Educational Articles

Cats + Diet & Nutrition

  • Infertility in a queen (an intact female cat) is defined as the inability to give birth to live kittens, despite appropriate breeding with a fertile male. This handout provides an outline of common causes of infertility along with how they are diagnosed and, when possible, treated.

  • Once a pet has lost some weight, the new goal is to make sure that excess weight stays off. Pet parents who partner with their veterinary health care team for support and who focus on changing their behaviors often have the most success. Examples of some changes include using a different food or a different feeding method, focusing more on portion control, and incorporating some movement or activity time into each day. This article addresses several commonly asked questions about how to help a pet during the maintenance phase (after the weight has been lost).

  • Picky eaters are often created by their humans offering too much variety of food. Cats can become picky eaters for medical reasons that need to be determined by your veterinarian. It is safe for an otherwise healthy cat to not eat for a few days; beyond this however, they can develop a possibly fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis. To decrease pickiness, having food available for only 30 minutes4-5 times a day can be beneficial. Human food should not be used as a diet as it will lead to nutrient deficiencies. Certain foods are okay to mix with cat food to make them more appealing but check with veterinarian before including these in your dog’s diet. Many cats work on their own schedule and prefer to eat very small amounts frequently (grazing).

  • A nutraceutical is a food or food product that reportedly provides health and/or medical benefits. In addition to diet modifications, exercise, weight loss, and medications, joint support nutraceuticals are also helpful in an osteoarthritis management program. Nutraceuticals are not subjected to the same testing and regulation as pharmaceuticals. Your veterinarian can advise you on products that have been evaluated and have yielded positive effects.

  • Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot be vegetarian. Through evolution, cats have become dependent on the specific forms of nutrients found only in animal tissue. Feeding your cat a proper diet is one of the most important aspects to help keep them at optimal health. It is important to keep in mind that the nutritional requirements and dietary preferences change over the course of the cat's lifetime. Your veterinary health care team can help you make good-quality diet choices and determine the correct number of calories your cat needs in a day.

  • Nutritional changes can improve the management and treatment of pancreatic diseases in cats. Diet type and pancreatitis in cats may not be as crucial as in dogs. Diet factors for managing pancreatitis, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, diabetes mellitus, and insulinoma are discussed. Recommendations for feeding diabetic cats and approaching hypoglycemia are also described.

  • Chronic kidney disease is frequently diagnosed in aging cats. Nutrition plays an important role in managing CKD in cats. Commercial diets for cats with CKD are developed support kidney function while maintaining body condition. A kidney support diet contains less protein, sodium, and phosphorus and increased omega-3 fatty acids. Your veterinarian will help you choose an appropriate formulation for your cat which will slow the progression of this disease, contributing to both life expectancy and quality of life.

  • Like dogs and people, cats are susceptible to age-related brain changes associated with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). Behavioral changes such as excessive vocalization at night, having bathroom accidents, and increased anxiety are often associated with CDS, but a thorough examination must be completed to ensure that another medical reason is not the cause of the behavioral changes. Supportive care with environmental enrichment, nutritional support, medical management if indicated, and careful monitoring of progression of CDS can help slow the progression of disease, as no cure for CDS currently exists.

  • Nutrition is very important in managing cats with diabetes mellitus. Achieving a lean body condition is associated with better glucose control and an increased chance of remission. Other factors in dietary management of diabetes mellitus are discussed.

  • The optimal diet varies from species to species, and contains an ideal ratio of the major essential nutrients of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as adequate levels of trace nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. While a recipe for a home-cooked diet may appear to come from a knowledgeable source, ideas about what constitutes the ideal diet for dogs and cats is currently evolving. Your veterinarian can help ensure that your pet's diet is appropriate and healthy.