Just like their personalities, each cat’s dietary needs are slightly different – and sometimes, this means they need an altogether different kind of food. Luckily, there are lots of options to choose from.
Today, there is a wide range of formulas available that have been specially developed to treat and manage the diets of cats with specific health problems. In fact, vet-recommended dietetic foods play a major role in modern veterinary practice. A lot of ground-breaking scientific research goes into each product to ensure it offers the right balance of nutrients, while satisfying special dietary requirements.
Vet-recommended diets can help cats suffering from:
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Dermatitis and inflammatory skin conditions
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Diabetes mellitus
- Chronic kidney disease
- Urinary and bladder conditions
- Liver disease
- Congestive heart failure and high blood pressure
- Clinical obesity
Specialised diets are also available to support cats recovering from illness, e.g. post surgery recovery, or when malnourished.
These days, it’s not entirely uncommon to see cats who are a little bit overweight. The cause is simple - too many calories and not enough exercise! Which is why it’s not enough just to monitor their food intake – you need to look at their activity levels too.
But it’s not as easy as feeding overweight cats less of their regular food, as this could mean they don’t get all the nutrients they need. A special weight loss diet will ensure your cat gets all the goodness they need in satisfying portion sizes, while helping them lose weight.
Of course, the most important step to take if your cat is overweight is to look at their food intake for the day, including treats and tidbits. It’s fine to give the occasional treat – just remember to factor it into your cat’s daily food allowance!
Use our handy body condition tool to see how you cat shapes up, and to discover their optimal body condition (and how to maintain it).
Lots of indoor cats live happy, healthy lives without ever stepping a foot outside. But living in a restricted space has its limitations – especially where exercise is concerned! So it’s vital that you give your cat plenty of opportunities to exercise through regular playtime sessions. Without it, they could end up putting on weight. That’s why special indoor formulas contain more protein and less fat than standard recipes, along with other ingredient ‘tweaks’ to keep indoor cats in peak condition.
Indoor cats also seem to suffer from hairballs more than their outdoor friends. This could be down to increased grooming – or we might simply notice it more! That’s why lots of indoor formulas contain extra fibre along with pre and probiotics to keep the gut healthy, and ease the movement of hairballs in the digestive passage. This can also help reduce litter box odour – which is a bonus for both you and your cat!
True dietary allergies or food intolerances in pets are rare, affecting around just 0.1% of cats and dogs. However when allergies do occur, it can be very distressing for pets, and sometimes even life-threatening. Around 97% of diagnosed allergies result in skin symptoms, with 10-15% causing tummy upsets – so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis, as these symptoms can be seen with a number of other skin and gastrointestinal conditions.
The only accurate way to diagnose a true food allergy or intolerance is via a food elimination trial, supervised by your vet. Most allergies in cats are triggered by proteins in a food, so it’s usually a case of isolating the protein source that’s causing the trouble. Your vet will put your cat on a hydrolysed diet or a novel protein diet for 6-12 weeks, before gradually introducing single protein sources to identify the allergen(s) responsible.
It’s important to remember that, as with humans, food allergies are actually due to an abnormal response in the immune system. The food itself isn’t at fault – it’s simply the cat’s unusual response to it that causes the reaction!
Special diets from PURINA®
To help meet the needs of cats with more specific nutritional needs, a number of our brands have their own specially developed diet formulas. You can find out more by clicking on the brands below.