What Not to Feed Your Cat
By Penny Derbyshire-Baldyga, RVT
Many people think the process of caring and feeding a cat is general knowledge, but often a lot of mistakes are made. The most common error is to feed cats dog food. Cats need twice as much protein as dogs. Plus, cats also need taurine (an amino acid) in their diets along with vitamin A. Over time, a cat who has been eating dog food could develop severe heart disease and other health issues.
Unless a veterinarian advises it, do not add vitamin supplements to your cat’s diet. Excessive vitamin A can cause sterility and hair loss while an overdose of vitamin D, phosphorus or calcium can cause kidney and metabolic bone disease. Supplementing vitamins are not needed as long as your cat is fed a well-balanced diet.
Contrary to popular belief, fish is not the usual diet for cats. Raw fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase that destroys thiamine, causing a B vitamin deficiency. This can result in loss of appetite, seizures and brain damage. Cooking the fish will remove the enzyme, but a regular diet of fish does not contain adequate amounts of needed vitamins and minerals. Tuna as an occasional treat is fine per most veterinarians. However, tuna does not contain enough vitamin E and can cause yellow fat disease, or Hepatic Lipidosis, which damages the liver.
Many owners these days think a homemade diet is best. However, a homemade diet may not necessarily mean a healthy diet. Unlike dogs, cats are carnivores (dogs, like humans, are omnivores). Feeding a cat a diet loaded with tuna, liver or oils, such as cod liver oil, can lead to vitamin A toxicity, which could result in dry skin, brittle bones and joint pain. If you wish to feed your cat a homemade diet, be sure to check with your veterinary technician or veterinary assistant who can recommend a good balanced diet.
As with dogs, cats should not be given table scraps, as they are usually too spicy and contain too much fat. Plus, feeding scraps from the table can lead to begging and/or stealing from the table. In addition, do not give any type of bone to cats. Chicken or turkey bones can splinter causing injury, and beef or pork bones can become lodged in the intestinal track.
Everyone knows cats tend to love milk. However, cats are lactose intolerant and giving them milk can cause diarrhea. Also, milk should never replace water intake as the resulting diarrhea can cause dehydration.
Lastly, feed the correct food for your cat’s stage of life. If you have a kitten, it’s important to feed beginning-stage cat food since it contains more protein and fat than regular adult cat food.