Special Needs Cat Diets



Note: This information is not meant to be used as a cure or treatment plan. Consult your vet for the best and safest treatment options for your cat. Usually, treatment will require medications or other means set out by the vet. These are just helpful facts regarding nutrition and only nutrition.




Allergies

A good quality diet with real protein sources will help reduce the stress on the body. The body has enough to deal with already; putting extra stress with poor, highly processed foods will not help.

Wet food is more helpful than dry. Dry food tends to add heat to a body that is already hot.
Extra essential fatty acids will act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin C, approx 500 milligrams a day, depending on the cat’s size

Anemia

A diet rich in iron, protein, and vitamin B12 is important for cats suffering from anemia. The following foods are helpful for treatment:

Beef liver (for protein, B12, and iron)
Green vegetables (for iron and other minerals)
Kelp powder (for iodine and other trace minerals.
Vitamin C, approx 500 milligrams a day, depending on the cat’s size

Arthritis

Vitamin C, approx 500 milligrams a day, depending on the cat’s size. It is best to divide up the amount, giving it twice daily.
Vitamin E
Vitamin A and D combination
Supplements containing glucosamine can be very helpful for some animals, especially when the joints are involved.

Bladder/Urine Problems

If your pet is on generic commercial food, upgrading the quality helps a lot.

Fasting is useful in this situation. Continued eating aggravates the problem. During the acute phase of this condition, put the cat on a liquid diet. A broth made from fish or meat may help.

Provide the cat with water at all times.
Vitamin C will help maintain acidic urine, which we know helps prevent crystallization.
Vitamin E will minimize or prevent scarring of tissues that are healing within.
Magnesium helps prevent the reformation of stones.

Cancer

Unfortunately this is a serious problem that changing the diet cannot help or prevent this from happening. I mean, you can feed a great diet to help prevent but cancer can occur, unfortunately, at any time. However, if your cat is going through cancer therapy, or you want to improve on quality of life, here are some tips:

Avoid poor quality commercial foods. No preservatives, pesticides, or anything else that will cause stress on the body.
Give Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and selenium. They help remove toxins and prevent further free-radical damage.
Use only spring, distilled, or pure water. Basically no tap water.
Avoid vaccinations. Giving a vaccine to an animal with cancer is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Constipation

Raw meat seems to be a natural laxative for cats. Milk also works for some cats.

Mineral oil added to food helps where there is a build up of hard stools. This should only be used for a week, as use for longer than a week can cause Vitamin A deficiency.

Mineral oil works the best, as compared to other oils, because it has the advantage of remaining undigested and making it to the rectum.

Diabetescat-heart

The main goal of a diet to control diabetes is to reduce the stress on the pancreas. This means regulating the sugar intake as well as a low fat intake. Low fat is important because the pancreas produces enzymes that are involved in the breakdown of fat, and we want to take it easy on the pancreas.

The food should also be low in carbohydrates. The carbohydrate content should be no more than 10% carbohydrates from protein. This also helps the cat if there is a weight problem present. As with humans, diabetes in cats is linked to obesity.

Diets high in fiber have also been linked to diabetes treatment. However, the jury is still out on that. A high fiber diet can aid in diabetes and weight control, the problem lies within the type of fiber found in these diets.

Foods that are especially helpful for diabetes:
Millet, rice, oats, and green beans. These would be considered good fiber sources.

Diarrhea

This is not a very specific condition. Diarrhea can be the result of pretty much anything. It is important to find out exactly WHY your cat is having diarrhea. This information is only for mild cases, with no serious underlying issues.

Do not feed any solids for the first 24-48 hours. A liquid fast diet will give the intestinal tract time to rest and do its job of flushing out the system. Make sure that plenty of water is available for the cat. A common problem with diarrhea is the dehydration from the loss of water, sodium, and potassium. So the need for readily available water increases.

Once the diarrhea has settled, adding oat bran to the regular diet may help. This is a useful substance that allows the good bacteria to grow and thrive.

Again, if there is an underlying issue, the diarrhea may not go away after the 48 hour period.

Elderly

There is no special food for elderly cats. Even if you see ‘Senior Cat Food’ at the pet store, there is nothing overly special about it.

For the most part, an older cat is less active than its younger mates. Therefore, less carbohydrate, fat, and calories are needed in the food.

Older cats need water more often than younger cats, so ensure that there is a water source present at all times.

Older cats are more susceptible to kidney, liver, joint, teeth, and many other problems. If that is the case with your elderly cat, just look for the heading dealing with that specific issue.

Other than increased water requirements, and less need for energy, there is nothing that stands out for healthy elderly cats.


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Hairballs

The goal with hairball control is to add a lubricant that will help the hair move through the digestive tract easily. In terms of a diet, there is one common way:

Increase the amount of good fiber that your cat is digesting. This fiber helps the cat pass the hair easily through the digestive system. This can be as simple as adding a little pumpkin pie filling to the cat food.

