The most famous and popular lasagna-eating cat in the world is Garfield. Jim Davis gave birth to this cartoon character in an Italian restaurant in 1978. He brilliantly created a lovable feline with many human traits and faults. Garfield’s laziness, obsessive pasta eating, hatred of Mondays and diets made him funny and relatable. Garfield helped popularize July 29th as National Lasagna Day. The problem is that if our cats eat pasta or too many carbs, it is no laughing matter and can cause serious health problems.
Tips for Feeding Your Adult Cats
1. Cats are Carnivores
The natural diet of cats in the wild is almost totally meat based, usually consisting of small rodents and birds. This type of diet contains roughly 40% protein, 40% fat and only 5% carbohydrates. Compare that to the calorie breakdown of lasagna: 25% protein 33% fat, 42% carbohydrates. Many dry cat food are similar to lasagna because they are cereal based just like breakfast cereal for kids. Canned cat food has a better balance of protein and fat with but is more expensive.
2. Feed to Meet Caloric Needs
As an example, my cat Babette’s ideal body weight is between 11 – 12 pounds (5 kilograms). Your veterinarian can help you determine your cat’s ideal weight.
Daily calories needed to maintain ideal weight have been calculated in a few different ways. An equation commonly used is: 30 times body weight in kilograms, plus 70. For Babette’s ideal weight of 5 kg, that translates into 220 kilocalories per day (30 X 5 + 70= 220 kcal) based on moderate activity. For weight loss or low activity, Babette may only need 70% of the maintenance calories per day.
Dry cat foods vary from 300 – 500 calories per cup. Canned foods vary widely in calories but look for the ingredients that are mainly meat based and minimal grains, potatoes or flour. In my experience, the feeding recommendations are too high on most packages.
Never leave dry cat food out all day. That’s like leaving bowls of chocolates and potato chips out for snacking all day. Dry cat food is very tasty because manufactures spray fat and powerful flavor enhancers on the bland kibble. I recommend that cat owners measure out the appropriate amount food for the day and feed fewer small meals.
3. Plenty of Fresh Water
Cats should always have access to clean, fresh water. Water bowls should be cleaned and filled frequently. The more a cat consumes, the better it is for urinary tract health. Milk is not recommended as a main source of liquids.
4. Increase Activity and Play
It gets harder to keep an indoor cat active after the kitten years and they have lost interest in toys. If the couch potato is lounging in your chair, remove it and engage it in play. It is going to take energy to jump back onto the couch. Feral cats have good body scores because they are active, hunt and eat a diet that is predominately protein and fat. I just recently introduced a new shelter kitten to my house and she has Babette running all over the house.
5. Health risks
The number one health and nutrition issue for cats today is obesity. Recent studies show as many as 40 to 50% of pet cats are overweight and the peak time for developing obesity is during the middle years of their life. Obese cats also are four times more likely to develop type II diabetes mellitus, are two times more likely to suffer non-allergic skin conditions (such as dry, flaky skin and feline acne) and are at risk for a potentially life-threatening liver disease called hepatic lipidosis.
Sorry Garfield! You are a funny guy but your lifestyle of pasta eating and laziness is not good for our furry felines at home.