Unlike their wild ancestors, domestic cats hardly have to spend any effort on their feed. In the case of domestic cats, this often results in a lack of exercise. This can have bad health consequences. Here you can read what is important when feeding house cats.
Hunting is no longer essential for most domestic cats nowadays because they get their food very conveniently and filled into the bowl by humans at all times. Here and there, there are also delicious snacks on top – the physical effort for eating has been reduced to a minimum for the cats.
Domestic cats often consume more than the 300 kilocalories they need every day, although the possibilities for burning calories are limited, especially for purely domestic cats. This creates health risks for the cats because the naturally perfect hunters need enough exercise to stay slim and healthy.
Between 40 and 50 percent of all cats in the industrialized nations are said to be overweight. The causes of this are lack of exercise in connection with the intake of too many calories.
Health consequences for the cats
Unfortunately, overweight as a health risk is still underestimated by many cat owners. This is fatal, because obese cats have a four times higher risk, of developing diabetes mellitus.
Obese cats also suffer from the following diseases far more often than their slim counterparts:
- Urinary disorders
- Liver damage
- Joint diseases, e.g. arthrosis
- Skin diseases
Besides, indoor cats suffer from urinary tract diseases such as cystitis, urinary stones, or urinary semolina much more frequently than free-roosters. Overweight, lack of exercise, and, above all, insufficient fluid intake are risk factors for these diseases. Symptoms include difficulty and painful urination and blood in the urine. If the cat is unable to urinate at all, it is an emergency and should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.
To prevent urinary tract diseases, there are special feeds that stimulate fluid intake, strengthen the mucous membranes and, due to their special composition, make it more difficult to form urinary crystals. The cat must be examined by a veterinarian beforehand because the wrong diet can harm her.
Therefore, it is very important to make sure that the cat stays slim. If a few extra pounds are already making life difficult for the cat, it should slowly lose weight. If the animals lose too much fat too quickly, there is a risk that their liver will fail. It is best to get individual advice from the veterinarian.
Healthy eating of house cats
In order for a cat to stay fit and healthy as a purely domestic cat, there are three essential aspects to consider when it comes to nutrition:
1. Adequate fluid intake
Apartment cats often drink too little. The result of a lack of fluids is cystitis, urinary stones, and constipation. To encourage your cat to drink:
- Place water bowls some distance from the feeding place and the toilet
- Set up water points near the cat’s favorite spots
- Cat drinking fountain
- Moisten wet food a little
- Flavor the water in the bowl with a little milk or broth. However, the delicious mixed drinks spoil quickly, so pour away after an hour and clean the bowl.
2. The right amount of feed
Cats mustn’t consume too many calories a day. A common feeding mistake is the always full dry food bowl. Many owners want to enable their cats to eat a little something at any time. This corresponds to the natural eating behavior of cats, but there must be only as much dry food in the bowl as the cat needs.
If she gets wet food or treats on top of that, the calorie quantity of these foods has to be deducted from the dry food ration. And if the cat has already eaten its daily ration after a few hours, the bowl remains empty for the rest of the day! Natural eating behavior also means not eating for a few hours. This is no different in the great outdoors than in pure housing.
3. Adequate exercise
Adequate exercise is important for all cats. This can also be combined with feeding: play with your cat and let them work for their feed, for example by hiding the dry food in the whole apartment. The exercise is not only fun and brings variety to everyday cat life, but it also prevents overweight and diabetes mellitus and also promotes digestion.
Checklist: Food for domestic cats
To avoid sedentary lifestyle, obesity and diseases, you should consider these aspects when feeding your cats:
- determine the cat’s daily calorie needs
- never feed more than one daily ration of calories
- Combine wet and dry feed
- Wet food supplies the cat with liquid
- Dry food gets the cat moving (food games, foraging)
- in case of illness, ask the veterinarian about special food
- Weigh the cat once a week: adjust the amount of feed accordingly