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The Animal, the Diet, and the Environment
At first glance, feeding cats seems like it should be a relatively simple endeavor. An owner picks out the best cat food that offers balanced nutrition, made from quality ingredients, and places it in front of the cat. He or she promptly eats it and all is well. In actuality, making sure that a cat’s nutritional needs are met depends on three interconnected variables: the animal, the diet and the environment.
1. The Diet
If you own a healthy, adult cat, use the MyBowl tool to make sure that the cat food you’ve selected is balanced and made from quality ingredients.
2. The Cat
If your cat has a medical condition, talk to your veterinarian about appropriate dietary options. Once you have the right cat food picked out, evaluate the way that the environment might be playing a role in his or her health and nutritional status.
Cats that are stressed and/or sick do not eat well. Even if you have chosen the best cat food, it will not do any good if the cat is not eating it. Studies have shown that cats that were stressed by seemingly mundane things such as cold temperatures, altered schedules, rearranged furnishings, loud noises, or an absence of hiding spots or perches, vomited, brought up hairballs, failed to use the litter box, ate poorly, and avoided social interactions. These symptoms of illness all disappeared when the cats’ stress levels returned to normal.
Lifestyle is another example of a variable that has a direct effect on a cat’s health and nutritional needs. A study found that indoor confinement, low physical activity and a low intake of dry food were all associated with an increased risk for the development of diabetes mellitus. So, while picking out the right cat food is undoubtedly very important, don’t neglect the impact that the cat’s lifestyle has on its nutritional needs.
The take home message from the previously mentioned study is not that cats should live outdoors, but that indoor-only cats need to be kept physically active to prevent weight gain and lessen the risk of developing diabetes mellitus. Relying on nutritionally sound food alone will not necessarily keep your cat healthy.