EXPERTaccess with Purina ONE® Cats:
You Ask. Our Experts Answer.

As a caring cat owner, you rely on your cat's feedback during the many daily routines you share to know what your cat needs, wants, and feels. Even so, sometimes you would also like outside, expert advice to answer questions that some specialized knowledge.

We started EXPERTaccess with our Purina ONE® Cats community on Facebook to open up some healthy discussions about topics that matter to responsible cat owners.  We gathered questions from our community and asked our experts - a veterinarian, a behaviorist and a nutritionist – to provide some advice.

Here’s a compilation of the Q and A that ensued.

ADOPTING A SENIOR CAT

Q:

What are the best things to keep in mind when adopting a senior cat? – Purina ONE Fan Nancy K. 

A:

From Sandra, our Behaviorist:

When in doubt, start off slow and cautious when introducing your senior cat to his new home and family. It is important consider the cat's temperament, age, and health, because not all senior cats are going to be the same in how they respond to change.

Environment enrichment is still important for the senior cat – their minds and their bodies should be challenged to help keep them healthy and active.

Recognize health issues could influence their behavior so talk to vet to understand what health issues your senior cat has and how it could affect his behavior and subsequent care. Your vet can be a great resource for tips on how to best care for your senior cat!

GROOMING TIPS

Q:

I got one that doesn’t groom himself, never has. He sheds non-stop, I can brush him forever and it just keeps coming. Sapphire, the white one. He’s Siamese/Manx mix. Found him as a kitten by himself.  – Purina ONE Fan Jerri J. 

A:

From Sandra, our Behaviorist: 

Grooming is a normal behavior so failure to groom could be the result of

- Stress due to something in his environment that is preventing him from feeling secure enough to groom

- Health issues. Some obese cats may no longer be able to groom themselves effectively. Pain also can be a deterrent

- Aging – some cats may be grooming but it is not as effective as previously due to decrease in saliva production. And of course pain.

- He likes when you do it or he likes the attention that comes with grooming

- He is grooming but not when you are around

So always worth talking to vet to see if he has any ideas. Some things to consider to help facilitate grooming

- Feeding wet food – grooming after a meal is normal behavior and with wet food he may be more inclined to groom

- Try putting a little bit of food on his coat (on his chest) to see if this will initiate a grooming session.

- If he doesn’t have his own privacy area that his just his alone – try creating one in his favorite resting place.

Long haired cats are going to need help to keep their coats healthy and so even if you are successful in getting your kitties to groom, they will very likely still need help to prevent knots and to get rid of excess hair.

EXERCISE ROUTINES

Q:

How do I get my cat to exercise? He just lays on the toy or watches me move it around. – Purina ONE Fan Ashley S. 

A:

From Sandra, our Behaviorist:

Aside from leash walking, here are some other tips to sneak exercise into a cats daily routine without introducing a new playmate.  

- Put some of his food in a very easy exercise ball  so he has to begin to move for his food. Once he masters you can gradually increase the difficulty of effort needed to get food.

- Put his food bowl on raised surfaces so he has to jump to access food

- If the opportunity is there to add wall shelving do so as this could encourage him to take advantage of vertical spaces

- Look for ways to encourage exploration of the whole house if he is only hanging out in a few select places. This would mean find out what resources are important for him (e.g. food, water, rest zones, toys, outdoor viewing etc.) and making sure they are spread out rather than concentrated in a small space.

- Lasers

- Cat agility training – create your own obstacle course in your house taking advantage of heights. Small bites of wet cat food can serve as a powerful reinforcement for food-motivated cats

- Variety –some cats can get easily bored with the same toys and so could benefit from new toys or even getting a break from the old ones every now and then.

A fixed play routine can create expectancy for some cats to play!

MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WEIGHT

Q:

Kitty turned 9-years old in February. He's healthy, but he's getting a belly (almost 18 lbs.) Since he's healthy, I want to keep him that way and switch him to Purina ONE Indoor Advantage, since it's fewer carbs and more protein. Since it's higher in protein, will this make him gain weight?  - Purina ONE Fan Mary M.

A:

From Jan, our Nutritionist:

For cats that need some help attaining a healthy weight and ideal body condition, it’s not only the total calories that matter but having an appropriate ratio of protein to fat in their food and feeding the proper amount of food. Our Purina ONE SmartBlend Indoor Advantage has a higher percentage of calories coming from protein in addition to being a lower calorie food as compared to our other adult cat formulas. I recommend starting him on 1 cup/day of the ONE Indoor and splitting this into 2-3 feedings. As he loses weight you will need to follow the recommended feeding amounts on the package and adjust his food amounts accordingly. You can also encourage him to be more active by adding specific playtime into his schedule.  For example, encourage him to play with you and a favorite toy for a 10 – 15 minute period at least a couple of times per day!

FEEDING A CAT WITH DENTAL PROBLEMS

Q:

Our older cat, 12, has lost a couple of teeth and is done 9 pounds. I think she is skipping the dry food during the day and only eating the wet food I give them in the evening. Is this healthy? Is there a "softer" try food I can give her? I try to stick to the urinary health dry food given her age. - Purina ONE fan Sherrylinn C.

A:

From Jan, our Nutritionist:

It is OK for your 12-year-old cat to eat wet food only as it is 100% complete and balanced. However, I agree that she may not be getting enough food and/or calories to meet her needs. It is important to ensure that she gets the right amount of food based on her current body weight, so start by feeding the recommended amount listed on the can label.

