Like all animals, cats need water to keep their bodies functioning. Water consumption is especially important for animals with kidney disease, an epidemic among older house cats. This means that all cat owners need to provide attractive water bowls or drinking fountains and make sure that their cats always have clean, palatable water. However, owners concerned with dehydration or owners of cats that do not want to drink much water should consider raw or canned diets. These diets have high water content and provide for much of a cat’s moisture requirements. Dry diets, on the other hand, have low water content, so cats fed these diets need to drink water more regularly in order to survive. This is not to say that dry diets are unacceptable. Owners simply need to be aware that if they choose a dry diet, they need to take special care to ensure that their cats take in water each day.
No Dog Food
Because cats are true carnivores with strict nutritional requirements, they cannot survive on commercial dog foods or improperly formulated homemade diets. Feeding such diets to cats can result in serious health issues including heart disease, eye disease, neurological disease and other health issues. In order to ensure that their cats’ nutritional needs are met, owners must choose foods that are labeled as “complete and balanced” for cats or follow home diet plans endorsed by veterinary nutritionists.
Like humans, modern house cats live much longer, easier lives than their ancestors. This means that they are subject to diseases of old age and inactivity. These include diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease and obesity. While it is important to meet a cat’s need for meat, insisting on feeding old or sick cats the same diet that their younger, more active ancestors ate does not make sense. After all, old and sick cats did not survive on these diets. For example, the high protein diets that work well in many animals can be very dangerous for cats with serious kidney disease. When feeding an animal with a health condition, owners should consult with a veterinarian.
Another important consideration for cat owners is weight management. Modern house cats usually live soft lives, and they take in many more calories than they need. This problem is compounded when cats are fed high protein and high fat foods, because these foods are also high in calories. Owners need to practice strict portion control or to choose foods formulated to be lower in calories. Many owners find that including canned foods in their cats’ diets can help with portion control. Because canned diets have high water content, cats feel fuller while consuming fewer calories than when they are fed more caloric-ally dense dry diets.