Dietary nutrition for Maine Coon cats with digestive disorders

16 July 2022

Often cat owners, engaged in the selection of food for their pets, meet on the shelves of pet stores food labeled “for cats with sensitive digestion.” At the same time, many people have questions: for which animals are these feeds intended? How to understand that a cat has a sensitive digestion?

Let’s try to figure out what features are designated by the term “sensitive digestion” when there is a need to transfer a cat to a special diet and how to properly organize the nutrition of a cat in need of it.

THE STRUCTURE AND FEATURES OF THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IN CATS

1. Cats lack oral digestion. Cat saliva does not contain enzymes responsible for pre-digestion. The cat’s teeth are cutting, they are adapted not for chewing food, but for biting it into small pieces. Cats’ saliva contains more mucus than other predators. This makes it easier for them to swallow dry food. The esophagus of cats contains additional glands that produce mucus for the rapid passage of this food into the stomach.

2. Cats have an incredibly acute sense of smell. The smell of food is often more important for a cat than its taste. By the smell, the cat can determine not only the freshness of the feed, but also the content of fat and protein in it. This feature helps cats avoid poisoning, but because of it, cats lose their sense of smell (with rhinitis, for example) they may refuse to eat.

3. Gastric juice in cats has a very high acidity, it has a pH of 1-2 (for comparison, in humans, the pH of gastric juice is 2-4). Such an aggressive acidic environment is necessary for the digestion of rodent carcasses and kills most of the microorganisms that enter the cat’s body with food.

4. Cats have a relatively short gastrointestinal tract. In nature, they eat quite often, in small portions.

5. The intestinal microflora of a cat differs from that of a human by a smaller species diversity. The number of microbial cells in the intestinal contents is also noticeably lower than in humans. This indicates that cats are adapted to a narrower range of food consumed.

6. Cats are obligate predators. They absorb proteins and fats well and carbohydrates are much worse. The carbohydrate content in the diet of more than 25% in dry matter can provoke diarrhea in a cat.

7. Cats are very demanding about the quality of protein in the feed. Their metabolism is adapted to feeding small game: rodents and birds, and the prey must certainly be freshly caught. Because of this, domestic cats eat warm food with great appetite and reluctantly finish the food that has had time to lie down in a bowl.

8. A number of vital substances the cat’s body is not able to synthesize itself. Their cat should get from food. These include: arginine, taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D.

9. The cat’s body does not tolerate hunger. When fasting for more than 48 hours, a cat may begin to develop fatty liver dystrophy (lipidosis).

10. Cats in nature hunt alone and also prefer to eat alone. If the bowl is in a room that seems too restless to the cat, she will try to take the food to another place. This may look funny to the owners, but in fact the animal does it because it is stressed.

11. Cats are very conservative in food. Having got used to one type of food, many of them are extremely reluctant to switch to eating another. With a balanced diet, the lack of diversity in the diet does not cause any harm to them.

12. Cats are able to set their own feeding regime and the size of the portion eaten. They can follow such a routine very strictly and experience stress when it is violated.

HOW TO UNDERSTAND THAT A CAT HAS A SENSITIVE DIGESTION?

It is not difficult to notice that all cats have a more sensitive digestion than humans. They are very demanding on the composition and quality of feed, conservative in their eating habits, and an incorrectly selected diet or a failure in the feeding regime can easily harm their health. But in some cats, digestive disorders occur even with minor errors in feeding and maintenance. They can manifest themselves with the following symptoms:

unstable appetite, fastidiousness in food;
weight loss;
nausea and vomiting;
flatulence;
painful intestinal spasms;
copious, loose stools;
soft or liquid fetid stool;
rare, dry, excessively hard stool.

In addition, disorders of the digestive system may be accompanied by general lethargy of the animal, deterioration of the skin and coat (tarnishing and fragility of the coat, the appearance of dandruff), the appearance of discharge from the eyes. Noticing similar signs in a pet, you should visit a veterinary clinic to find out the causes of the painful condition. They may be:

poisoning;
helminthic invasion;
infectious diseases;
stress;
swallowed foreign object or accumulation of fur in the stomach;
diseases of internal organs of a non-infectious nature;
food allergy (an inadequate reaction of the immune system to substances that normally do not pose a danger to the body);

individual intolerance to feed components (violation of the body’s assimilation of certain substances as a result of the absence or decrease in the amount of enzymes necessary for this).
It is necessary to determine the exact cause of the malaise. The veterinarian will diagnose, prescribe treatment and during it, most likely, will recommend the owner to use a special veterinary diet for feeding the cat. It is quite possible that after recovery, the animal will also have to follow a special diet. For example, cats with chronic pancreatic diseases need a lifelong diet with a limited amount of fats and proteins to maintain a state of stable remission.

