Tipps and information on nutrition of your cat

How to ensure a happy, healthy cat.

Responsible cat owners are always asking us questions, which we have collected and answered for you. Find out what makes your cat healthy and happy – from nutrition to grooming. Feel free to take advantage of our other offers to you, too: Get individual advice or contact our Service department. We are all cat lovers here!

General questions on feeding

What can be done about fussy eaters? 

Some cats like variety in their food – sometimes even between mouthfuls! Simply try offering two or three varieties of Happy Cat mixed together. Incidentally, Happy Cat Adult tasty varieties are also a suitable food mix for younger cats and picky eaters. Just add a small amount to their normal food.

What is the right amount of food?

The amounts of food specified are determined by calculation and refer to the daily ration. The cat's requirements depend not only on its physical activity, but also on its individual metabolism. If your cat has weight problems, the amount of food should be reduced, even for "low-fat" products! Very slender and active cats may be given more. 

Is grain harmful to cats?

Even though cats have a much greater need for animal protein in their diet than dogs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t digest carbohydrates. Carbohydrate which has been broken down to make it more easily digestible can form a useful part of a cat’s diet – even when it makes up as much as 40% of the feed formula – regardless of whether that carbohydrate comes from grain or another source such as potato. Grain should only really be avoided if there is evidence of an allergy or intolerance. However, genuine food allergies are actually rarer than you might think.

Carbohydrate is especially important for breeding animals - it helps nursing cats in the production of lactose. Even with a diet rich in protein, carbohydrates can significantly increase a cat’s milk yield.  Dry food – which, in contrast to wet food, has a much higher carbohydrate content – is an important basic food for breeding cats. 

But there is another key advantage to having a certain amount of carbohydrate in cat food: Adding carbohydrate means there is less need for protein and fat in the food which would otherwise be required to maintain blood sugar levels and as a source of energy. It is therefore possible to get by with moderate amounts of protein and fat in the food. That means less stress on the metabolic organs (liver and kidneys) and an improvement in their long-term efficiency. In most cases it is really not necessary to include lots of “meat” in a cat’s diet – the animal doesn’t need it.

What is the meat content of the food?

The term “meat ratio” is unfortunately neither protected nor "scientifically" determined, in a similar way to the term “light”, which in the case of yoghurt, for example, can also mean “reduced-fat”, “low-calorie” or “frothy”. The most important thing is to “define” the “meat ratio” as the amount of animal protein as a proportion of the whole feed formula. In the case of our Happy Cat Adult varieties that proportion will be between 76 and 87%, depending on the formula.

Is dry food harmful for cats?

The predecessors of our house cats lived in the desert. To counteract the risk of excessive water loss and to save body water, cats were able to greatly concentrate their urine. Today’s cats still have this special physical “feature”, This explains why cats - in contrast to other animals - very often suffer from urinary tract disorders (such as urinary calculi). 

An adequate water consumption and a diet with an optimal protein and mineral content can prevent urinary tract disorders and can also protect the cat’s very sensitive kidneys. What’s more, it’s the same whether the food is dry or wet. Most cat owners, however, still offer their pets a food mixture. That means you can give your cat a combination of both wet and dry food and get all the advantages of both types (see “Mixed feeding”). 

However, when choosing dry food it is essential to find one which – like our Happy Cat products – has a special additive designed to maintain optimum urine pH balance. This – together with a plentiful supply of drinking water – can prevent the formation of harmful struvite crystals, or bladder stones. 

As an approximate guide, cats need between 55-70ml of water per kilo of body weight. However, this amount is consumed over many small helpings. On average, a cat drinks between ten to twelve times a day. The amount of water drunk will depend on the dry matter in the food: roughly 2 to 2.5 ml water per gram of dry matter eaten on average. 

Many cats also enjoy croquettes which have been pre-soaked. Always make sure – as you would with wet food – that the temperature is just right! Cats do not like either extremely hot or extremely cold food. You should offer food at body temperature (approx. 38.5°C). This is logical if we think that cats are hunters and most of their prey is warm-blooded.

