What is the first food that comes to your mind when you see a kitten? If it is some milk, I need to stop you there. Although most of us have linked the cat word with milk in our mind, because it is how we are used to that even from the cartoons, studies have proven the hazards of milk to cats’ digestion system.
When kittens are born, they become accustomed to the type of lactose in the breast milk they drink. The lactose in other kinds of milk cannot be digested by cats. When we give some milk to cats, it might cause them to have diarrhea which might even lead to death. So, while some cats have no trouble tolerating milk, it is not recommended to give them milk or dairy products.
How about other foods that cats like? Is raw fish healthy for them? Or, is it okay to give them processed meat like salami or sausages? I will give the facts behind them why they should be avoided and tell what kind of food to give them for a healthier life.
Street cats especially cannot say no to many types of food because they are mostly hungry, but that does not mean we have to give them everything. Even though some street cats are obliged to do this, it is really dangerous for them to consume raw food. As raw food includes many bacterias like salmonella and E. coli, it can create poisoning in cats.
Have you ever given them leftover chicken bones or fishbones? Well, these bones can be very sharp and injure their digestive tract or damage their teeth. Just as we are not consuming these parts, we also should not give to them either. Additionally, we should make sure to secure our food waste as cats might go inside trash bins and can face these hazards there.
How about processed meats like salami or sausages? The high sodium content and extra seasonings in processed meats can cause an increase in internal parasites. Internal parasites are a general name given to living organisms that usually settle in the internal organs of cats and feed there.
Did you know onions and garlic can lead to anemia, while grapes and raisins cause kidney failure in cats? Cats with symptoms of vomiting, lethargy, reduced appetite, pale gums, and orange to dark red urine should be taken to the vet immediately if they already have consumed that kind of food. Moreover, chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and raw dough should also be avoided in the nutrition of cats.
Although dog food is not toxic to cats, cats need different nutrients than dogs. While cat food should contain plenty of vitamin A, taurine, arachidonic acid, and protein, dog food has much lower levels of these nutrients, because dogs are able to produce taurine and arachidonic acid and can survive with lower levels of protein and vitamin A. However, cats cannot survive with low levels of protein and vitamin A, and less amount of taurine can develop heart disease, vision, and dental issues in cats.
So what kind of food can we give them safely? Diet programs with protein and mineral content should be adapted for cats. A good way of doing it is to give them cat food in wet or dry form. While wet food increases the water intake of cats and reduces the possibility of urinary tract health problems, dry food can help to protect the dental health of cats thanks to its abrasive surface. But, as everything needs balance, the consumption amount of this food can be limited due to the high carbohydrate content of dry food and the digestive problems that wet food creates when it’s consumed excessively.
It is appropriate to give them this food in cooked, unsalted, and unspiced form: eggs, meat, boneless fish, and whole grains such as oats, corn, brown rice, and couscous. Moreover, vegetables such as cucumber, steamed broccoli, carrots, asparagus, peas, and fruits like bananas, blueberries, watermelon (seedless), peeled apples, and pumpkins are generally safe for cats, but not all cats can tolerate them, and some may have allergies or sensitivities to a certain food, so it is important to introduce the new food gradually and watch for any adverse reactions.
Last but not least, staying hydrated is crucial for every creature just like us. So, please be sure to put a bowl of water regularly in front of your door, for your nature-lover outdoor “neighbors”.
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