Feral Cat Nutrition Tips

We are always reading books and looking on the internet for information about feeding cats as we never seem to have enough food and mostly the cats have to make do with cheaper brands because of our very limited budget. One of our supporters sent us this interesting tip.

In her article, Vitamin C to the Rescue, Anitra Frazier (www.thenaturalcat.net) has this to say: “nutrition for ferals is particularly important given the rigours of their outdoor lives, and is the single most important thing you can do to help regulate their health”. She suggests that caretakers educate themselves and learn how to analyse the ingredients on a pet food label. According to her, dry food is just wet food baked to a crisp (with the vitamins usually added before the baking so they end up being destroyed). She also claims that a raw chicken neck will do more for an animal’s teeth than any type of dry food.

According to Frazier, you should always read the ingredients label to find out more about the nutritional kinds of cat food. Bear in mind that the ingredients are listed in the order of the highest quantity first and the lowest last. Frazier says that, “foods that list byproducts, especially as the number one ingredient, are of suspect nutritional value”.  For example, meat or poultry byproducts can be feathers, hooves, or other items not normally associated with consumption.  She also cautions feeders to watch out for dry foods which list corn products as their main ingredients as corn meal is filler food and does not provide good quality nutrition for carnivores like cats.

Frazier says that, if you can’t afford the higher quality brands of cat food, there are easy and inexpensive ways to boost the nutritional value of lower quality brands. She suggests adding Vitamin C to their food. “It is certainly easier, cheaper and a lot more pleasant to prevent illness than it is to trap a sick cat, transport him to a vet and then try to diagnose and treat the frightened animal.”

Vitamin C is an efficient healer and powerful protector that fights against invasions and stress of all kinds. Germs, viruses, dirt, x-rays and chemicals such as antibiotics, steroids, tranquilizers, anesthetics, pesticides and the preservatives in commercial pet foods have all been shown to use up large quantities of Vitamin C.

Although healthy cats can make some Vitamin C in their intestine, cats can manufacture enough C only if the diet is rich in all the other nutrients they need and only if daily stresses do not become too numerous, too extreme or too prolonged. Stresses such as extreme heat or cold, fighting, being wounded or hurt, being trapped or caged, loud noises, strong, unpleasant smells or forced change of territory use up Vitamin C at an alarming rate. Even a healthy, well-nourished cat couldn’t produce enough to cover the kinds and amounts of stress faced by the feral on a daily basis. Depletion of Vitamin C leaves a cat easy prey to every germ or virus that happens along.

The life of a feral cat is full of stress every day. Any trap-neuter-release program is bound to include being trapped, caged, cut and having a shocking number of chemicals used on the body. The smell of the cage cleaner alone is enough to reduce a cat’s Vitamin C to the danger level. The rest of the veterinary procedures raise the stress level to astronomical proportions. For Frazier, this explains why so many ferals succumb to upper respiratory and other diseases shortly after being trapped and sterilized.

Just as Rescue Remedy works on the emotional plane, Vitamin C works on the physical body. This inexpensive and easily obtainable supplement will greatly enhance any cat’s chance for survival. The most common forms of Vitamin C are calcium ascorbate (which can taste bad), ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate.

Ascorbic acid is usually the cheapest and has the side effect of acidifying the urine. An acid urine prevents the growth of germs and the formation of crystals in the bladder. When found in its natural state in foods, Vitamin C is accompanied by bioflavonoids, rutin and hesperadin. Science has found that these nutritional sidekicks are provided by nature to help the body absorb the C and put it to work more efficiently. A cheap jar of ascorbic acid powder will certainly give a lot of support and protection and it will help acidify the urine. A C complex powder of ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids, rutin and hesperadin will do a lot more for only a little more money. Health food stores will have several choices available.

Vitamin C does not need refrigeration but you must keep the contents of the bottle dry. Use a clean, dry measuring spoon. C cannot be stored by the body so it must be given every meal. A cat can absorb no more than 250 milligrams at a time; in most brands that’s 1/8th tsp. of powder.

Frazier suggests that if everything is going well for a colony, only give 125 milligrams or 250 for each two cats. If the weather turns harsh or some other stress presents itself, increase the dose to 250 milligrams per cat. During trap-neuter-release projects when stress will increase, give the full dose for two days before trapping. During confinement and treatment, feed three or four small meals a day in order to get the C into them more frequently. If a cat objects to the sour flavour, as happens occasionally, cut the dose down by half or use just a few grains. Any amount is better than zero. Seafood and pilchards in tomato sauce works very well to disguise the taste.

Frazier concludes that, “because we are practicing prevention, caregivers may find it difficult at first to pinpoint a clear demonstration of results. The benefits are mostly about what does not happen. Cats do not die under anesthesia; wounds do not become infected; there is no outbreak of respiratory infections shortly after a new cat arrives in the colony. Resistance is high; the cats are more resilient.”

Source: www.thenaturalcat.net