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Nutrition Nuggets
 
 
Your cat's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your cat, how much food to feed, and the differences in cat foods, so your cat gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Cat Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of cat nutrition.

Choosing Your Cat's Food Should Be Convenient

June 27, 2014 / (3) comments

Dedicated cat owners are a heterogeneous group. I have met some whose lives are focused on their fur kids. Others still love their cats, but have additional interests and/or responsibilities that can distract from their cat’s care. I suspect most of us fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum.

 

If you are an uber-dedicated owner, you may have the time, energy, and money to home-cook your cat’s food or make a special trip across town to the boutique pet store to buy a special diet. The rest of us, however, might do better to stick with a readily available brand of cat food. Why? Cats are notoriously resistant to changes in their diet and when you realize you’re out of cat food after a day at work, carpooling the kids to karate, and folding a mountain of laundry, it’s awfully nice to be able to run to the nearest grocery store or 24 hour supercenter and pick up what your cat is used to eating.

 

This is about more than convenience. When faced with something new, many cats will go on a hunger strike, which can lead to a potentially serious disease called hepatic lipidosis. When cats don’t eat, their fat is mobilized and sent to the liver where it is broken down and utilized for energy. All goes well when this happens in a controlled manner. However, when large amounts of fat are mobilized quickly the liver becomes overwhelmed and the organ stops functioning normally. One missed meal isn’t enough to initiate a case of hepatic lipidosis, but it doesn’t take more than a few of days of inappetence to set the wheels in motion, particularly if a cat is overweight.

 

Foods of all different qualities are available through major retailers. I recommend that owners base their cat’s diet around the best food that they can reasonably expect to be able to purchase on a regular basis. However, that doesn’t mean that busy owners have to avoid specialty foods entirely. They can either be used as the occasional treat or in combination with a more readily available brand. Here’s how I’ve balanced convenience and my cat’s taste for the gourmet.

 

My cat Victoria eats both canned and dry food. Her canned variety is a brand that I can buy at the grocery store located just a few blocks from my house. That way I know that in a pinch, I can always run down the street and provide her with a meal. Her dry food, however, is fit for a feline “foodie.” I’ve chosen this combination because “grocery store” brands of canned food tend to be of higher quality than are the dry foods located in the same aisle, and I have more confidence in my ability to keep her stocked in a fancy kibble that I only need to purchase every few months in comparison to the cans that I restock on my weekly trips to the grocery store.

 

This system works to keep me sane and Victoria healthy (she’s 17 and going strong). Give it a try if keeping your cat’s pantry stocked is stressing you out.

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates

 

Image: Mariia Masich / Shutterstock

 

 

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Comments  3

Leave Comment
  • grocery store pet food
    06/27/2014 09:35am

    I have never used grocery store pet food except in an emergency and when I did, I read the labels very carefully. There are too many byproducts--who knows what those are--could be anything--they do not have to specify. There are also too many artificial ingredients. Be careful when buying from the grocery store.

  • grocery store pet food
    06/27/2014 09:35am

    I have never used grocery store pet food except in an emergency and when I did, I read the labels very carefully. There are too many byproducts--who knows what those are--could be anything--they do not have to specify. There are also too many artificial ingredients. Be careful when buying from the grocery store.

  • Resistant to Change
    06/27/2014 06:49pm

    In my experience, most cats are resistant to change whether it be with food or furniture arrangement.

    I combine several high-quality dry foods and make a "trail mix" so if I can't get one of the types, the others are already familiar.

    Each night I split a can of wet food and add a bit of warm water to make gravy. This is a treat for the cats and it allows me to make sure everyone is eating.

    Interestingly, I have only one chow hound who will do almost anything for a treat. And it must be a FRESH treat. (The last quarter of many bags has gone to the back patio for the wildlife). He's also interested in people food. For instance, he's really interested in my pizza. I usually give him a teensy bite (the size of a b-b) and he's content with that. He'll quit begging after that one teensy bite. Odd, but it works for us.

 



ABOUT NUTRITION NUGGETS

JENNIFER COATES, DVM

Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

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