Make sure your cat has a water source at all times. The water will lube up the digestive tract, making the hair easier to pass.

Heart Problems

While nutrition cannot cure any heart problems, it definitely can strengthen the affected tissues around the heart, depending on the degree of the problem and age of the cat.

Meat is really important here. And I mean REAL meat sources. Meat has the amino acid taurine which, by clicking on the link, will tell you how important it is.

Make sure the food you are feeding your cat doesn’t have any salt, bacon, soy sauce, or artificial flavorings.
Provide the cat with pure water, no tap water.

Usually heart problems are associated with weight problems. Look down this list further for tips regarding weight issues and what to do to help.

Kidney Problems

Once a kidney problem appears, the goal is to avoid further deterioration. Changing the diet of a cat can help in this regard. The kidney primarily is responsible for filtering out the bad stuff the cat ingests. So…

Avoid food preservatives, coloring agents, and artificial sources. Essentially this means poor quality cat food.

We need to give a little amount of good quality protein, rather than large amounts of ‘by-products’ and the like. This results in not a lot of extra protein in the body. Extra protein means more stress on the kidneys.

Make sure vitamins A, B, and C are provided. These are water soluble vitamins that get flushed out of the body so easily.

cat-and-girlLiver Problems

Much like kidney problems, it is important to ensure that the liver is not being over taxed. We also want to avoid the same preservatives, coloring agents, and artificial sources that we are avoiding for kidney problems.

The choice of food should be a little amount of good quality protein, like for kidney problems. This allows the protein to be easily digested by the cat. The diet should be low in fat. As we know from this page, liver produces bile. If a high fat diet is consumed, the liver will be working overtime to create more bile. The goal is to take it easy on the liver.

For liver disease, avoid dry food. Period.

Stomach Problems

Problems in other areas of the body can cause symptoms like vomiting, upset stomach, nausea, lack of appetite, among other symptoms. It is important to know what the underlying issue, if any, is.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time the problem is due to the food that is being eaten. Poorer quality foods full of fillers are the cause of a lot of stomach problems due to the inability to digest grains that a lot of the poorer quality foods have. Something as simple as changing to a better quality diet can solve the problem.

It is advisable to feed your cat smaller portions during these times to ease the activities of the stomach.

Avoid fish and beef sources.

Teeth Help

Nutrition is important after your cat’s teeth have been cleaned. Without proper nutrition, the gums cannot repair themselves or maintain any resilience.

Leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, lima beans, potatoes, and lettuce are great. They are rich in niacin, foliate, and other essential minerals.

Giving your cat a ‘natural toothbrush’ will help as well. This can be small bones from chickens or turkeys.
Edit (Sept 14/15): Please ensure that you are giving your cat raw bones that are small enough to prevent choking. Cooked bones are not recommend at all as they become very brittle and will splinter easily. This is unsafe.

Vomiting

With vomiting, nothing special can be added to the diet as it will come up anyways. Also, it is a lot like diarrhea where it is not a problem itself, it is a symptom. It is important to determine what the underlying cause is.

Rest the stomach, do not feed for 24-48 hours to allow the stomach to settle down and regroup.

A broth, from meat, may help soothe the stomach. It will help replace the electrolytes that have been lost. If there is no vomiting after the first broth feeding, continue for 24 hours.

Weight Problems

A highly, nutritious high-protein diet is important. Make sure the protein is from a quality source. This ensures that the cat is still getting the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that are needed for basic metabolic function.

With my personal experience and research, there is no special ‘diet’ cat food that is above and beyond the best. As mentioned, a high quality protein diet is important. A lot of diet foods are labelled ‘low-fat.’ Be aware that low-fat doesn’t necessarily mean low carbohydrates or low calories.

As with the blurb under the ‘diabetes’ section, the same applies here in regards to high fiber diets. It is true that high fiber diets can help the cat lose weight. This is because digestible fiber can give the cat a ‘full’ feeling for quite some time. This makes the cat eat less. However, many of the cat foods out there that specialize in high fiber diets use the bad fiber sources. This causes problems for cats. See fiber blog post for more information about this.

Other special considerations

Animals under the following categories need extra calories, more protein, and more fat in their diets:

Kittens
Breeding, pregnant, lactating females
Animals that need to regain strength after illness, injury, or malnourishment
Animals exposed to extreme temperatures.

This is because increased repair and replacement is needed during these times.

 

Source: The majority of this information was taken from the book ‘Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats’ 3rd Ed. by Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. 2005.
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3 Comments

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  1. Please change the suggestion in constipation from “pumpkin pie filling” to just plain pumpkin. You do not want to give them anything with spices or seasonings in it. Thanks.

  2. Thank you again for great information! I just want to point out under the topic TEETH regarding “natural toothbrush”, the bones should be raw and not cooked for they will splinter easily if cooked. Perhaps you can add the word raw to that sentence. 🙂

    1. Thank YOU again for another great comment.

      You are absolutely right and I have added your suggestion to that particular topic.

      That is very important information left out! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. 🙂

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