For humans, the connection between a good diet and good hair, nails, and skin is well understood. We try our best to eat a well balanced and healthy diet, sometimes we even supplement our diet with vitamins. from the pharmacy. Luckily, we spend every day in our bodies, so we know when things aren’t feeling great or when we might need to change the way we eat. Read on below to find out more!
How are diet and health related?
Cats are almost entirely dependent on us for their food. With endless options out there, it can be tough to find the right food. As with people, cats are unique and have different needs and issues. Two cats can eat the same food and have very different reactions to it. My cat Daphne is also indoor/outdoor so there also is a curveball as she does hunt and eat a ‘raw food’ diet occasionally. Different cat breeds also have varied skin and coat textures that require different upkeep. So, I asked my cousin (a groomer) for her advice and thus began my understanding of the connection between diet and grooming.
Customers often call explaining that their cat needs grooming or a bath because of a certain problem. Usually, the problem is something along the lines of tangled fur, dry skin or excessive mats. While a bath, trim and brushing certainly help, it doesn’t always treat the root issue. Excessive shedding, dandruff, matting, dry pads on their paws, bad breath and poor bathroom hygiene are often linked to inadequate diet. Luckily, good-quality and high-protein foods can be the magic bullet to solve many of these issues!
How can I make better food decisions for my cat?
Less expensive foods have by-products in them. By-products are essentially ‘fillers’ meant to bulk up the food without costing the manufacturers as much. Common by-products are grain shells and tissue leftovers, which are often not very nutritious.
Quick Tip: visit your pet food company’s website to figure out what by-products go into their food. Sometimes, healthy tissues, like liver, are categorized as ‘by-products.’ Liver and other organ tissue can be great in a cat’s diet! When in doubt, do some research and consult your vet.
These foods may also be heavy in corn or brewers rice which are low-quality ‘filler foods.’ Even poultry can be hidden as by-products so be careful and take time to brush up on food labels as you would for yourself. Learning how to read a cat food ingredient bag is actually pretty simple and a google search can really help you narrow down the list to what is best for your cat and their lifestyle.
Some common questions to consider when choosing the right food for your cat:
The myriad of foods is endless but remember to ask your vet or local pet store. The training the pet store owners and associates have from the brands they carry would surprise you. They can guide you to the right food, amount and perhaps even feeding times.
Quick Tip: To ensure you get accurate and unbiased information, it may even be best to visit several pet food stores. Some of them may have incentives to push certain brands over others, so visiting several stores gives you a wider range of information.
What health issues can a better diet fix?
Dandruff and matting are main concerns that I hear from customers. Greasy coats can cause fur to tangle easier and knot up, which results in matting issues. Dandruff can be another result of poor diet and is easy to spot. Of course, some cat breeds are just genetically predisposed to have dry skin or tangled fur, so don’t expect better food to be a miracle cure-all. However, you should expect to see a marked decrease – that’s how you know the new diet is working! Ever since I started feeding my sweet Daphne top shelf food, she only gets minor mats and dandruff and seems a lot comfier in her skin.
I’ll admit it, years ago I was guilty of buying the cheap cat food and jumping brands just because they were on sale. It wasn’t until someone asked me if I’d rather eat steak or McDonald’s that it clicked for me. Skin and fur concerns aren’t the only things that can be helped with a better diet. Sticking to one brand also eliminates stomach and digestive issues. Another unexpected perk of quality food: Top quality foods can result in less aromatic cat box odors and less cat poop to scoop!
Quick Tip: When you start to try new foods for your cat, don’t change it all at once. Cats’ systems get used to their diet, so abruptly changing it can upset their stomachs. Instead, gradually blend the new foods into your current brand before switching entirely.
What about treats?
Who doesn’t have a sweet tooth? Just like humans, cats love their treats. These are great occasionally. Sure, I would love an ice cream cone each day but is it healthy for me and do I really need it? Cats are the same way. Cats will beg for treats and usually deserve them since they are so cute and sweet. However, just like you restrict yourself from rewards, make sure you’re not overfeeding your cat just because you love them. Sure, a few treats are a great way to show affection here and there, but asking your vet and being vigilant on quality food is still important.
Spending a little bit more on a quality cat food can save you stress and money in the long run. This is your cat’s health here so fight the urge to skimp on your fur baby. Cats with long fur or other tendencies to mat should be on a 4-6 week grooming schedule. A better diet can make these grooming visits easier and less stressful on everyone. Start by researching cat food ingredients and understanding food labels. Find a local pet store and ask one of the associates what they advise and have a chat with them about any issues and you may be surprised at how quickly your feline is suddenly frisky and glossy coated they become!
Rock the Cat Spa owner Cari Thompson is a life-long cat lover. When she's not running the luxury cat spa & hotel, she's playing with her cat, Daphne. She writes weekly blogs on cat behavior, health, and care. To learn more about her, check out the About Me page!