Your Cat's Nutritional Needs

It may not seem as though your cat is doing much when he is lounging near a sunny window for hours on end, but he's burning energy - and a lot of it - all day. In fact, your lap cat needs more energy-producing nutrients, like protein, than most dogs do in order to stay healthy and active.

Changing Needs

As your kitten reaches adulthood, his nutritional needs change. He needs less protein and fat and fewer calories. You can switch your cat to an adult food when he's one year old.  When you switch to a new food, do it gradually. Over a two-week period mix in more and more of the new food as you decrease the amount of his original food.

So What Should You Feed Your Cat?

The short answer: Pick a premium food formulated for your adult or older cat. Most premium pet food manufacturers invest considerable time and money researching the best formula for cats and performing feeding trials. These trials test cats who eat the food to make sure they're getting the balanced nutrition they need to keep them healthy.  And while different brands of premium products may include a different mix of nutrients, all contain high-quality ingredients, which is one of the most important factors in choosing an adult cat's food.

Remember, when you're choosing a pet food, you generally get what you pay for. More expensive products are usually made from higher-quality ingredients, which means your cat can digest the food more easily and retain more nutritional value from each bite. And because your pet eats less when it's a high-quality product, you'll have less work when you go to clean the litter box.

Not sure if your cat's food measures up? The better the diet, the better your pet should look. One good sign is a shiny, silky coat with no dry skin.
If your older cat develops such health problems as kidney or intestinal disease, your veterinarian may suggest a premium therapeutic diet that's specially formulated to improve your pet's health.
Protein is Key
Unlike the omnivorous dog, the cat is a carnivore, or meat eater. What does that mean? Your kitty needs a whole lot of meat-based protein every day. And because he metabolizes protein and fat so efficiently, he needs them to make up a big chunk of his diet.
Cats also need certain essential amino acids that their bodies can't produce. One of the most important of these is taurine.
Taurine deficiency can cause serious health problems in cats, including cardiomyopathy (or weakened heart muscle disease), reproductive disorders, and retinal degeneration and blindness. Feeding your kitty a premium food is your best insurance against taurine deficiency because premium food manufacturers make sure their brands give your cat the taurine levels he needs - plus the right amounts of many other nutrients.
Avoid Magnesium
High levels of magnesium are a special concern because too much magnesium can contribute to feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which can cause painful urination, blood in the urine, and in severe cases, urethral blockage - a life-threatening condition if not treated quickly.
Fortunately, you can take simple steps to help keep your cat safe from FLUTD. Providing premium foods, clean litter boxes, and lots of fresh water reduces your cat's chances of developing this painful and potentially fatal disease.
Dog Food Just Won't Do
If you're running low on your cat's favorite chow, don't reach for your pooch's food. Why? Dog food doesn't contain enough protein or the right amino acids - including taurine. And the magnesium levels are too high for your feline friend.
No need to panic, though, if you catch your pouncer snacking at the dog's bowl. Just discourage the habit and make sure he eats plenty of his own food.
Reprinted with permission by Petco