Adopting a cat is a long-term commitment. With proper diet, exercise and environment, many cats can live 20 or more years.
There has never been a better time to rescue a cat in Broward County. Currently, the county’s no-kill cat rescue shelters are overflowing with abandoned and homeless cats and kittens looking for forever homes. With no room left at facilities such as Cats Exclusive and Feline Friends, waiting lists have been implemented for those looking to surrender a cat.
Once the decision has been made to adopt and the cat is taken to his new home, it is important to understand the role proper nutrition has in helping the kitty acclimate. A diet lacking in proper nutrients can contribute to health issues ranging from itchy skin to digestive disorders to urinary tract problems. A cat suffering from any of these disorders can act shy or sluggish or even aggressive. It is difficult enough for a cat to adjust to new surroundings without the added burden of not feeling well.
Start by feeding the new cat whatever he or she was being fed in the shelter. This is most likely a low-end dry formula (shelters rely heavily on donations and they do the best they can), but it will be familiar.
After a week or so, depending on how well kitty is adjusting to his new family and home, begin the transition process to a species appropriate diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores. Their energy comes from protein and fats, not carbohydrates. Because they lack the proper enzymes to break down grains, a grain-free diet is best. Moisture is also a key factor in a cat’s overall health. Therefore, a dry food only diet is not species appropriate and can be a major factor in obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease and more.
While a homemade cooked or raw diet is optimal, it is not always feasible. Therefore, a high quality canned food – one that has ingredients fit for human consumption, is free of genetically modified ingredients, contains hormone and antibiotic-free meats and bisphenol A-free packaging (BPA is believed to contribute to hyperthyroidism in cats) will provide excellent nutrition.
Examples of holistic and natural foods that meet these criteria include Weruva, BFF (Best Feline Friend), Nature’s Logic and Instinct by Nature’s Variety. Each site offers a list of area merchants carrying these products.
On day one of the transition, simply place a teaspoon of the new food on the cat’s dish, next to his current diet. This will help him get used to the smell of the food. Some cats will go for it right away. If this is the case, a full transition will take only a few days.
On days two and three, add 1/4 serving of the new food to 3/4 serving of the old food. Every couple of days, increase the new food and reduce the old until the transition is complete. This should take a week to ten days.
For a cat who enjoys the new food on the first day, use a 1/2 new, 1/2 old approach on days two and three. By day five or six, the transition should be complete.
Cats should be fed at least two times per day, kittens three to four. It is perfectly fine to use a high quality, grain-free dry food as a part of the diet – sort of like a side dish or snack. Recommended dry foods include Acana, Orijen, Great Life, Instinct and Nature’s Logic.
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