Please note the following points to guarantee sufficient water consumption:

  • The cat should always have access to fresh and clean water.
  • Ideally there should be several water bowls in the home. These should be readily accessible.
  • Cats prefer to drink out of glass, metal or porcelain containers.
  • There should be at least half a metre between the water bowl and the litter tray.
  • It is a good ideal to keep the food bowl and water bowl at least two metres apart, otherwise most cats will just see the water as “tasteless” food and not bother drinking it.
  • Some cats prefer to drink flowing water. In this case a drinking fountain is a good idea. 
  • Sick and exhausted animals tend to dramatically reduce their water intake. 
  • If your cat seems to be drinking very little you should supplement its dry food with some high-quality wet food. If necessary, you can make this “go further” by adding a bit of warm water and so increase your cat’s fluid intake.
  • The water can be made more palatable with a little unsalted and unseasoned meat stock or a few drops of tuna brine.

Why is high digestibility important?

Particularly high digestibility guarantees that the nutrients in the food can be easily absorbed by the body and are available for metabolic processes in the body without time-consuming digestion and breakdown processes. The more easily digestible the food is, the fewer “metabolic end products” remain as “waste” that the body has to deal with . High digestibility is therefore particularly important for sensitive pets. The higher the quality of the raw materials used, the more digestible the food - and the correspondingly higher the quality of the actual food. Another key factor influencing digestibility is the production  process: So, for example, extruded products such as croquettes are easier to digest than crushed flakes (similar to our breakfast muesli).

The following criteria are signs of good / high digestibility:

  • Small amount of food
  • Small amount of excrement
  • Good stool consistency

Digestibility is not only down to the food, however. It also depends on the animal. In nervous and older animals, the digestibility of a food can be reduced because it passes too quickly through the gut or the digestive organs work less efficiently. Happy Cat products are particularly highly digestible (90%), so they are very well tolerated. The volume a cat deposits in its litter tray is a good indicator of how well a food is utilised by the cat’s body. A reduction of just 7.5% in digestibility (i.e. 82.5 %) will result in twice the amount of faeces!

Is beet molasses another word for “sugar”?

Sugar beet molasses (= beet fibre, beet pulp, dried beet pulp, etc.) are what remains when the sugar crystals and molasses (sugar syrup) have been removed from the sugar beet during sugar refining. They are thus the cell walls of the sugar beet. There is a grade of sugar beet that still contains a lot of sugar which is used to fatten domestic animals. This is the source of some misunderstanding.

In pet food, on the other hand, an almost totally “de-sugared” variety of beet molasses is used. High in crude fibre, this is used not for fattening or to enhance flavour, but as roughage. Fibre is essential for optimum intestinal health and can bind to pathogenic bacteria, removing them from the gut.

This grade therefore contains only minute traces of sugar – in such small quantities that this sugar beet pulp is even used in diabetic food!  

So in terms of exact figures: If the proportion of crude fibre (roughly equivalent in volume to the proportion of sugar beet pulp) in 100g of food is around 2.5-3.5%, that represents approx. 3g of fibre for a Maine Coon tom cat weighing around 9kg, based on a daily feeding quantity of around 100g. 100g of de-sugared dried beet pulp contains approx. 6.8g of residual sugar.  That’s equivalent to 6.8%. So in 3g of dried beet pulp (i.e. the daily food ration for a 9kg tom cat) there is a maximum of 0.2g of sugar.  

Why are animal protein sources no longer described as “meat meal”?

New legal regulations on the designation of individual feed materials originating from warm-blooded animals have necessitated certain changes in terms of our declarations. What used to be called “poultry meat meal” or “lamb meat meal”, for example, must now be designated as “poultry meal” or “lamb meal”. Alternatively, it is also possible to call this raw ingredient “protein from poultry” / “poultry protein” or “protein from lamb” / “lamb protein”, etc. As the designation “meal” is so similar to “animal meal”, despite the fact that it is a high-quality raw material derived from slaughtered animals which have been passed fit for human consumption, we have chosen to use the alternative designation. 

The raw material fish – as it is clearly not “meat” – has always been referred to as fish meal. A generous phasing-in period will be allowed for the required packaging changes. As changes were already planned for our La Cuisine range, we have implemented the necessary amendments on these products already. We have not yet altered the packaging of any other ranges. The changes will, however, be implemented the next time the packaging is altered. This is why both terms can currently be seen on packaging in the shops.

