A Balanced Diet and Exercise

We all know how important food is...

Cat Food Information

I've got to be honest--every cat my family has ever owned has turned into a fat cat. I wouldn't say I'm proud of that, but I will mention that all of our cats have lived to be close to 20 years old (in human years!) obese cat I recently visited home and was taken aback at the size of one of my cats. He is about 15 pounds, which is very heavy for a cat. I didn't even recognize him at first (see picture to right). That is the same cat that is pictured in the far right corner in the top banner! How's that for a shocker?

So if you don't want a fat cat like mine, let's talk about why what your cat eats is just as important as what you eat.

Logically, a cat needs to eat and drink every day. cat eating It's important to make sure a cat has continual access to fresh water, so leave a bowl where your cat can easily find it, and refill it regularly. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, a cat's body is made up of about 70 percent water. That statistic speaks for itself in noting the importance of making sure your cat has water.

As far as food, Banfield states the importance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals in a cat's diet. Carbohydrates give cats energy and spur physical activity. Fats give energy as well, and they help a cat's body absorb nutrients. Obviously too many fats can be a bad thing, though, so it's important to find a dry cat food that doesn't have an excessive amount of fats. Proteins help the cat's physical appearance: skin, nails and coat. They help maintain the immune system, too. Minerals such as calcium and phosphorus strengthen a cat's bones, and antioxidant vitamins E and C are crucial for the immune system during stressful times.

cat in fridge

Some cat owners tend to let their cats "free feed," which means they leave dry food out at all times. Other owners feed them only at certain points during the day in order to prevent obesity. It's really up to the owner, but cats can become irritable if they are not satisfied with the amount of food being given to them. Most packages of dry cat food have a suggested amount to feed cats based on their ideal weight. I've found that these are helpful guidelines to follow.

bag of Purina

Premium cat foods are recommended, but that can get expensive. There are some cheaper alternatives that still contain additional vitamins and minerals. Some are made with whole grains and leafy greens, which are just as important for a cat's diet as they are for a human's. A good mix of all of these would be Purina Naturals Plus Vitamins & Minerals, which can be purchased for around $5 a bag. For the typical college student, that's about all one can take!

Feeding cats table scraps is not recommended by Banfield, as it can lead to obesity or an upset stomach. However, some cats don't seem to be adversely affected by it. Afterall, it helps to build a special bond between cat and human! Just don't let it lead to begging!

Wet cat food, which is usually canned, can be used to supplement a cat's diet or can be used as a treat every now and then. When cats get old in age, though, wet food may be all they can handle.

Danger Zone - Pet Food Recalls

While we'd like to think that what we are feeding our cats off supermarket shelves is completely safe, the truth is that pet food can contain harmful ingredients and may be recalled. You have to be up-to-date on your current events to protect the health of yourself and your cats.

To search whether a certain food has been recalled, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site. And to read the most updated information about pet food recalls, visit the U.S. FDA page about it.

Cats need to exercise, too!

Just like most of us, cats can't sit around all day without physical activity and stay super thin. Sure, they spend most of their hours sleeping, but when they are awake, it's important that they are physically active.

cat playing

In the image to the right, there is a simple example of what it means for a cat to exercise. My favorite toy to use with my cat (and it's her favorite toy now, too) is a long wand with feathers on the end. I just wave it around in the air and on the ground, and she goes nuts! She jumps around and walks on two feet instead of four. She chases and pounces. That's like us doing sprints and jump roping! Trust me--that is exercise! And it's fun for you, too! I think spending this time with your cat will make you both happier in the end!

And this site recommends using a laser pointer, fake mice or catnip to enhance a cat's playtime (a.k.a. exercise time). Throwing a ball that makes noise when shaken or pulling a piece of string along the ground will definitely entertain your cat, too!

See what a cat adoption screener suggests...

April Tubbs, an adoption screener at Pet Rescue By Judy in Sanford, Fla., said that 10 to 20 minutes of playing each day helps owners build a bond with their cat. She said it also gives cats a chance to "stretch their legs beyond normal wanderings from nap spot to nap spot."

And, it keeps them from getting into trouble!

"A bored cat is a cat just looking to get into something they aren't supposed to," she said "This is particularly true with kittens, which is why we encourage adopting kittens in pairs. Always having a playmate minimizes--not alleviates, but minimizes--kitten destruction."

Tubbs also was adamant about the importance of owners not ignoring their cat.

"There is this common misconception that cats are independent and aloof, and this is true in certain instances but not most," she said "Cats like your company. Talk to your cat. Play with your cat. Treat your cat like a member of your household. It is amazing how much attention can minimize undesirable behavior."

To the frequent college student who comes to this shelter seeking the companionship of a cat, Tubbs asserts that owning a cat is just as much of a commitment as owning a dog.

"It's a different kind of commitment but still a commitment," she said. "And sometimes it can be tough because cats are sensitive. They don't like change. They don't always enjoy the company of lots of people and other animals, and they will act out. Just be willing to work with them, and I promise you: They do respond."

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