Your cat’s food should make her happy and healthy, but without the right precautions it can actually make her sick. There are several common causes of food-related illness, some of which are outlined in our article How Pet Food Can Make Your Cat Sick. It can at times be difficult to know which precautions to take, so here are our recommendations.
- Routinely check the FDA recalls to see if your cat consumes any of the products mentioned. For a full list of potentially dangerous food and treats, go to HEALTH ALERT: Pet Product Recalls by FDA.
If you have a concern about a specific product, you can file a complaint by following the instructions in How to Report a Pet Food Complaint to the FDA.
- Feed a good quality premium commercial food. Avoid homemade diets, which can be very difficult to keep consistent, to prevent nutrient deficiencies (or excesses). Thiamine deficiency and hypervitaminosis D are just two of the problems that can occur with improperly formulated diets.
- Feed only food that has met the AAFCO food standard guidelines. Check to ensure that the bag says it is formulated to meet a particular feline life stage.
- Provide treats which are appropriate for the size of your cat. Treats which are too large or small can cause life-threatening choking if swallowed.
- Keep treats to a minimum to avoid obesity and other problems. Too many rich foods can cause gastric upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and more.
- Avoid feeding table scraps. Some “people foods” can irritate a cat’s stomach and intestines, causing vomiting or diarrhea.
- Avoid bones. This is a more common problem for dogs than cats but there are some cat owners that feed fish or chicken that can contain bones. Please be very careful of the small bones that can be overlooked.
- Make any food changes gradually. Mix in a small amount of new food on day one. The next day feed 25% new food and 75% old food, and continue for a couple of days. Next, give your cat a 50/50 mix of old and new food for a few days, and finally 25% old, 75% new. A sudden food change can cause vomiting and or diarrhea in some cat so take the transition slowly.
- Avoid feeding off-brand canned food labeled as a supplement as your cat’s sole diet. Doing so can cause severe vitamin deficiencies.
- Avoid raw meat diets without the approval of your veterinarian.
- Don’t dismiss symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or foul gas as normal feline behavior. Everyone gets an upset stomach at times but if you have the slightest suspicion that the condition may be more than a fleeting issue, talk to your vet right away.
I hope these tips will protect your cat from food related illnesses.