Educational Articles

Cats + Nutrition

  • Taurine is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of all proteins. Taurine is an essential amino acid in the cat. Taurine deficiency will lead to feline taurine retinopathy, a weakening of the muscle cells in the heart, causing a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and may cause digestive disturbances. Taurine was first recognized as a necessary component of the cat's diet in the late 1980's. Since then, all diets that are formulated for cats are supplemented with enough taurine to meet the normal cat's needs. A healthy cat that eats a high-quality cat food that is appropriate to its life stage does not require supplementation. Supplemental taurine is used as a treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy in cats. There are isolated occurrences of taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Your veterinarian may have preferred supplement manufacturers that he or she will recommend.

  • Tube feeding is an alternative way of providing nutrition to a cat that is suffering from anorexia or has some anatomical or surgical condition that prevents it from eating normally.

  • An esophagostomy tube is a small rubber tube that enters the esophagus through a surgical incision on the side of the neck. This allows food you to place food directly into the esophagus so that it can flow down into the stomach. The feeding tube is not placed directly into the stomach.

  • Too much vitamin A or hypervitaminosis A can lead to serious toxicity. While somewhat uncommon in North America, vitamin A toxicity is sometimes diagnosed in cats that are fed primarily table scraps. There seems to be considerable variability in how susceptible individual cats are to this problem. It takes a long time for the clinical signs associated with vitamin A toxicity to develop; symptoms do not usually appear until the dog is at least middle-aged.

  • Designer diets cover a range of options that target specific feline nutritional needs. While some designer foods include certain ingredients like novel protein sources, others exclude certain ingredients like grains. Determining what diet is best for your cat should include a discussion with your veterinarian as there is no documented data that designer diets are any healthier for the average cat than traditional, commercial preparations.

  • Cat grass can be one of many cereal grains such as oat, wheat, barley, alfalfa, or rye. The grass is planted and cultivated indoors and presented to the cat as a supplement to the existing diet. Eating grass targets a cat’s natural instinct to forage and provides entertainment as well as nutritional and digestive value.

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