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Cat's Diet

What do you do if your cat is a fussy eater?

I am sure that most cat owners have been in this frustrating situation. You may be surprised to learn that, providing they are given good food, it is not a natural part of a healthy cats behaviour to refuse food. Most of the cats fussiness is a learned response to our over pampering.

I have done it myself. Pussy turns its nose-up at some tasty morsel that you have brought back from your weekly hunt around the local supermarket. What do you do!? Feeling a little shamed that your choice has been met with utter contempt, you proceed to open an array of goodies, which probably includes a can of wild salmon, until his/her majesty is satisfied with your final offering, but only after much suspicious sniffing and scrabbing. Next week your back in the supermarket again and join the throngs of cat owners all pondering what treats may be offered up this time. Here, at the shrine to the fickle feline, the often repeated mantra may be heard " oh my cat wont eat that, he/she is a fussy eater and will only eat..........(you fill in the blank !) Hard as it may be to accept, you (and I) are the problem.

I know that it is very difficult, but if you finding your cats fussy eating habits hard to cope with, then a fairly harsh regime may have to be resorted to. Try the following

20 minuets and up

Give your cat food that you know it has eaten before. If after 20 minuets the cat still refuses the food then take the dish away. Do not, under any circumstances, give treats, snacks or other food stuff in lieu of the main meal. At the next feeding time, replace the dish and repeat the process. Repeat again at subsequent meals. Other tricks for the fussy eater

Always keep to a strict time table for meals. Feed only twice a day. Do not feed straight from the fridge, cats like food at body temperature Lightly cover the discarded food with a preferred option If you have more than one cat, try feeding it in a separate room, some cats prefer this. Move the food away from the cat litter tray, its not nice to eat in the loo!

Now comes a major battle of wills ! Keep this up for at least 24 hours, be strong. Do not give in. It will do your cat no harm to miss a few meals. Water should always be available. Some would advise to keep up this starvation method for longer than 24 hours, I don't know that this is wise and would prefer not to put my cat through this. However you may want to try giving half the quantity of a food they will eat. Hunger is a great incentive and compromise may be reached.

If your cat has a long bout of not eating and seems out of sorts, you should refer to your vet for qualified advise.

Should pussy be a veggie ?

I am a vegetarian. There, I've come straight out with it! But I promise there are no other revelations or confessions forthcoming. Although it no longer brings gasps of horror or that accusing look that confirms you as a bit of a weirdo. Some people still like to point a wagging finger in my direction and make a barbed comment about how a vegetarian, animal lover can tolerate their animals meat eating habits, shame on me! Well, while I am in a straight talking kind of mood, let me make my position on this matter clear. Unlike dogs, cats have quite specific dietary needs. Whilst it is possible to feed a cat a vegetarian or even vegan diet, it should be remembered that domestic cats are from the same evolutionary branch as their wild cousins, tigers, lions, panthers etc.,etc. and these creatures are carnivores, 'obligate carnivores' if you want to get all technical. This means that they must eat meat which provides the nutrients a cat requires. Lack of these nutrients could lead to serious illness and death. In short, meat eating is natural cat behaviour. Changing your companions diet may suit your sensibilities but not your cats health and should, therefore, be very carefully considered. Also, pussy may not be happy about the change and may instinctively hunt birds and other small prey to supplement. So, what does all this mean. Well, at the risk of offending my vegetarian sisters and brothers. It does not bother me in the slightest that my cats, or dog for that matter, eat meat. However, in a attempt to be even-handed about the subject, I offer the following. I would welcome any comments, good or bad.

What a cat needs

Taurine ~ very necessary for cats, lack of this amino acid can lead to blindness. As far as I know the only source rich in this nutrient is meat. Vitamin A (retinol) ~ again the richest source for this is meat, although lesser quantities are found in dairy products and eggs. Vitamin B12 ~ unable to produce their own cats get this nutrient from animal products Thiamine ~ a common deficiency in cats. Often lost in the processing of cat food. Niacin ~ unable to produce this in significant quantities, cats need to acquire this from rich sources such as meat. Arachidonic acid ~ an essential fatty acid, meat is a major source. Protein ~ at over 25% of a cats diet a vegetarian diet is unlikely to provide this nutrient in great enough quantities.

Meat, meat, meat. What about the alternatives ?

For those who find this incompatible with their life philosophy there are alternatives. A word of caution though. I am not indorsing these products and professional advise should be sought from your vet should you choose to proceed. Apparently there are some very good products on the market that I will not mention by name because I have no actual experience of them.

These products use highly concentrated nutrients from non-animal sources. Some are synthetically produced and are added to standard cat food to replace nutrients destroyed during processing.

Going vegi It is very important that you make the change slowly. Changes in diet can cause all sorts of stomach upsets such as diarrhoea and vomiting also the cat may just refuse to eat anything at all. The wisest course may be to introduce the new food by mixing it with the old then gradually increase the new and reduce the old. Watch your cat very carefully. Should there be any signs of discomfort or distress seek the advise of your vet immediately.

Occasional foods (unconfirmed by me!)

Cucumber ~ provides liquid. Peel the cucumber first, the skin may not agree with pussy. Tomato juice ~ helps with cystitis Also ... peas ~ asparagus ~ celery ~ broccoli ~ green beans and durian fruit (?)

If, on the other hand, it is just the look of meat based foods that is the big turn-off for you, Then seek out one of the many very good dried products on the market.

Please consider Whatever your ethical or life philosophy may be is your own. It is not for anyone to judge you for that, I would not and could not. But I do urge, that the well being of your cat (or any animal in your charge) should be your primary concern. Remember it is natural cat behaviour to eat meat and that, unfortunately, is just the way of things, nature in the raw if you like. If a vegetarian/vegan diet does not suit your cat then you should consider that fact that a cat may not be the best companion for you.

Jenny Harper:

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