Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health. Equipped with basic knowledge, you will find that providing the best possible nutrition for your cat is neither difficult nor complex.
It is essential that cats have access to clean fresh water at all times, regardless of the nature of the diet. Cats are obligate carnivores. This means they must eat meat, including poultry and fish) to satisfy their uniquely high protein requirement, and to obtain essential substances, such as the amino acid taurine, which they are unable to manufacture from non meat foods.
Cats cannot live on meat alone, but require many nutrients that are supplied in proper balance in good commercial cat foods. Manufactured cat foods are safe and wholesome. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration specify ingredients and processes manufacturers must use and regulate claims in labels.
The association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets nutritional adequacy standards. So, when choosing food, examine labels for this information:
1. "Complete and balanced," means that all essential nutrients are present in proper proportions;
2. A declaration that the product meets AAFCO standards;
3. The life stage statement indicates the target group for the food: "all life stages" or "adult maintenance";
4. Animal protein sources, including poultry or fish, will head the list of dry food ingredients or, in canned food, immediately follow water. Ingredients appear in descending order by weight.
Cat foods sold in grocery stores may seem less expensive than premium brands, which are generally available only from pet stores, feed stores or veterinarians. But premium brands usually offer several important advantages.
Ounce for ounce, the high quality ingredients in premium foods deliver more energy, are more completely digested and absorbed, and yield less waste, so can be fed in smaller portions.
Good commercial cat foods are complete, balances and easy to feed. Cats live far longer today than 50 years ago, at least in part because of advances in feline nutrition. Discard leftover wet food and wash dishes after every meal. Wash and refill dry food dishes and water bowls at least once a day.
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