Responsible cat owners want to provide the right amount of nutrition and intrinsic care to ensure their pet a long and healthy life. Like all other animals, cats have basic needs that only require an active and consistent interest from owners to avoid adverse health conditions and provide a stable environment for their cat.
Domestic cats have three basic requirements that lead to optimum conditions for good health. First, they need a clean, safe environment that protects them from wild animals, stray pets, and road hazards. Indoor cats are also less susceptible to dangers from diseases spread through eating dead prey.
Second, they require a sensible diet that gives them an adequate amount of protein, minerals, nutrients, and calories. Cats are carnivorous animals; they require a certain amount of animal-based protein that contains essential amino acids they cannot produce themselves. As such, commercial food (wet or dry) can be supplemented with raw meat and bones for healthy teeth.
There is, of course, the danger of too much nutrition as well. Cats will eat and digest small amounts of food evenly over a twenty-four hour period, and can safely be fed small portions more than once a day to maintain a healthy weight. Portion control is critical to avoid overeating, as overweight cats develop lethargy and are at a higher risk for diabetes and osteoarthritis.
Commercial food should be relatively low in pH levels, to avoid a buildup of magnesium in the diet that contributes to kidney stones, and have no more than ten percent fiber to make it easier to digest.
An owner should also closely monitor water levels over a twenty-four hour period to make sure their cat is drinking enough. Between sixty and seventy percent of a cat’s body weight is water, and as little as a fifteen percent decrease in water is enough to kill a cat. Canned cat food contains seventy to eighty percent water and may be used to supplement fresh water intake, if necessary.
Amino acids protect cats from dangerous health conditions. Arginine, for example, helps remove potentially toxic levels of ammonia from a cat’s system. A deficiency in taurine contributes to a host of health issues including deafness, blindness, congenital defects, and reduced immunity. These supplements are only present in animal proteins, not in plants. This is one reason why vegetarian diets are not appropriate for cats.
Finally, cats need a health care plan that includes regular vaccinations, parasite control, grooming, and a sanitary area to eliminate waste. This should include a litter box that is regularly maintained and free from excess waste material. Fleas, ticks, and worms are the most common parasites for cats and dogs. Feline leukemia, rabies, upper respiratory infections,
Other considerations include regular grooming (especially for longhaired cats, to avoid matted fur and knots), nail care. Declawing is an unnecessary in most cases and causes long-term behavioral and physical health issues. If leaving for vacation, make sure you have an alternate caregiver assigned that can make sure your cat is getting what it needs.