Cat chat: Hey! Neighbour! Leave those cats alone!
I’ve seen a few articles recently about people feeding wandering cats, assuming they were strays or just to be friendly to them. Unfortunately, this kind behaviour can have some very negative consequences and end up being quite distressing for both the cats and their full time owners. Here’s why…
The most obvious is clearly weight. According to the Hills Treat Translator, feeding a cat a cup of milk (and more on why you shouldn’t do that later!) is the equivalent of feeding a human four and a half hamburgers. Four and a half!!! This is a great illustration of the small amount of food it takes to grossly overfeed a cat or dog. The chances are that the kitty receives a reasonable diet at home and every little titbit beyond serves to add extra weight to the cat. Not only that but the cat will come to expect extra treats.
Avoid the milk!
Another issue is the common myth that cats love milk and therefore a saucer of the lovely white stuff is a brilliant treat. Whilst it’s true that some cats do love the taste of milk, many cats are actually lactose-intolerant (but they’ll still drink it). Therefore, once the satisfied kitty leaves your house and heads for home, it’s the owner that has to worry and fret when they start with diarrhoea and/or vomiting. Only the owner can really know whether or not their cat can stomach milk and cream and as the potential problems outweigh the benefit the treat provides, it’s one to avoid.
Cats don’t like Sushi
Would you eat raw meat? No? Nor should your cat and the same goes for fish. Cats are susceptible to food poisoning, just as we are. Not only that but raw fish can cause a thiamine deficiency, which can lead to convulsions or even a coma. In addition, cats can’t stomach liver, be it cooked or raw, in any but the smallest of amounts. Larger amounts can lead to problems with deformed bones and osteoporosis.
As an occasional dish, it’s generally fine but dog food just doesn’t meet the nutritional requirements of most cats. Therefore, it’s probably best to avoid it just to be on the safe side.
They don’t knead the dough…
It may seem silly but that little bit of dough you dropped when you were baking bread? The one that Tiddles is eyeing up? Don’t let her eat it. The uncooked dough can rise in the stomach of the cat, causing the abdomen to expand! I think we can all imagine how painful that would be…
And don’t forget these…
Milk isn’t the only thing cat’s should avoid and if you’re not a cat owner there are other things you could fall foul of. For example, feeding a kitty a grape or too may seem incredibly cute but could actually cause kidney failure. Chocolate is a definite no. It’s toxic to cats: so much so that it can lead to death (and this counts for dogs too – keep your chocs to yourself!). Fat trimmings may seem like a great idea: you’re not eating them, so they’ll go to waste otherwise. Sorry but throw them away and the same with fish bones. The bones can choke a cat or lead to a laceration of the digestive system, whilst fat (cooked or uncooked) can cause intestinal problems.
Got all that?
It’s a lot to remember isn’t it? Then add in the fact that the visiting cat may be on medication or have allergies or intolerances you’re not aware of and it really is a minefield. If the cat is looking particularly shabby or underweight and you think it may be a stray, try some simple cat food or biscuits until you can get the necessary checks made. Check with local vets or shelters to see if anyone has reported their cat missing and see if you can get the microchip scanned. If there’s no traceable owner and you decide to keep kitty, that’s a whole different ball game. It might be worth sticking a ‘DOs/DON’Ts’ feeding list on your pantry door!
Love in abundance
There is one thing, however, that cats can never have enough of (at least until they tell you so!) and that’s love. A good cuddle or stroke or playing with them will be a lovely treat for a visiting cat without any ill effects. Fortunately, the stomach isn’t the only way to a fickle cat’s heart!