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Cat tales: Kibbles and nibbles

January 04, 2014

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Compared to humans, cats need to eat a lot of meat to meet their protein and fat needs — that is to grow and to keep warm

WHEN my human is enjoying her steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, I rub my head on her arm, I stare at her and I must confess, that sometimes I even whine like a dog.

In the end, she might just dip her finger in her oatmeal and give me a lick or two. It is yummy. Why she doesn’t let me have a whole bowl full of oatmeal for myself is because she says cats are carnivores or meat lovers. Eating bread or oatmeal would make me fat or give me the horrible disease called diabetes. That’s the most important thing to keep in mind when considering what to feed your cat because just like humans, us cats can have weight issues too. It is difficult for cats to lose weight once they have become fat.

When it comes to the kind of food our bodies need, us cats are different from humans and dogs. Compared to humans, cats need to eat a lot of meat to meet their protein and fat needs — that is to grow and to keep warm. Did you know that if humans ate like cats, they would get heart disease very early in life?

A lot of people treat their cats like dogs that can eat a variety of foods. Dog food is bad for cats because it is specially made to meet the needs of a dog’s body, which are very different from what a cat needs.

Now here is a tip, when choosing cat food at the store, please ignore terms like ‘gourmet’, ‘premium’,’ ‘super-premium’ and ‘natural’, which are just attractive terms to humans and don’t mean much for cat nutrition.

Should you feed your cat wet food or dry food? The protein in dry food or kibbles is often heavily plant-based, or made out of corn and will give your cat the same quality of strength that the protein in canned food will give because it is made out of animal sources, like meat and bones. Make sure that the food you are giving to your cat has enough water, enough protein and little or no carbohydrate — which is stuff that bread and pasta are made of.

Since plant protein is cheaper, cat food companies use that to make kibbles instead of animal protein. Which is why however much we enjoy eating crunchy kibbles, it is not very good for us.

Liver is quite a favourite with my friends Jolie, Simbu, Cookie and Jojo, but it should be fed only in small amounts and not as the main portion of the meal.

Some cats like raw food, others prefer cooked food. Raw food may contain bacteria. But with cooked food, boiling and heating takes away the nutrition. Once you’ve made your choice, let us cats do a taste test. If we cats like the food, lick our dish clean and don’t have any tummy upsets, it means it works for us.

But, if your cat has issues, be ready with other options. Remember, we are not like dogs and we can go on hunger strikes rather than eat something we don’t like. Now my friend Pixie is a fussy eater and only likes to eat meat pulled off chicken drumsticks. Give her chicken mince or chicken breast meat and she will not eat it. Hunger strikes are dangerous as they make your cat weak and unhealthy.

If you do need to switch from one food to another, introduce the new food gradually, in small amounts over a week.

How much food do we need? It depends on whether your cat is an outdoor cat or an indoor cat like me, who does some sneaky little trips outside when no one is watching. The vet can give you best advice on that because he would know what your cat’s needs are.

We like to eat small meals throughout the day and it’s nice to have some food left out in the dish which I can nibble after naps. Enough talk about food, I’m off to get a snack.