Pet Health Library

Nutrition and Weight Management for Cats

Your cat needs a high-quality balanced diet to make sure she gets the vitamins and minerals her body needs. New pet food diets and trends come and go, so be sure to ask your veterinarian any questions before starting your cat on a new diet. If you’re wondering what to feed your new cat, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.

Cat and dog foods aren’t the same and you shouldn’t feed your cat dog food or vice versa. Cats need specific vitamins and amino acids, such as:

  • Vitamin A: In order to keep a cat’s vision and skin healthy, your cat needs a certain amount of Vitamin A. Dogs don’t have to worry about getting vitamin A from their food because their bodies turn beta carotene into this necessary vitamin.
  • Taurine: While dogs can make their own supply of this important amino acid, cats need to get it from their diet. Feeding cats dog food can lead to a type of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Though many people think cats like a fish-only diet, feeding only fish to your cat won’t give them the amount of taurine they require.
  • Arachidonic acid: This fatty acid helps cats produce an inflammatory response to naturally protect against illness, control skin growth, and help other parts of the body function properly. While dogs can make their own, cats need to get arachidonic acid from their food.
  • Protein: Cats need more protein than dogs and fewer carbohydrates. This is especially important for kittens and adult cats who are nursing.

Managing your cat’s weight

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 60% of cats are overweight or obese. In animals, fat starts to accumulate around internal organs before it’s visible from the outside. That means by the time you notice your cat is gaining weight, her health may already be negatively affected. A 10-pound cat only needs about 200 calories a day.

Being overweight or obese doesn’t just affect how your cat looks, it also increases her risk for many health problems including:

  • Cancer
  • Cranial cruciate ligament surgery
  • Decreased life expectancy by up to 2.5 years
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Osteoarthritis

If your cat does become overweight or obese, talk with your veterinarian about ways to get your cat back to a healthy weight. This could include a change in diet or starting an exercise program. Your veterinarian can help you to find a solution that works for you and your cat.

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AMC’s Community Practice aims to provide the highest quality primary veterinary care and to educate our clients about the latest in healthcare and preventative medicine, so they can make informed medical decisions for their pets, enabling their companions to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

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