Five Freedoms: 1. Freedom from hunger or thirst

Five Freedoms: 1. Freedom from hunger or thirst

October 30th, 2019 by Scottsdale Cat Clinic

We all know the story of the cat who gets fed by one person in the household,
and then goes and meows at another person in the house to be fed again. Many
cats love to eat, but good nutrition is more than just putting down food and water
when your cat begs. We must provide the proper quality as well as quantity of
foods in addition to ready access to water. Most cats could get by for years with
generic kibble poured into a bowl with a connected water dish refilled each day.
However, we can provide much better options to keep our feline family healthy
and happy.

Part 1: freedom from hunger
Choosing a food for your cat is increasingly becoming a very difficult part of being
a cat parent. There is an overwhelming amount of marketing and advertising that
can often be misleading or not the full truth. This can make it confusing to choose
what food to buy. The best foods are ones that have been tested by being fed to
cats and then testing the health of those cats. Many foods are formulated to
meet the minimum standards but they have not been tested on actual cats to see
how well the nutrients within the food are absorbed and used by the body. At our
clinic, we sell Royal Canin, Hills and Purina diets because these companies
spend millions of dollars each year on research for their diets, they have
veterinary nutritionists on staff, and they also follow WSAVA (World Small Animal
Veterinary Association) guidelines. The types of ingredients are important, but
the nutrients they provide are even more important. WSAVA has great questions
to ask about the food you are feeding you cat at
https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Selecting-the-
Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf

Every cat can digest and react to food differently so talk to your veterinarian
about if the diet you are feeding is best for your cat. Typically, it is best to feed
mainly canned food with a small amount of a dental kibble or chews. Cats are
carnivores and need more protein and fats and less carbohydrates. Canned food
is best at providing this. It also provides water to your cat to help maintain good
hydration and good kidney and bladder health. Cats in the wild don’t tend to
drink much water but get much of their moisture from the prey that they eat. Cats
do need some food or treats that they really have to chew to exercise and clean
their teeth.

Studies have shown that cats are typically grazers and can eat up to twenty-two
small meals per day! However, many of our indoor cats aren’t exercised enough,
and allowing them to eat however much they want whenever they want can
greatly contribute to the problem of feline obesity. Try different methods of
feeding and talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your cat given their
preferences. Many of our clients do meal feedings, where they feed a certain
amount of calories two to three times daily.

One great way to relieve stress for indoor cats and provide mental and physical stimulation is to feed them with food puzzles. Go to http://www.foodpuzzlesforcats.comor google to find lots of good options.  There can be a small learning curb with these, but most cats figure them out
quickly. Cats in the wild spend many hours hunting and catching prey and food
puzzles help to bring a little of that back into their lives.