Why is protein diversity in food so important?

In the whole of evolutionary history very few species have survived that depend almost entirely on one food source. The reason: if adverse conditions cause the food source to fail the animal is in grave danger of becoming extinct (pandas – bamboo). “Predators”, in particular, have high requirements of their food as their lifestyle uses up a lot of energy. To ensure the survival of the “predator”, it is essential that they have access to as wide a variety of prey animals as possible. As well as covering the predator's basic requirements - even if one type of prey animal is unavailable - this also ensures an optimal variety of amino acids and fatty acids. Providing balanced nutrition is the best way to prevent dietary deficiencies, make sure your cat’s body functions well and that your pet stays fit and healthy into old age.

How can dry food and wet food be best compared?

Because dry and wet food have a significantly different water content, a meaningful comparison of the nutrients contained in both types is only really possible by measuring their “dry substance”, i.e. the quantities of nutrients in 100% dried form.

Example:
Comparison of the phosphorus and protein content of two kidney diets

Kidney diet A (dry food)
contains 10% moisture (=water), 0.45% phosphorus and 24 % crude protein. 

  • This food contains 10% water and consequently 90% dry components (=dry mater)  = 90% DM. 
  • It contains 0,45  % phosphorous: 90 (DM) x 100 = 0.5 % phosphorus in the DM
  • It contains 24% protein: 90 (DM) x 100 = 26.6 % protein in the DM

Kidney diet B (wet food)
contains 71.5% moisture (=water), 0.15% phosphorus and 8 % crude protein.

  • This food contains 71.5% water and consequently 28.5 % dry components (=dry mater)  = 28.5% DM. 
  • It contains 0,15  % phosphorous: 28.5 (DM) x 100 = 0.53 % phosphorus in the DM
  • It contains 8 % protein: 28.5 (DM) x 100 = 28.1 % protein in the DM

Kidney diet B (wet food) actually contains more phosphorus and protein than may appear at first glance.

Doesn’t the long-term feeding of herbs counteract the effect of homeopathic medicines?

No! It is assumed that Paracelsus’ principle applies here (“The dose makes the poison”) and the tiny amounts have no effects. On the other hand, it is suspected that they may have a negative influence on the effect of essential oils.

Food mixture: The new feeding trend

What is “mixed feeding?”

Mixed feeding is when an animal is offered different types of food, for example wet and/or home-cooked food in addition to dry food.

Most owners do this to introduce more variety into their pet’s diet. Often they also want to integrate a certain proportion of raw (BARfen) or home-cooked food into their cat’s feeding schedule to avoid the risk of under- or overfeeding.

Although there used to be some resistance to this dietary approach, with many feeling that sticking to one type of food is better for pets’ digestion, we now know that giving “puss” a varied diet doesn’t necessarily lead to digestive problems. 

Better safe than sorry!

Any individual feeding schedule that is drawn up will depend entirely on the needs of the cat as well as on the type of food chosen. A high-quality, optimally balanced complete food – be it dry or wet – is by far the safest option. Both these food types can therefore be offered alternately without any problem. Ideally the type and quantity of the basic feeds chosen should take into account the actual needs of the cat – its age, level of activity and any particular health requirements. Owners intending to feed their cat regularly on home-prepared rations (either raw or cooked) are advised to draw up a ration schedule to ensure that “pussy’s” food contains the optimum number of necessary nutrients. If a complete feed is to be given most of the time, there’s absolutely no harm in also offering the occasional home-prepared meal. 

Things to be aware of:

To ensure that your cat enjoys its food and can cope with change, feed types should not be mixed but offered separately – for example, dry food in the mornings and wet food in the evenings. Animals with sensitive stomachs often find it difficult switching from one type of food to another several times a week.

In this case it’s advisable either to stick with one sort that the cat is able to digest easily, or offer a mixture of the chosen food types right from the outset. Care should also be exercised with cats suffering from allergies where introducing too many different components into the feeding schedule is best avoided. This is because: If a problem arises it’s extremely difficult to establish the actual cause!   

This is how it works…

Due to its low moisture content high-quality dry food provides a balanced supply of concentrated nutrients in any feeding schedule – optimally suited to age and needs. Good wet food and home-produced meals are not only easily digested but can be offered in large quantities. This is because they have a high water content. That means they are also not very filling... mixing both types together gives you the double the benefit. 

