Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.
Diet for Cats
Dr. Candy Olson, owner of Greenbriar Animal Hospital discusses proper diet for your cats.
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Hi, I am Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. This video is about tips on how to take care of your cat at home. This particular section has some tips on feeding your cat. There are a couple of things that are important to know. First of all, there is a lot of difference between wet cat food and dry cat food as far as calories are concerned. You sort of have two broad categories; there is the regular foods and there is the diet foods. The diet foods are lower in calories obviously, but there is not a great deal of difference in the calories for regular cat food and the light or low cal version, but there are special prescription foods that are extra low in calories. There are also a lot of foods available that can help your cat with particular problems, like it has got a sensitive stomach and it tends to throw up on occasion, or it has got allergies or other problems like that. So, there are foods that can actually help that rather than medication. Its something to talk to your veterinarian about if your cat has any of those issues. But this is just a general comparison here. For example, this is canned food that is a prescription food for overweight cats. Low in calories, excellent palatability, cats usually really like it. This is the equivalent of a regular dry food, nothing special about it. This is a food thats meant for helping cats with their teeth and gums, and also its very low calorie. These actually have the exact same amount of calories. All four cans are the equivalent to this one cup of the regular dry food or two cups of this stuff. So, you can see that if you gave your cat, for example, one cup of that a day, plus one can of this a day, thats actually a lot of food for a cat, but its relatively low calorie, where if your cat is just getting this, thats a lot of calories. Thats about 500 killer calories right there. So, its a lot of food. Its very difficult to put your cat on a diet or cut back on the calories if youre just feeding dry food. One of the problems with cats is that if their bowl is empty, they will come and get you, and they will pester you until you put food in it, doesnt matter if its three in the morning. So, you have to work around this a little bit. We will go over that a little bit more in the next section which is about dealing with overweight cats. When youre talking about more regular food, for example, regular canned cat food is still lower in calories. If you look at it, this is a type of regular food, nothing special about it as far as calories are concerned. Its very common to regular foods. This happens to be a prescription food thats meant for diabetic cats, but it is about average calorie wise. This can has the same amount of calories, just about three-quarters of the cup of the special stuff that helps with the teeth and is low calorie, or a third of a cup of the regular dry. So, if you want to give regular dry but give less, your cat is not going to be very happy with that, its not very much food. So, you can do a combination. If your cat is heavily overweight or is really having issues, say its developing arthritis and you really want to take some weight off, sometimes it helps for a few weeks to just give it canned food. There is no way a cat could eat four cans of this in a day, thats way too much volume. A typical thing is to eat one can a day or maybe possibly one-and-a-half. The wet food tends to fill the cat up and feel yummy, they like it, most cats, and it has the advantage that it can be good for them as well. It has a disadvantage in that if they dont eat it right away, it does tend to go bad, so you want to give small amounts. The other thing with the wet versus dry food is that -- well, really with any food, cats will eat what they like. You cant encourage -- well, you can encourage, but you cant convince a cat to eat something that it doesnt like. Cats will actually make themselves sick before they will eat something that they dont like. So, its really important to try things and see. Your cat doesnt have to love it, its diet food, but he has to like it enough to want to eat it. Which is one of the reasons why we always recommend samples, and we will send a sample of this and a sample of that home for you and tell you well, try this, try that, see what your cat likes. They are almost always at least three or four foods, no matter how special your cats dietary needs are, there are almost always at least three or four different foods that you can try. Thats especially important if your cat is overweight, because cats can actually develop liver failure if theyre overweight, and they dont eat for a period of time. It can actually throw them into liver failure. So, you think, no, he is going to eat it, I will just put it out there, he will eat it eventually. Not if he doesnt like it. If you have more than one cat and youre trying some food changes, you want to make sure that everybody likes it and everybody eats it. This is the perfect time to have them under close supervision, so youre not just putting the food out and saying yeah, its disappearing, because two of the three cats maybe eating it, and the third maybe sitting aside going, I dont like it. So, thats very important. The other things that you can do as far as feeding is concerned is you always want to get the best food that you can afford. There are lots of premium foods out there. There is a lot of good information on them. Unfortunately, the one piece of information that is not readily available for any foods other than the special prescription foods like this is how many calories are there. The other thing is if youre giving your cat wet food, I really recommend that you give it either in the middle of the day or at the end of the day rather than first thing in the morning, because a lot of cats really like their wet food. If theyre used to it, if youre giving it to them every morning, theyre going to start getting you up earlier, I want my food, I want my food. We have some people who complain, yeah, cats can be up at 5 oclock in the morning for their wet food. Give them the dry food in the morning, and give them the wet food later on. It tends to work a little bit better, just a tip. If you have questions about how many calories are in your cats food, like I said, check with the manufacturer. If its a prescription food, thats readily available. So, those are some tips about feeding your cat. Next, were going to go over how to handle an overweight cat.