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    Your Pet’s Nutrition Needs Compared to Yours

    What kind of nutrition does your cat or dog really need to stay healthy?

    Pets and Nutrition: Feline Fat Facts

    Fats are a good energy source for cats. In the wild, cats consume about one-third of their calories as fat. Fats not only taste good, but they also help cats get the fatty acids they need and aid in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E.

    The problem is that some cats enjoy the taste of fat too much – just like some people. If you find that kitty is digging into her food bowl too often or you’re sharing tidbits of people food with her, be careful. Obese cats can suffer many of the health problems people face, including diabetes and arthritis.

    Carbohydrates and Cat Nutrition

    Domestic cats fed on commercial dry cat food may get up to 40% of their calories from carbs. Yet cats "do not need them in the percentages that are found in the majority of processed dry foods," McGeorge tells WebMD. In fact, there is no minimum recommended requirement of carbohydrates for cats, and too many carbs can be a prime reason domesticated cats put on pounds.

    Water Is Vital to Cat Nutrition

    Cats, people, and dogs are all made up of about 60% to 70% water. But unlike their canine and human friends, cats evolved with a low thirst drive, probably a legacy of their desert-dwelling ancestors.

    Add a cat's low thirst drive to a diet rich in dry foods -- which contain only 5% to 10% water -- and it's clear cats can run the risk of dehydration. This may lead to serious urinary tract problems. Although a diet that includes wet cat food (about 78% water) helps, you should always have multiple sources of fresh, clean water available for your cat.

    Fat Cats and Feline Fitness

    If you can't feel kitty's ribs without pressing or if he doesn't have a visible waist, chances are good that your cat is a bit overweight. Fortunately, cats love exercise, as anyone who's experienced an ankle attack knows. Your job? Provide enriching play for both of you.

    Because cats are geared toward short bursts of intense activity, get out the laser pointer, feathered toy, or string and play for five or 10 minutes several times a day (less at first if your feline friend is unfit). Always play it safe and let your vet know your fitness plans for your Fluffy. And don't forget, even a svelte kitty needs exercise and the bonding attention playtime provides.

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