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Care Nutrition for Cats

Care Nutrition for Cats

Just like people, all cats are unique. Their breed, size, age, weight, lifestyle and overall health are key deciding factors in how we care for them and what we feed them. Here we take a look at how care nutrition diets, also known as speciality care or special needs diets, can assist with some common feline health problems.

Supporting health conditions with care nutrition

Sometimes our cats can experience health issues like joint pain, weight concerns, sensitive skin or allergies, just like us. If they do, they may benefit from being fed a tailored diet after a proper diagnosis and nutritional recommendation by a vet. Here are some of the most common feline health issues that can be supported by care nutrition diets:

*For more specific or serious conditions (relating the above feline health issues), your vet may recommend a therapeutic vet-only diet for these health conditions.

Remember, before switching your cat’s food to a care nutrition diet, proper diagnosis is essential for finding the best specialised diet. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, talk to your local Animates Vetcare clinic for dietary advice.

Oral Health

When your cat yawns, are you seeing pearly whites or grimy yellows? Dental hygiene is important for cats because it can contribute to a long and happy life. However, many pet owners aren’t aware of the need to keep their cat’s teeth clean.

What causes feline dental disease:

Plaque is just as much of a problem for cats as it is for humans. A sticky mix of food particles, saliva and bacteria, it adheres to tooth surfaces and calcifies into tartar if it isn’t removed. Tartar also builds up below the gum line, making it difficult to see if your kitty is developing or already suffering from dental disease.

Tartar build-up can result in bad breath, oral pain, and tooth decay or tooth loss for your cat. If left untreated, severe dental diseases can lead to heart, liver and kidney problems.

The signs of dental disease in cats:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discolouration caused by plaque or tartar build-up
  • Redness or inflammation of the gum (ginigivitis)

Other signs of dental disease in cats can include pawing at the mouth; discomfort, lumps or bleeding around the mouth; and difficulty eating or loss of appetite. However, these signs could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your vet.

Tips to keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy:

  • Brushing is best! Just like in people, daily brushing cat's teeth is the best way of reducing plaque formation. Make sure to use pet-specific toothpaste as human toothpaste is harmful to pets.  However we know brushing your cats teeth can be tricky -  so the next best option is a dental care diet.
  • Regular vet checks (we recommend every six months) to help identify any development of dental disease early on.
  • When shopping for products to help with your cat’s dental health, look for the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) Seal of Approval.
  • Don’t give your cat bones to chew. Bones are often harder than your kitty’s teeth, so they can cause damage. Also, bone shards can damage your cat’s digestive tract. Stick with vet-recommended cat food.
  • Speak to your vet about feeding your cat a special dental care diet.

Dental care diets

After checking your cat’s teeth, your vet may suggest feeding your cat a dental care diet. Dental care diets can help to keep teeth clean, while still providing a complete and balanced diet. Dental care food for cats usually involves tasty biscuits that scrub off bacteria-laden plaque when your cat bites them. It’s kind of like eating toothbrushes, but tastier!

Always consult your vet before buying a dental care diet for your cat. To help you find a suitable diet to support your cat’s dental health, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Weight Management

Over half of our cats in NZ are classified as overweight or obese. Certain breeds of our felines are more inclined to become overweight as they become adults. Persian, Manx, British Shorthair, Birman and Burmese cats can become overweight, especially if they have unlimited access to food. Older cats are also less playful, so they don’t burn off the calories like they used to.

It’s important that your cat maintains a healthy weight and lifestyle, as cats at a healthy weight are less prone to develop weight related issues.

Signs that your pet may have a weight problem:

  • No obvious waist
  • Cannot feel their ribs or difficulty feeling ribs
  • Difficulty grooming
  • Sleeping more than usual

Other signs that your cat may be overweight include difficulty jumping up to high places. However, these signs could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your vet.

Weight management diets

Weight control diets provide precise nutrition for less active pets requiring a low-calorie food. By activating your cat’s metabolism and improving your cat’s calories utilisation, weight control diets to help burn calories and fat.

Identifying if your cat has a weight problem is essential for their health and is the key to preventing health risks associated with excess weight. If you think your pet may have a weight problem (including being underweight), seek advice from your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Stiff Joints and Mobility

Our nimble cats can start to slow down as they get older, and all that jumping and leaping from earlier years can cause damage to their joints. Did you know about 80% of cats are suffering from some form of arthritis at age 12? Arthritis can affect your cat’s quality of life in a number of ways; they may find it harder to jump up onto furniture, chase toys, run, groom themselves and go to the toilet, more importantly arthritis is painful.

Symptoms of arthritis

  • Stiffness or slowness when getting up from a nap
  • Difficulty grooming/matted fur
  • Reluctance to jump up on things
  • Less playfulness

Note: these symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these signs, consult with your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Joint care diets

Many mature cats can have trouble with their joints, so it’s important that you are aware of some of the ways you can help to promote joint health for your cat. Although arthritis can’t be cured, joint care and mobility diets for cats can assist with alleviating discomfort and improving the movement of affected joints. These diets often contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, along with omega-3 oils to help reduce joint inflammation and ease pain.

