Step up your cat’s nutritional game by selecting the latest in treats, supplements and foods that are packed with healthy benefits for your feline.
The payout is priceless: Your cat may sport a shiny coat, make healthy deposits in the litter box, stave off chronic conditions like diabetes or hyperthyroidism and gracefully age pain-free.
Customizing the right diet for your cat
The challenge comes in meeting your cat’s specific needs. In recent years, the pet food revolution has taken off with global sales surpassing $85 billion. That means more options for your cat and more decisions for you: Does your feline need prebiotics and probiotics? Will switching to a super-premium food pay off in healthy dividends? Should you consider supplementing your cat’s diet with CBD oil or tempt your cat for good behavior with insect protein-based treats?
Answer: It depends. Regularly check in with your veterinarian before adding any new supplement or switching to a new diet to avoid any adverse reactions.
“It’s important that your discussion with your veterinarian goes beyond food choices,” says Dr. Elizabeth Bales, a veterinarian who serves on the advisory board for the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s Cat-Friendly Practice and is the inventor of the Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Feeder products. “Include your cat’s activity level and identify any behavior changes you notice in your cat, especially increased signs of stress.”
Every cat is unique. Each cat has different nutritional needs that change as she ages.
“Diet does influence how well cats age,” says Dr. Jean Hofve, a holistic veterinarian in Boulder, Colorado, who authored the book, What Cats Should Eat: A Holistic Veterinarian’s Guide to Your Cat’s Optimal Diet. She is also the founder of the LittleBigCat website.
“Feeding the best foods takes more effort and may be a little more expensive,” she says.
“But you will save a ton of money by not having to treat diseases that can be preventable.”
Let’s look at some possible beneficial treats and supplements for your feline based on her age.
What should I feed my kitten?
The immune system, digestive system and key organs are still in development mode for young felines, especially those under the age of 6 months. Experts highly recommend introducing a varied diet slowly to expand your kitten’s palate and acceptance of all types of foods.
“A cat’s willingness as to what he eats is based on what he is exposed to eat within his first six months,” says Dr. Hazel Carney, a board-certified veterinarian who served on the American Animal Hospital Association/American Association of Feline Practitioners task force. “This is the time to introduce your youngster to shreds, pate, whole meat, freeze-dried, vegetables and more. This way if you run out of your cat’s favorite food, he will be more apt to eat other types.”
Kitten supplements tend to provide a much-needed boost of vitamin A plus minerals magnesium, copper and iodine. Your veterinarian may also recommend a supplement containing calcium and phosphorus for bone growth and omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is noted for aiding the brain and vision. And check out lickable treats as a tasty tactic when you need to give medicine.
Supplements to keep your adult cat healthy
The mission during your cat’s adult years is to keep him at a healthy weight. More than 70% of indoor cats are overweight or obese. Extra pounds can put your cat at greater risk for such chronic health issues as diabetes, urethral obstructions, arthritis and skin diseases.
“A sprinkle of digestive enzymes and probiotics to your cat’s food can help your cat to get the most benefits,” Dr. Hofve says.
When adult cats face stressful situations, it can be a punch to their gastrointestinal health or cause them to engage in unhealthy habits, such as overgrooming that leads to bald spots. Pay attention to any changes in your adult cat’s eating habits or behaviors if you bring in a new pet, move into a new home or make any other major changes to your household routine.
Ask your veterinarian about options, such as CBD oil and soft chew treats, that help stressed or tense cats. Our experts recommend CBD products that have been independently tested by third-party labs for potency and purity.
Cats dealing with urinary tract infections may take feline supplements containing cranberries to aid in healthy urination and regulate pH balance.
Easing senior health issues through nutrition
Your senior cat is in the slow-down phase of life and faces many issues: arthritis, weight loss, weakened immune system and digestion issues.
“A low body mass index is a serious liability for older cats,” Dr. Hofve says. “Muscle wasting can be debilitating.”
Again, work with your veterinarian to come up with the right supplements for your golden-aged cat. Adding a spoonful of pumpkin may tame stomach acid and temper other digestive issues. Pumpkin is loaded with fiber, potassium and key vitamins A and C. Read the label and select canned pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin pie filling that is loaded with sugar).
Those supplements that contain turmeric may tone down inflammation, ease arthritic joint pain and possibly provide anti-cancer support. Other options to consider include offering extra omega-3 fats, such as fish oils or green-lipped mussel oils as well as a prebiotic fiber (such as inulin) and probiotics to aid digestion and to support the immune system.
“As a cat ages, his ability to digest and absorb nutrients changes and, in general, it declines,” Dr. Carney says. “For senior cats and older, in order to maintain their weights, we need to give them easier-to-digest nutrients and more of them.”
A treat for all ages
Check out some of the latest treats purrfect for your kitten, adult or senior:
Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Crunchy Cat Treats; $6.99.
Tiny Tiger Lickables Senior Formula Bisque Cat Treat & Topper; $12.77.
Blue Buffalo Baby Blue Kitten Crunchies; $2.44.