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Feeding 

Feeding
Cats´ feeding behaviour
Home-cooking

Feeding

Food plays a vital role in our health and in that of our pets.

Each element in the feed has its own role to play.

Excess and deficiency are equally harmful for a cat´s health, so you should get informed as to the qualitative and the quantitative needs of your little cat, which are quite different from a dog´s.

Certain sometimes unintended mistakes in making up home-made rations can have serious pathological repercussions. A cat´s needs, moreover, depend on its physiological status (care, growth, lactation, or gestation) and sexual status (sterilised or not). Ready-made food nowadays meets this charge-book´s specifications, whether it be tins or biscuits. Of course, differences exist with respect to the quality of the ingredients: "premium" or "super-premium" are terms used when top-quality raw material goes into the making of cat-food.

Cats need some 50 nutriments in order to live. Lack or deficiency in any one of these will lead to chain reactions and pathological disturbance. With regard to proteins, which constitute the framework of body tissues and are made up of chains of molecules known as amino acids, certain essential amino acids which cats are unable to synthesise themselves are to be distinguished: e.g., arginine and taurine. Taurine deficiency can cause blindness and heart problems. It is a substance only to be found in proteins of animal origin, which means that cats, unlike dogs, are strictly carnivorous.

Lipids or fats are composed of fatty acids. They provide the organism with energy and contribute to cell membrane structure. Once again, there are for cats certain so-called essential fatty acids which are only to be found in meat and fish. Carbohydrates or sugars for their part also supply energy. They are contained in vegetables. They also contribute to good intestinal transit when they come in the form of fibre. Lastly, minerals, vitamins and oligo-elements need to be present in sufficient amounts but not in excess. With respect to home-made food, be especially careful not to give too much liver, which is rich in vitamin A and in the long run leads to knitting of the vertebrae.

Cats´ feeding behaviour

Cats, unlike greedy dogs, are "nibblers". They prefer to have several meals a day. If food is simply made available, they will take some 10 to 16 meals a day.

Various studies have produced a classification of cats´ preferences (although there are wide individual differences): in descending order, cats most happily eat fish (and tuna in particular), then beef, horse-meat, pork, chicken or offal, with a preference for red offal (liver and kidneys).

With respect to texture, preferences lie at the two extremes: they will go just as well for a very dry as for a very wet ration. As far as wet rations are concerned, chunky recipes are preferred to pastes. In fact, a cat´s preferences would appear to be strongly influenced by early experience: kittens, by imitation, eat the same as their mothers and in most cases will keep a life-long preference for the food they ate when very young.

Cats are fine connoisseurs when it comes to feeding, and are very sensitive to the tableware. Rather than stainless steel or plastic, glass, china or porcelain dishes are to be preferred. The dish should not be too deep: dog-tins are not suitable. To really make your cat happy, finally, try heating its food briefly in your micro-wave oven.

Jean-Pierre Samaille
Veterinary Surgeon

Bridgend Branch
Tel: 01656 652751
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