In case of food allergies and individual intolerance, it is very important to exclude from the diet an allergen to which the cat’s immune system reacts, or a component of the feed that is not digested by the cat.

Self-cooking for a cat in such cases can become quite time-consuming and will require consultation with a veterinary specialist.

Feeds marked “for cats with sensitive digestion” take into account the special needs of animals in need of dietary nutrition, and can help the owner to properly organize the feeding of a cat that easily has disorders in the gastrointestinal tract.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CAT FOOD WITH SENSITIVE DIGESTION AND BASIC DIETS?

Cat food with sensitive digestion contains prebiotics – indigestible components that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine.

Dry cat food with sensitive digestion has a special structure that allows the granules to soften faster in the stomach. This allows you to protect the gastric mucosa from mechanical irritation, but at the same time does not deprive the cat of the opportunity to clean teeth from plaque by gnawing hard granules. Wet food has an increased content of liquid and fiber, which helps to improve the absorption of nutrients and helps to facilitate the removal of undigested food residues. In addition, the liquid contained in wet food covers part of the daily water requirement, which is important for cats who drink little.

Among the feeds for cats with sensitive digestion, you can choose a diet that does not contain components contraindicated for a cat (does not contain chicken meat and superfoods — for a cat with an allergy to chicken, grain—free – for a cat with gluten intolerance, etc.) There are also feeds that contain one source of animal protein (salmon, turkey, beef, white fish, etc.).

Cat food with sensitive digestion has a well-balanced vitamin and mineral composition and a harmoniously increased content of easily digestible protein.

Cat food with sensitive digestion is usually high in calories. This allows you to reduce the volume of the daily portion and thereby reduce the load on the gastrointestinal tract.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO GIVE HEALTHY CATS FOOD FOR CATS WITH SENSITIVE DIGESTION?

Veterinary diets, which are prescribed by a veterinarian, serve to alleviate the condition of the animal during treatment. These feeds are not intended for permanent feeding. In contrast, cat food with sensitive digestion can be used as the main diet for a long time.

Such food will not harm a healthy animal. However, when feeding it, it should be remembered that cat food with sensitive digestion has a high nutritional value. Their recommended serving size is less than that of basic diets. At the same time, they have an attractive taste and smell for cats. A cat accustomed to a certain portion size, with free access to cat food with sensitive digestion, may begin to overeat and gain excess weight.

It is also necessary to take into account the recommendations of the feed manufacturer regarding the age, physiological condition and physical activity of the cats to whom the feed is intended.

Different age groups of animals require different ratios of essential nutrients and the content of vitamins and minerals in the feed. Cats, in addition to sensitive digestion having other special needs, may also need food that differs from the basic composition. Complete feeds, the recipes of which are developed by experts in the field of pet feeding, allow you to choose the optimal diet for each cat.

A variety of diets for cats with sensitive digestion are presented, for example, in the PRO PLAN ® feed line.

PRO PLAN ® DELICATE FOOD FOR KITTENS WITH SENSITIVE DIGESTION, TURKEY is rich in high-quality easily digestible protein, and also contains all the vitamins and minerals necessary for proper growth and development of a kitten.

PRO PLAN ® DELICATE FOOD FOR ADULT CATS WITH SENSITIVE DIGESTION, WITH TURKEY contains all the components necessary for a long-term full-fledged nutrition of an adult cat. It also includes a special formula that helps maintain kidney health.

PRO PLAN ® STERILIZED food FOR STERILIZED CATS WITH SENSITIVE DIGESTION, WITH CHICKEN helps the cat maintain a healthy body weight due to its high protein content (41%), low fat content (12%). Harmoniously increased fiber content allows the cat to feel satiety faster and prevents constipation. The balanced composition of the feed helps to maintain the health of the urinary system in sterilized cats, reduces the risk of developing urolithiasis in them.

All these feeds are highly palatable for cats and contain the OPTIDIGEST ® formula, which helps maintain the health of the digestive system thanks to natural prebiotics.

