Cats have gone from the backyard to the bedroom and in doing so their nutritional needs have drastically changed. Traditionally cats were primarily outdoors and in charge of keeping the property free of rodents. Cats are instinctually predator-prey minded and therefore spend the majority of the day seeking and capturing mice, voles, birds, rabbits and the like for the main source of nutrition. Have you ever seen a fat mouse in the wild?? - No. Cats are natural carnivores eating high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate small meals frequently and acting individually to obtain their prey. This in turn kept our cats lean and mentally active all day.
As cats became more popular as indoor companions, their activity and nutritional needs declined. Today with our busy work schedules, most cats are sedentary couch potatoes and have an ample supply of food available 24 hours a day, significantly reducing the predator instinct.
In thinking of cats natural behavior, one should aim for a nutritional and exercise requirement to meet those goals. We recommend daily play time with our feline friends and encourage running, jumping, climbing activities. Cats love heights and vertical tree houses, multilevel condos encourage climbing; laser pointers and battery-operated mice allow for running and a wide variety of toys are available for mental and physical playtime. Adult cats should be fed a high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate based diet with multiple small meal feedings to mimic catching a mouse one at a time. Canned foods offer a higher proportion of protein vs. dry with a lower glycemic index. Avoid self feeding machines and leaving dry food down all day which often leads to overeating and obesity. In recent years and predicted to escalate in the future is our concern with morbidly obese cats and the high incident of diabetes in these patiences. As in humans, lifespan and health throughout life is intimately related to lifestyle, in other words, what our cats eat and how much they exercise.
The Doctors at Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital recommend feline examinations every six months to assess the health of your cat paying close attention to diet history, recommendations for changing nutritional needs throughout their life.