If you’re concerned about your feline friend’s joint health, talk to your vet to confirm whether a change in diet is required. To discuss treatment options and find the best diet for your arthritic cat, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Sensitive Skin

Cats’ skin irritations have various causes, including environmental allergies such as to dust mites, fleas, hormonal imbalances, bacterial infections, stress and more. If your cat is scratching a lot or has flaky skin patches, a trip to the vet will confirm what’s causing the problem. Along with treatment, your vet may suggest a diet to support feline friend’s skin health.

Signs of a skin problem:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Red itchy skin
  • Patches of hair loss/thinning hair

Another sign of a skin sensitivity problem is hair loss and bald patches. However, these signs could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your vet.

Sensitive skin diets

For most cats, a nutritious, balanced diet with adequate quantities of protein made up of specific amino acids will help to support a beautiful fur coat. Some sensitive skin care diets also include omega-6 fatty acids for added shine and omega-3 fatty acids to reduce sensitivity, inflammation and dryness. Before changing your cat’s diet, talk to your vet about which skin care cat food would be best for your feline friend.

If you’re concerned about your feline friend’s skin health, talk to your vet to confirm whether a change in diet is required. To discuss treatment options, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Hairball Prevention

Cats love to groom themselves – in fact, it’s estimated that they spend a third of their waking hours grooming! To help groom themselves, cats have hook-like structures on their tongues that grip onto dead hair, bringing it into the mouth where it is eventually swallowed. Since cats cannot digest hair on their own, when enough of this ingested hair collects in a cat's digestive tract, it forms a hairball.

While vomiting up hairballs is usually not an issue, if your cat has a hairball that they can’t shift this could cause a painful digestive tract blockage.

Symptoms of hairballs may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Hacking without producing a hairball
  • Constipation or diarrhoea.

Note: These symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these signs, consult with your vet.

Hairball control diets

Food is a very important factor in reducing hairballs. If your vet diagnoses a hairball issue, they may recommend a special hairball control diet for your cat with extra natural fibre - to help the hair more through your cat's digestive system. They also have ingredients that help to nourish your cat’s skin and coat, to reduce excessive fur shedding.

If you’re concerned about your feline friend’s hairball issue, talk to your vet to confirm whether a change in diet is required. To discuss treatment options and find the best diet for your cat, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

A cat’s urinary system consists of the ureters, bladder and urethra. Problems associated with the feline urinary system include crystallised bladder stones and urinary tract infections. Bladder stones almost always require surgery to remove, as well as long-term management through special nutrition and veterinary care to prevent recurrence.

If your cat is having trouble urinating or if you notice something strange about your pet’s urine, visit a vet as soon as possible as there are some serious issues that can occur including complete blockage of the urethra.

Signs of urinary issues in cats

  • Abnormally frequent urination
  • Inappropriate urination (around the house)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Crying out while urinating
  • Excessive licking of external genitalia

Other signs of urinary problems include straining to urinate, blood in the urine and lethargy (lack of energy). Note: these symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your vet.

Urinary care diets

Urinary care diets are designed to control some of the minerals that create the crystals and stones in the urine, as well as reduce urinary pH to help create a healthy urine balance. Depending on your cat’s problem, urinary care cat food could be an important part of successful long-term management - however it is essential to get a proper diagnosis from your vet before changing your cat’s food to a urinary care diet.  

If you’re concerned about your feline friend’s urinary health, talk to your vet to confirm whether a change in diet is required. For diet and treatment recommendations, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Digestive Disorders

Digestive discomfort is no fun for anyone, including your pet. Digestive problems can prevent proper digestion or change the rate at which food passes through your cat’s digestive tract. Some of the more common causes of digestive disorders and stomach problems affecting cats include:

  • Stress from territory disputes or moving house
  • Irritable bowel disease (IBD)
  • Excessive growth of bacteria in your pet’s intestines (dysbiosis)
  • Inflammation of your pet’s pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Parasites

Signs of digestive problems

  • Diarrhoea or soft stools
  • Change of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach gurgles
  • Constipation

Other signs of digestive problems can include vomiting and sudden inactivity. Note: These symptoms could also indicate another health problem. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your vet.

Digestive care diets

Your cat's food can have a significant impact on their digestive health. To support your cat’s gut health, digestive care diets contain easily-digested proteins, prebiotics and fibre for intestinal comfort and better absorption.

If you’re concerned about your feline friend’s digestive health, talk to your vet to confirm whether a change in diet is required. For treatment and dietary recommendations, book an appointment at your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Looking for cat nutrition advice?

If you need any more information about what to feed your cat, pop into your local Animates store and speak to our friendly pet experts. Our knowledgeable store staff will help you choose a the best food for your cat’s special health needs.

It’s important to know that Prescription Diets are also available. These are diets that are prescribed to your pet by a vet. These diets are formulated to a high degree to focus on treating a specific ailment of your pet’s – from Hill’s J/D (for Joint Disease), to Royal Canin Diabetic food to help prevent insulin spikes. These diets are only available from vet clinics, such as an Animates’ Vetcare, so if you feel your pet needs to be reviewed by a Veterinarian, make sure you visit your local Animates Vetcare clinic.

Optimal Care Plan. Give your pet the best care.