Running out of cat food can be a worrisome situation for cat owners. However, with a basic understanding of cat nutrition, it is possible to prepare a replacement meal for your feline friend. Cats have specific dietary needs as carnivores, and it is important to ensure that their meals are rich in protein and fats, while being low in fiber. In this article, we will explore how to create a balanced meal for your cat when their food supply runs out.
The Basics of a Cat’s Diet
Cats are natural predators and carnivores with sharp fangs and molars. They have a short intestine, which means they require easily digestible food. In the wild, cats feed on individual prey, such as mice or birds, consuming the whole animal. Their daily diet should consist of approximately 3 to 4% of their body weight, which can be achieved by eating several smaller portions throughout the day. These meals provide the necessary nutrients and water for their well-being.
Domestic cats still carry the genetic traits of desert-dwelling animals, which is why they obtain a significant portion of their water intake from their food. Wild prey consists of around 70 to 80% water, which fulfills their basic water needs. Additional water consumption is minimal.
Replacing Cat Food: Things to Consider
When replacing empty cat food, it is important to focus on a meat-based diet. Unlike dogs, cats thrive on a diet that consists of 95% animal-derived foods, such as muscle meat, offal, cartilage, and blood. The remaining 5% can include plant-derived foods like vegetables, fruits, berries, herbs, rumen, or green tripe contents. By understanding these principles, you can prepare a balanced meal for your cat.
When creating a daily ration from available ingredients, ensure that the meal is not spicy, sweet, or excessively fatty. Additionally, it is best to avoid artificial additives in general. If your cat is not accustomed to a raw diet, it is advisable to cook or steam the ingredients to aid in digestion.
It is important to note that a mixed diet should be avoided. Homemade food production offers several advantages, including natural-like feeding, controlled use of high-quality products, and the ability to tailor the composition according to your pet's preferences.
Main Ingredients for an Improvised Meal
When cat food is empty, various types of meat and fish can serve as suitable main ingredients. Beef, horse, rabbit, lamb, sheep, goat, poultry (such as duck, chicken, goose, or turkey), game, pheasant, and hare are all viable options. Cook each meat for at least 10 minutes at 80 degrees Celsius, and ensure it is served at room temperature. Be cautious about using pork meat, as it can carry the Aujeszky's disease virus, which is life-threatening for cats.
Many cats also enjoy fish, such as tuna, salmon, trout, pike, perch, mackerel, herring, or cod. Ensure that the fish is boneless. Cooked or prepared fish and seafood can be a delightful addition to your cat's meal. Canned tuna is acceptable, but it is recommended to choose the “in its own juice” variant. Tuna in oil should only be given if the oil is well drained.
Enriching the Meal with Veggies, Fruits, and Dairy Products
If you have meat or fish available, you can supplement the meal with steamed vegetables, preferably pureed. It is essential to remember that the vegetable portion should not exceed 5% of the total ration. Suitable vegetables include root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, parsley root, beets, salsify, or Jerusalem artichoke. You can also offer broccoli, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, or zucchini (if it's not bitter).
Fruits should be given in small quantities due to their sugar content. Apples, pears, or berries can be offered occasionally. However, avoid grapes and raisins altogether, as they can be toxic to cats. Dairy products should also be offered sparingly, as many cats are lactose intolerant. Small amounts of plain yogurt or cottage cheese can be given if your cat tolerates them well.
Introducing rice into your cat's improvised meal can provide additional carbohydrates. Cooked rice should be included in moderation, as cats primarily require protein-rich foods. Too much rice can upset their nutrient balance.
Remember to consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your cat's diet, especially if you plan on preparing homemade meals on a regular basis.