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Understanding Your Cat's Eating Habits

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Understanding Your Cat's Eating Habits

Compared with humans, your favorite feline needs a high-fat, high-protein diet with certain animal nutrients.
 

Cats usually eat many small meals throughout the day, so they easily adopt a free-choice feeding schedule to maintain their normal body weight. Dry foods, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Original with Chicken, are best suited for free-choice feeding because they stay fresh longer.

 

 

Nutritional Building Blocks

Cats need nutrients from animal-based protein sources. Providing the vitamins, minerals, protein, and other components found in a complete and balanced pet food can lead to a long and healthy life for your cat. It is important to avoid supplementing your cat's diet, as doing so may lead to a variety of health problems. When selecting a pet food, look for ones that offer the following nutrients:

  • Animal protein from meat, poultry, fish, or egg sources to maintain strong muscular structure, vital organs, antibodies, and more
  • Taurine, an amino acid found in meat sources such as chicken and fish, but not in plant proteins, to maintain healthy eyes, prevent heart disease, and promote healthy reproduction, fetal growth, and development
  • Essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, which can be found pre-formed only in animal tissues, and vitamin E to help support the immune system
  • A precise balance of fatty acids to help promote excellent skin and coat health
  • A fiber source, such as beet pulp, that will help maintain your cat's digestive system health

 

 

Special Dietary Needs

Pregnant or Lactating Cats
A cat's energy intake should be increased gradually by up to 50% over her maintenance intake through pregnancy. You can use kitten food to provide nutritional support during the last few weeks of gestation.
 

After birth, the mother cat's energy needs increase by 50% to 75% over normal in the first week to twice normal the second week and to three times during the third week. The third and fourth weeks are the most demanding because kittens are still consuming milk and have not begun to eat dry or canned food. Once kittens begin weaning, the mother cat should be tapered back to normal food portions to avoid unnecessary weight gain.
 

Avoiding Obesity
Food and energy requirements may vary for your adult cat. In general, indoor cats have less opportunity or need to exercise than outdoor cats. As a result, indoor cats are more prone to obesity, and regular exercise should be encouraged. You may want to control your cat's portions and choose a cat food made to help maintain weight.
 

Preventing Hairballs
Cats spend a considerable amount of time grooming. In the process, hair can be swallowed and build up in the stomach. If the hairball doesn’t pass into the intestines, a cat may try to cough it up. A special diet can help decrease the likelihood of hairballs, but you may decrease its effectiveness if you combine it with other foods.

  • gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine
    gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine

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    The Importance of Taurine in Kitten and Cat Food

    Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten and cat foods. This important amino acid is essential for cats of all ages, and critical for healthy development, normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. It even aids in digestion!

     

    Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues, such as the heart and eyes, and is not incorporated into proteins.

     

    Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids, but cats and kittens need more than their bodies can produce and rely on their food to make up the difference. Pet food’s animal-based protein ingredients are natural taurine sources, and the amino acid can also be added to pet food recipes on its own.

     

    Why Does IAMS™ Add Taurine to Kitten and Cat Food? 

    All IAMS™ kitten and cat foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins that are naturally rich in taurine as their primary ingredient. So why supplement these foods with additional taurine? Two reasons: natural variability and the production process.

     

    IAMS™ Dry Cat Food: The Natural Variability 

    IAMS™ dry cat and kitten foods include taurine to supplement each food’s primary source of the amino acid — an animal-based protein like chicken, egg, lamb or fish. These natural sources naturally vary in their nutrient content, so adding supplemental taurine helps ensure your cat or kitten is getting enough in their diet every day.

     

    IAMS™ Wet Cat Food: The Production Process 

    For wet food, the canning process itself may affect the complex taurine balance of the food. That means IAMS™ wet cat foods must contain more taurine, as much as twice the taurine found in dry food, to ensure cats are getting enough.

     

    black kitten and white kitten laying on each other under a blanket, relaxed and full on healthy cat food containing taurine

     

    Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in Cats and Kittens

    Cats and kittens need their taurine! Kittens need taurine for healthy growth and development, and adult cats that don’t get enough taurine can develop serious health conditions. Low levels of taurine put your pet at risk for preventable health conditions that can become serious over time.

     

    Impaired Vision and Blindness 

    Taurine is essential to the proper development and ongoing health of feline eyes, particularly the retinas. Without enough taurine, retinal cells can’t function properly and may die, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness (a process called feline central retinal degeneration).

     

    Heart Disease 

    Taurine plays a key role in supporting cardiovascular health, too. A lack of taurine weakens the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.

     

    Decreased Reproductive Performance and Growth 

    Optimal reproductive health and growth also rely on taurine to complete a number of important health processes. Maintaining adequate levels during pregnancy, nursing and early growth helps ensure proper structural development for kittens and wellness for the mother.

     

     

    Feeding your pet well is an important part of taking care of them. Learning the importance of ingredients like taurine is one way you can ensure you’re giving them exactly what their body needs. By giving your kitten a healthy start and understanding  their nutritional needs, you’re giving them the best shot at a long, healthy and happy future. Your cat would thank you if they could!

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