Feeding cats a food suited to their age, size, lifestyle, specific sensitivities and breed means contributing to protecting their health. Only specially balanced diets are able to guarantee all the nutrients necessary for your cat’s well-being.
An owner’s fondness for cats can sometimes lead to poor nutritional choices on their cat’s behalf. And foods many consider treats may actually harm our feline companions. It’s essential to remember some very important facts about cats in order to foster healthy growth and development.
- Cats have a weak sense of taste and don’t require much variety in their diets.
- Their jaws are made for cutting, not chewing.
- Cats are often lactose intolerant, so milk is not a good treat for them.
- Cats draw their energy from fat, but they can suffer from obesity, depending on various factors, like lifestyle and age. In fact, the prevalence of overweight cats has increased more than 90 percent since 2007. (Source: Banfield State of Pet Health, 2012)
- Indoor cats require less energy and protein than outdoor cats.
- It is estimated that up to 80% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease. (Source: Royal Canin Research Center, 2006)
A cat that does not go outdoors expends little energy and spends about 30% of her waking time licking her coat. The ingested hair is then eliminated after it passes through the intestine, but this grooming activity represents a major risk of hairballs forming in the digestive tract. The natural elimination of these hairballs can be assisted with a fiber-rich diet, and excess weight gain can be addressed with a diet that contains moderate calorie content.
A cat that goes out regularly has higher energy requirements based on time spent outdoors, the size of the territory available to her, and to the range of climatic variations throughout the year. As with indoor cats, an outdoor cat’s food must account for the amount of energy she expends. These needs may change, as many so-called "outdoor" cats become "indoor" cats depending on the season.
The percentage of cats over 6 years of age has nearly doubled in just over a decade. And as nutrition and medicine continue to advance, it stands to reason our mature cat population will grow.
Many cats begin to show physical signs of aging between 7 and 10 years of age, and most do so by the time they are 12. Aging often means decreased energy, difficulty walking and loss of appetite. And older cats have a greater chance of developing various illnesses, including cardiac problems (ventricular hypertrophy), respiratory difficulties, susceptibility to infection due to a weakened immune system, frequent kidney disease, tumors and endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes. Obesity is also a risk factor in a large number of diseases, such as diabetes and skin problems. But older cats may also become underweight and lose muscle.
That’s why it’s important to adjust your older cat’s diet, starting at age 10. Even if you’re not seeing physical changes in your cat, there may be metabolic changes that can be addressed with mature-based nutrition.
Elderly cats should also be monitored by a veterinarian so any illness can be treated as soon as possible. One veterinary examination per year is recommended throughout a cat's life, with one every six months strongly advised for cats over 12 years old.
Learn more about our ROYAL CANIN® Feline Health Nutrition™.