PhotoMany people feed their dogs like they feed their family. I have a sister who buys her Maltese a cooked chicken from Costco each week. She cooks for her dog like it was one of her kids.

If she had a cat it might not turn out too well. Nutrition for cats is a little more complicated than it is for dogs. Cats are carnivores. They need a lot of meat for protein and for fat.

"If we ate like cats, we'd have heart disease by age 20," said Louise Murray, DVM, vice president of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York. She says that cats aren't like dogs nor are they like humans.

Because people don't know better they treat their cats like their dogs and think they can throw them random leftovers as they do their dogs. Some people even feed their cats dog food and that can be fatal over a period of time because cats aren't getting the proper nutrition. Dog food has a lot of carbs in it and cats can't digest them well.

Cats also have trouble with obesity and carbs tend to pack on the pounds which in turn can make a cat susceptible to diabetes.

"Feeding cats correctly is definitely a ʻpay me now or pay me laterʼ issue," said veterinarian Lisa A. Pierson on her website, catinfo.org.

High on the list is water. Cats need water and are prone to kidney problems without it, although cats themselves are not too aware of this.

"Cats do not have a very strong thirst drive when compared to other species. Therefore, it is critical for them to ingest a water-rich diet. Think of canned food as flushing your cat's urinary tract several times a day," Pierson said. "This is a very important tool to keep your cat from developing urinary tract problems including life-threatening urethral blockages, infection, inflammation (cystitis), and possibly chronic kidney disease which is a leading cause of death in cats."

Too dry

Pierson is not a big fan of dry cat food. The water content is low and dry cat food is full of carbs. 

You can ask your own vet what they recommend for your cat. Many factors will decide how and what you should feed them. Does your cat just stay indoors or is it a more active outdoor cat? Has it been spayed or neutered? These can affect the nutrition needs of your pet. Again your vet is your best guideline.

When you are picking your cat's food look for the label that says it meets the standards set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). That ensures that the food meets at least the minimum nutritional needs of your cat.


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