As you might be aware, petMD and Hill’s Science Diet have just launched a new Cat Nutrition Center that includes an interactive tool called MyBowl. If you’ve already taken a look at MyBowl for Dogs, the feline version should have a familiar feel. But the information presented is as different as, well, cats and dogs.
The goal of MyBowl for cats is to teach owners what they might not know about feline nutrition, thereby improving cat health. We all know that eating well is one of the best ways to prevent human disease, so it should come as no surprise that the same is true for cats. Unfortunately, good information about what balanced feline nutrition looks like has been be hard to come by. The petMD and Hill’s Cat Nutrition Center and MyBowl will change all that.
The key to good nutrition is balance. Very few ingredients are inherently good or bad as long as they are of high-quality and appropriate to the species in question; but we (and our cats) tend to get into trouble when we overdo it in one category at the expense of another. Take, for instance, one of my favorite "essential nutrients" — chocolate. Research has shown that a small amount of dark chocolate is actually good for us, but too much will negate these health benefits and puts us at risk for weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more. Now, the human analogies can be taken too far (don’t start feeding your cat chocolate!), but the basic principal of balance holds true.
This is why MyBowl is a circle that is divided into sections that always add up to 100%. Thinking of your cat’s diet in this way will help you understand the concept of balanced nutrition. If you add a little to one of the wedges you have to take a little away from another. Each category has its benefits and potential risks, and the trick is dividing the bowl up into just the right proportions. This is especially important for cats. After all, we tend to feed them the same food for extended periods of time, and if that food isn’t balanced, watch out!
Using the MyBowl tool is an interactive experience. As you roll your mouse over the bowl, important information about each section will pop up. Highlights include:
- Proteins for muscle growth, maintenance, and energy.
- Fats and oils for energy, vitamin absorption, nervous system health and taste.
- Carbohydrates for energy, fiber, and to provide a natural source of vitamins and minerals.
- Minerals for growth, tissue maintenance and overall general health.
- Vitamins for immune system functioning, antioxidant activity and overall general health.
- And finally, a bowl of water to emphasize the importance of proper hydration.
MyBowl can be used to analyze your cat’s current diet and to compare products that are offered by different manufacturers. Check it out. Your might be surprised at what you find!
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: Africa Studio / via Shutterstock