How to Choose the Right Cat Food
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Nutritional Needs for Your Cat
Good nutrition is as important to your cat as it is to you, but her nutritional needs are quite different! Unlike humans, a cat needs a high-fat diet with less fibre. Even if you prefer a vegetarian diet, you should understand that cats are carnivores. They need nutrients from animal protein and fat for optimal health, and they benefit from fibre for a healthy digestive tract and carbohydrates for energy.
Life Stage and Lifestyle
With thousands of pet foods available, how do you pick the one that's right for your cat?
Start by identifying the cat's life stage and lifestyle. Kittens, nursing mothers, and mature/senior pets are examples of life stages, and each has different nutritional requirements. All cat foods should state which life stage they are recommended for.
Nutritional needs also vary depending on lifestyle. A cat whose primary activity is guarding the couch doesn't need as much energy as one who likes to spend time roaming outside.
Finally, it is important to take into account any special medical condition your cat may have, including food allergies that might require a special diet recommended by your veterinarian.
Dry or Wet Cat Food?
Once you've determined your cat's life stage and lifestyle needs, decide whether to feed dry or wet food. Most cats thrive on only dry food. This type of food promotes oral hygiene and health through abrasive action. Some cats, especially finicky eaters, enjoy the smooth and wet texture of canned or pouch foods.
Remember that, while dry food can be left in a bowl all day, wet food should be thrown away after 30 minutes if not eaten. Dry food is the best choice for busy people who are not normally home during the day.
Once you know your pet's nutritional needs and your pet's preference, you are ready to go shopping.
Because cats need the nutrients found in animal sources, it’s best to pick a food in which a primary ingredient (one of the first ones listed) is an animal-based protein source such as chicken, lamb, fish, egg, or one of their by-products. These ingredients contain all the essential amino acids, including taurine, which isn’t found in a vegetable-based protein source.
Using a combination of carbohydrates in a diet, such as corn meal or barley and grain sorghum, ensures efficient absorption and helps maintain energy levels. And beet pulp is an excellent fibre source that promotes a healthy digestive tract.
For a soft, thick coat and healthy skin, your pet needs fatty acids like those found in vitamin-rich fish oils and quality fat sources such as chicken.
Cat food labels provide limited information on the nutritional value of your pet's food because labeling regulations do not allow manufacturers to describe the quality of ingredients on the package. A reputable pet food manufacturer can explain to you how they evaluate and assure the quality of their products.
When choosing food, the price on the bag, while important, is usually not the best consideration. A low price may indicate cheap ingredients, or ingredients that change as manufacturer costs fluctuate.
In addition, many lower-priced products have higher daily portions to provide the same amount of nutrition found in a high-quality diet. To get a better idea of cost, it is the cost per feeding, not the total cost, that counts.
To figure cost per feeding, divide the total cost by the number of days the product lasts. For example, a 20-lb bag of food that costs $18.99 and lasts 30 days is $0.63 per day. A 20-lb bag that costs $15.99 and lasts 20 days costs $0.80 per day. When compared closely, high-quality pet foods are quite favourable to other brands.
- adp_description_block232Your Cat’s Language: What Meows, Chirps and Yowls Mean
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Listen up, Mom or Dad, because your feline definitely has something to say. Cats use more than 100 different vocal sounds to communicate. Here are nine of the most common sounds you’ll hear and what your cat’s unique language means.
While your cat’s purrs are usually a sign that they’re happy, comfortable or content, it’s important to point out that your cat might also purr when they are anxious, agitated or sick — because purring soothes them. The key to figuring out if it’s a “worry purr” is to check if their ears are folded back, if they seem tense or if they just aren’t acting normal. (If that’s the case, call the vet and grab the cat carrier.)
Why do cats meow? It’s simple: It’s their way of communicating with us!
Meows are your cat’s most common “word,” and every one means something different. For example, your cat might meow to greet you when you come home, to ask you to open your bedroom door so they can curl up on your pillow, or to say, “I’d like some more tasty kibble or a second serving of IAMS® PERFECT PORTIONS™ paté, s’il vous plaît.”
Chirps and Trills
Chirps and trills are the loving language of cat mothers. Chirps, or chirrups, are staccato, bird-like sounds mother cats use to say to their kittens, “Follow me.” Trills are higher-pitched chirps your cat uses to say hello or “Pay attention to me.” When your cat directs these sounds at you, chances are they want you to give them some love or follow them somewhere, usually to their food or water bowl. (Shocker, LOL.)
If you have more than one feline fur baby, listen closely. You’ll likely hear your cats talk to each other with these sounds.
When your kitty spies an unsuspecting bird or squirrel frolicking outside the window, they might make a chattering sound at it. This distinctive, repetitive clicking noise is caused by a combination of lip smacking and your cat rapidly vibrating their lower jaw. This odd behavior looks like teeth chattering, and a lot of cats also chirp when they chatter.
This clickety sound is thought to be a mix of predatory excitement and frustration at not being able to get to the elusive feathered or furry prize. Some animal behaviorists even think the sound mimics a fatal bite used to break the bones of their prey. Who knew your li’l feline was so ferocious?!
Regardless of the exact reason cats chatter or chirp at birds and other small animals, most feline parents find it fascinating and amusing to watch.
The unmistakable sound of a cat hissing is like a steak hitting a hot skillet, and it can only mean one thing: Your cat feels threatened and will put up a fight if they have to. Just as important as the hissing sound, however, is the cat body language that comes with it. Your cat will flatten their ears, arch their back, puff their fur, twitch their tail and usually open their mouth to flash their fangs — aka the classic defensive pose.
Snarls and Growls
In addition to a hiss, if your cat makes a deep, guttural growlsound, they’re saying, “Back off.” Similar to a dog’s growl, this noise means your cat is annoyed, scared or angry. Some cats even make short, higher-pitched snarl sounds before launching into a full-blown growl.
While these sounds usually signify an unhappy cat, it’s important to note that some cats growl because they’re in pain from an injury or a health problem. If you suspect this is the case, a trip to the vet is in order.
If your feline snarls or growls at you for any reason, though, it’s best to leave your feisty friend alone.
A yowl, or howl, is a long, drawn-out meow that almost sounds like moaning; it’s your cat’s way of telling you they’re worried or distressed, or that they need you. They might have gotten locked in a closet, can’t find you anywhere or, heaven forbid, have discovered their food bowl is empty. Your cat might also yowl when they don’t feel well or when a new neighborhood cat trespasses on their turf.
Whatever the reason, make sure you immediately help your cat whenever you hear a yowl. Trust us — you’ll both be glad you did.
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