Our Happy Cat Adult and Sensitive ranges offer a perfect choice of optimally combined dry food formulas. They provide our feline friends with all the nourishment they need, and plenty of variety too…  

The quantities of “dry” and “wet” used in these formulas are carefully tailored to each cat’s individual needs and metabolism. Recommended amounts for both types of feed are provided as a guide. Generally speaking, cats who do little exercise or have a tendency to put on weight require smaller amounts of food. With wet food it’s important to ensure that the fat content is low (maximum 1% crude fat). Active animals who get lots of exercise and have a high metabolism can often be given greater quantities of food. Tasty treats or snacks should be deducted from the daily ration! 

Example: 

Fully-grown cat, weighing 4.5 kg, normal weight, normal amount of activity, 3 meals a day 

Recommended portion of Happy Cat La Cuisine Land-Geflügel (free-range poultry) as a complete food         

60g per day = 3 x 20g meals

Recommended portion of XY as a complete wet food

360g per day = 3 x 120g meals

Food mixture: 1/3 portion dry food twice daily + 1/3 portion wet food once daily:

20g dry food every morning and evening, 120g at lunchtime 

Why is dog food not healthy for cats?

Cats need considerably more protein than dogs. They also have other metabolic differences: For example, felines need much more vitamin A and taurine than dogs. Too little vitamin A can lead to impaired growth and vision. A lack of the important amino acid taurine can often cause heart failure and blindness. Therefore a cat that is given dog food is likely to be deficient in many essential nutrients.  

When a dog and a cat share a home it is perhaps inevitable that one of them will at some time or other try the other’s food. If it’s just a small amount and it only happens occasionally, that’s not a problem. However, it’s important to make sure that each pet is getting the food it needs most of the time. It is therefore a good idea to place cat bowls up high – on a window sill or scratching post, for example. Dogs should ideally be fed at regular times and all uneaten food removed. Fixed feeding times are also a good educational tool to “cure” fussy eaters.

Neutering

What do I need to know about feeding cats and dogs that have been neutered?

Neutering brings about major hormonal changes which can affect the whole metabolism. Despite having the same amount of food and exercise, most cats and dogs will gain weight after being neutered. As a result of these metabolic changes, it is normal for a neutered animal to need only 75-80% of the food energy (calories) required before neutering. 

After the procedure it is therefore extremely important to adjust the amount of food offered and to check the animal’s weight regularly – ideally every 14 days or, at the very least, monthly. 

The ideal food for neutered animals contains less “energy”, i.e. fewer calories than that consumed before. Neutered cats can enjoy Happy Cat’s tasty Sterilised, Voralpen-Rind (alpine beef) (or Voralpen-Rind Indoor) and Light varieties. 

It’s also important to be consistent in not allowing too many extra “titbits”. If you are going to offer your cat treats and snacks, make sure you only offer small quantities of low-calorie items. Where a cat is regularly given wet food to supplement its dry food intake, it’s a good idea to check the fat content of that wet food and, ideally, switch to a variety containing less fat (below 1% crude fat). 

Another good tip for preventing excess weight is to encourage your cat to exercise more: Even short, 10-15 minute “playtimes” every day are an effective way to burn off calories. There are also toys available which have been found to be beneficial in making a cat “work” for its food.

Kitten

When can I start giving my kitten “adult” cat food?

Kittens are normally weaned gradually onto solid food at around 5 weeks. At this stage they should be offered both high-quality wet food and an optimally formulated dry food. Although large cat breeds are sometimes not fully grown until they are about four years old, cats are physically almost adult at around 9-12 months. So young cats only need Happy Cat Junior up to this age at the latest. If necessary - for example with "little fatties" - you can change over to the Happy Cat Adult varieties even sooner.

Senior cats

Is my cat considered “older” yet? 

With increasing age, your pet needs a particularly gentle diet. We therefore have a special product for cats from 10 years of age: Happy Cat Best Age 10+. For older, very inactive cats, Happy Cat Light can be mixed with the “Senior” food to prevent your cat from becoming overweight. Regular examinations by the vet also help to diagnose and do something about other age-related conditions in good time.

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