You are what you eat – and your cat is what he eats! What you feed your cat has a remarkable impact on his health, and some feeding mistakes can actually have huge health consequences in the long term. If you want your cat to stay healthy and happy throughout his lifetime, here are three big feeding mistakes to avoid.
Feeding a Vegan Diet
You might choose to eat a vegan diet for health reasons or to preserve the environment. That's a decision you've made for yourself, and many medical experts agree that a vegan diet can be healthy choice for humans. But cats, unlike humans, are not designed to be omnivores or to eat a plant-based diet. They are true carnivores, and their bodies are designed to thrive on a meat-based diet. Feeding your cat a vegan diet is very likely to lead to a deficiency in the amino acid taurine, which is essential for ongoing health. Your cat may also develop a protein deficiency or a deficiency in B vitamins. Many cats have died from deficiencies like these after being fed a vegan diet by their owners, so this is not a risk you should take.
Feeding Seasoned Meats
A little poached chicken or beef can be a good addition to your cat's diet once in a while, especially if your cat is feeling a bit under the weather and isn't interested in his normal cat food. But feeding your cat meat that you've prepared for yourself may be an entirely different story, particularly if you've seasoned the meat with ingredients like onions and garlic. These – and many other seasonings – are harmful to cats and can cause serious digestive upset and allergic reactions. Stick to unseasoned meats, only, if you wish to give your cat "human food."
Pet owners are sometimes conditioned to think that if their cat is a little overweight, it means they're loved and cared for. However, while you don't want your cat to be too thin, you don't want to overfeed him to the point that he becomes overweight, either. Overweight cats are at risk for heart attacks and diabetes, just like humans. Carrying around extra weight is also a burden on older, arthritic joints. Use this calculator to determine if your cat is at a healthy weight. If he is, stick to what you're currently feeding to maintain that weight. If your cat is overweight, talk to a veterinarian like Robert Irelan DVM about how much you should be feeding your cat to encourage some weight loss.