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'Faux paws' of proper feline nutrition

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Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:50 am

(ARA) - Feline pet parents take pride in caring for their cat. However, what many think are nutritious food options might not be the best choice for their furry friend. It's often difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition for your cat.

An overwhelming 94 percent of American cat owners are confident they feed their felines the most nutritious meals possible, according to a recent Pet Parent Purrception Survey commissioned by 9Lives. Nevertheless, many pet owners (48 percent) admit they feed their cats table scraps - which do not provide the essential nutrients cats need - and more than a quarter (26 percent) have never taken their beloved feline to the veterinarian for annual checkups.

Some of the common feline nutrition "mis-purr-ceptions" found in the survey are:

* Nearly half the respondents reported they were indulging their furry loved ones with food from the dinner table. The problem is, root vegetables, green tomatoes and raw potatoes are nutritious for humans, but aren't necessarily healthy choices for cats, according to www.vetpetmd.com.

* A little-known fact is that giving your cat milk may not be a healthy practice due to the common incidence of lactose intolerance in many adult cats. Allowing your cat to drink milk or lick the melted ice cream out of your bowl can cause your cat digestive problems. Only kittens need a mother's milk, which has the nutrients and antibodies they need to grow strong and healthy, according to Emerson Animal Hospital in Waco, Texas.

* Almost a quarter of respondents thought giving a cat a purely vegetarian diet is nutritious, when in fact it can be harmful, according a study titled "Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats," from The National Academies Press. Cats can survive on a vegetarian diet, but they aren't able to process carbohydrates the way humans do, and vegetarian diets can fail to provide cats with enough amino acids to keep them healthy, according to veterinarian Marla McGeorge, a cat specialist at Best Friends Veterinary Medical Center in Portland, Ore.

Morris the Cat and 9Lives want pet parents to know that armed with the right nutritional information, they can give their cats the food they need to live a long and healthy life. Here are some tips for selecting healthy food options for cats:

1. Choose quality food and read labels. Your cat's food should provide a complete and balanced supply of nutrients. Remember, different cats have different needs. If your cat is older, select a formula for mature cats. If he needs help with his skin and coat, select a food developed with ingredients to help these problem areas. The Advanced Nutrient System in 9Lives cat food provides an option for every cat's daily nutritional needs.

2. Create a comfort zone. Promote healthy eating by giving your cat a quiet, clean place to eat. If you also have a dog, make sure your cat isn't eating Fido's food. Dog food is developed for dogs' nutritional needs, and your cat has his own unique requirements for protein, taurine, niacin, vitamin A and fatty acids.

3. Go easy on the treats. Though nutritious cat treats are OK from time to time, use them sparingly as a reward for good behavior or a training tool.

Pet parents everywhere can rest assured knowing the essential nutrients their cat needs are available to them with the 9Lives Advanced Nutrient System. To receive nutritional advice and information on selecting the right food for your cat with the 9Lives Nutrition Simulator, visit the 9Lives Web site at www.9Lives.com.

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