HOW TO TRANSFER A PET TO CAT FOOD WITH SENSITIVE DIGESTION

Usually cats adhere to constant eating habits and are rather reluctant to start eating new food. For a healthy animal, it is recommended to change the diet gradually, gradually increasing the proportion of new food in a single serving for 7 to 10 days. However, in the case of food allergies or individual intolerance to feed components, it is necessary to transfer the pet to a suitable diet for cats with sensitive digestion immediately, simultaneously. The sooner the allergen or substance causing intolerance stops entering the body, the faster the cat’s condition will normalize. The correct selection of food can be judged by the reduction and disappearance of symptoms of gastrointestinal tract disorders.

A cat receiving suitable nutrition is active, has a stable appetite, normal condition, good condition of the coat and regular stools. By its volume and consistency, it is possible to judge how well and fully the cat assimilates the nutrients contained in the feed. With good digestibility of food and the normal functioning of the digestive system, the cat’s feces have a brown color, a soft consistency (without excessive dryness and hardness, but also not liquid, retaining its shape), does not contain inclusions of mucus and blood. Its amount should not exceed 25% of the amount of food received by the cat. The larger the volume of feces in relation to the food eaten, the worse the food is absorbed.

TREATS AND ADDITIONAL TOP DRESSING

If a cat with sensitive digestion is suitable for the food it receives, it does not need additional nutrition, vitamin supplements, and even more treats from the master’s table. Moreover, such additives can have a bad effect on the state of the cat’s digestive system. It is worth warning about this to the household, who usually do not participate in feeding the cat, and guests coming to the house.

However, cat owners often want to please a fluffy pet with an extra piece or use a treat as a reward during training. In such cases, it is better to coordinate the list of treats allowed for the cat and their permissible amount with the veterinarian.

conclusions:

Sensitive digestion is a complex of symptoms that can both accompany diseases and occur idiopathically, that is, without obvious reasons. In this case, the basis of treatment is primarily the selection of a diet.

If a cat is diagnosed with a disease that resulted in the appearance of symptoms of digestive sensitivity, a veterinary diet will most likely be prescribed for her during treatment. After normalization of the condition, the cat may continue to need a sparing diet both temporarily and for life. The feeds used in this case for animal nutrition are not therapeutic, but they can reduce the likelihood of new failures in the digestive system.

General recommendations for the selection of food for a cat with sensitive digestion are as follows:

The list of ingredients included in the feed should not be too large, so that in case of an allegric reaction or food intolerance, it would be easier to determine its cause.

Only high-quality ingredients should be used to feed the cat. As the main source of protein, high-quality, easily digestible varieties of meat and fish are desirable. It is better to avoid feeds with a high content of vegetable protein, bone meal and other by-products of processing. They increase the load on the gastrointestinal tract and have low nutritional value.

If a cat or a cat with sensitive digestion eats food prepared by the owner and digests fermented dairy products well, low-fat cottage cheese can be introduced into the diet in small quantities. At the same time, dairy products are never put in a bowl with meat. It is better not to give milk in its pure form, since it is not digested in most adult cats and can provoke diarrhea.

Choose cooking ingredients or industrial feeds that do not contain coarse vegetable fibers, large pieces with sharp edges. An overabundance of fiber and coarse, hard-to-dissolve pieces of food can irritate and cause damage to the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract.

Feeds with a high percentage of moisture damage the intestines less, are an additional source of fluid and contribute to softening the consistency of stool.

Full-fledged industrial feed contains all the components necessary for a full-fledged cat nutrition. When feeding food prepared at home, there may be a need for additional supplements containing vitamins, micro- and macroelements additionally. A multivitamin complex suitable for these purposes in each case should be selected under the supervision of a veterinarian.

In cat food with sensitive digestion, salt, artificial flavors, flavorings and dyes should be avoided.

These rules can be guided both when choosing a ready-made diet and when preparing food for a cat on their own.

Ready-made diets labeled “for cats with sensitive digestion” are easily digestible dietary feeds with high calorie content, delicate texture and balanced vitamin and mineral composition. Their use as the main diet helps to maintain the health of cats that have a predisposition to disorders in the digestive system. With the right choice of diet and strict compliance with veterinary recommendations, such animals can lead a full life for a long time, maintaining health, physical activity and good quality of wool.

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