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Facts about feeding cats

Facts about feeding cats

Some pet owners forget that humans require a variety of foods to ensure the consumption of nutritionally balanced meals. A quality cat food has the proper balance of all the nutrients a cat requires, together with a high level of palatability. Adding human food to a nutritionally balanced commercial cat food may upset the nutrient balance of the diet.

Milk is a food and not a substitute for water. As a food, milk is incomplete and does not provide a balanced diet. Milk contains lactose, which requires the enzyme lactase for breakdown in the intestinal tract. If the intestinal tract does not contain sufficient lactase, consumption of a high level of lactose can cause diarrhea.

Repeatedly adding raw eggs to a cat's diet can cause a deficiency of the vitamin biotin, which can lead to dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), loss of hair and poor growth.

Some raw fish can cause a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine. Signs of a thiamine deficiency include anorexia (complete loss of appetite), abnormal posture, weakness, seizures and even death.

Although we may associate meat or meat by-products with a cat's nutritional needs, it must be combined with other ingredients to provide complete nutrition. Raw meats may contain parasites, and cooked meats can be high in fat and do not contain a proper balance of nutrients.

Raw liver, fed daily in large quantities, can cause vitamin A toxicity in cats. Small, soft bones (such as pork chop or chicken bones) should never be given to cats, as they may splinter and lodge in a pet's mouth or throat.

Supplements are not necessary when a normal, healthy cat is being fed a complete and balanced food. However, factors like feeding table scraps, inconsistent exercise or stressful changes in routine can leave cats with special nutritional needs.

Some pet owners believe that additional calcium, and possibly other minerals, should be added to the diets of pregnant and nursing females, and growing puppies and kittens. It is true that more minerals are needed at these times, but they are normally obtained through increased consumption of a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet. Adding them out of proportion to other nutrients can contribute to skeletal deformities and other problems.

Finally, table scraps should not be fed, as they will not provide the balanced diet which cats require.

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