Extremely active cats will need more food energy than more sedentary cats. Portion-controlled meals twice a day can help prevent cats from overeating.
Senior cats need about the same amount of nutrient-dense calories as adult cats. Senior cats who become overweight will need fewer calories, and those who lose weight may need more calories. Pet parents should also consider any senior cat health conditions, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, which may require a different feeding schedule. Different medications can affect how many nutrients a senior cat needs.
Overweight Cats and Diet Considerations
Overweight cats require portion-controlled meals to help them shed the extra pounds. For cats, every extra pound means an increased risk for health issues. Portion-controlled meals with the right nutrient ratios can help ensure a cat gets a balanced diet.
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For cat medical questions or to ask “what do cats eat” at specific life stages, reach out to the 24/7 Live Vet Chat. The Fuzzy Vet Team can help pet parents create a balanced diet that addresses top-quality kitten care and cat nutrition. Cats deserve the best. Sign up for a Fuzzy membership today.