It sounds like you may have at least one other cat and sometimes they compete for food, so you may want to try and feed your older cat in a different place and in a separate shallow bowl or flat plate than your other cat(s). Purina ONE does not have a canned-food version of our ONE Urinary Tract Health Formula, but you can try soaking the food in a small amount of warm (not hot) water to soften it up and make it easier for her to eat. Just make sure you change the soaked food more frequently to ensure freshness, don’t leave it out all day!

CATS AND VEGETABLES

Q:

Everything I've read said that cats cannot digest vegetables. Why are so many cat foods including them? - Purina ONE fan Linda G.

A:

From Jan, our Nutritionist:

Cats, like humans, require nutrients such as protein, fat and even carbohydrates. These nutrients can come from different types of sources. It is true that the domestic cat is a carnivore, but they do have the ability to digest plant material. It just depends on the amount, type, and quality of this plant material and also on how it is processed.

For example, many canned cat foods contain vegetable ingredients that are cooked along with the meats during processing. This cooking process helps breakdown the cell walls in the vegetables, making them easier for cats to digest and use the nutrients from the plant materials. The same thing is true for many dry products that use grains as well as vegetables and/or fruits as sources of nutrients.

CATS AND COD LIVER OIL

Q:        

Is cod liver oil safe for cats and should I add it my cat's food? - Purina ONE fan Linda G.

A:

From Jan, our Nutritionist:

We would not advise adding cod liver oil on top of your cat’s food. Cod liver oil can be very high in vitamins A & D and adding the oil to your cat's food could mean the levels of these two vitamins are much too high. If you are feeding a product that is 100% complete and balanced, then it should already provide the right amount of all essential nutrients, including vitamins A & D.

Sometimes people may add cod liver oil to improve the taste of their cat’s food, but we would recommend that if you are feeding dry food only, you try moistening it with water or try mixing it with a small amount of wet cat food that is also 100% complete and balanced. If you are adding oil to a wet food product to improve taste, then we would recommend that you transition your cat to a different flavor to see if he/she likes it better. You can also visit PurinaONE.com/cats to find more tips on feeding wet & dry food together!

FEEDING CATS AND DOGS

Q:        

I have an older cat with a hyperthyroid condition that needs to gain weight, a younger cat that is slightly overweight, and a dog that will eat anything if I'm not constantly watching them. How do I handle feeding all of them? - Purina ONE fan Janet L.

A:

From Sandra, our Behaviorist:

When different pets in the house have different dietary needs its best to find a way to separate them at mealtime. Try to give each cat a separate feeding place, preferably in separate rooms if possible. You can also try feeding the cats on a raised surface that the dog can’t easily access to prevent the dog from stealing food. And be sure to “meal feed” all of the pets at the same time, rather than having food out constantly for the cats. That way they can each be at their own station eating their own food at the same time. And finally, be sure your hyperthyroid cat visits the veterinarian for proper treatment.

FICKLE EATER

Q:

Freckles is 21 and weighs almost five pounds and has always been small. She has trouble chewing now and one day she likes something, the next day she doesn't. The veterinarian says at her age to feed her whatever she will eat. Any ideas of something that may tempt her appetite would be appreciated. - Purina ONE fan Kathy B. 




A:

From Sandra, our Behaviorist:


First off congratulations for helping Freckles to live to the ripe old age of 21! It sounds like at this point Freckles will be more inclined to eat if there is variety in her diet. You don’t mention if she eats both dry and wet – hopefully she eats both as this will afford her a lot of options for variety.


Dry Food


Don’t top off – for some cats freshness can be an issue and so it is best to feed her a fresh bowl of dry food daily. Please use a clean bowl daily. If it appears freshness matters to Freckles then I suggest you purchase small bags of food and keep tightly closed at all times.



Wet Food


Feed in a low flat plate. When it comes to wet food, cats can have very specific preferences when it comes to flavor and form and so you will have to experiment to see what flavors and forms appeal to Freckles. Hopefully you will find a nice range so you can rotate through enough flavors to prevent her from getting bored. Since she is on the small side it is very likely she will not take large meals and so I would suggest you stick with 3 oz or smaller cans because Freckles may not want portions that were refrigerated.


Mix Wet & Dry


You can try and see if Freckles will eat a mix of wet and dry. Not all cats like this so no guarantees but it is worth a try. If Freckles does like then you will want to meal feed instead of free feed.



Treats & Treating


Some cat treats are nutritionally complete and so can be suitable to feed to Freckles. One trick I have used before with a senior cat (who also was quite particular about her food) and it worked for her was to take a few pieces of her favorite treat and mix it in with her dry food. Most of the time she would eat both her dry food and her treat.
You may be able to get Freckles to eat during periods of socialization. If you create a daily routine of say grooming (not sure if Freckles is still playing at 21=)) and then to end the session you give her treats – she may be willing to eat a few kibbles at the end of the session.



Location of Food and Water Bowl


Keep her food and water bowl in its normal position. However if you notice she now prefers to stay in a specific place (e.g. now she hangs out mainly downstairs but her food is upstairs or vice versa) then I would suggest to also put food and water in that place as well. I also recommend clean fresh water daily or a water fountain. If the water is not fresh it is possible for this to also affect Freckles feeding behavior.


FEEDING MULTIPLE CATS

Q:

A couple weeks ago, our fan Tara M. asked about how to put her cat Sunshine, who is 48lbs, on a diet, when he lives in a home with multiple cats.

A:

From Sandra, our Behaviorist: 

Since Sunshine is grossly overweight it is very important that a visit to the veterinarian happens to discuss safely losing weight. So much weight may even require clinical exercise intervention. Care must be taken not to do too many things at once that could stress one or more of the cats out. So please visit your veterinarian, and follow their recommendations to put together a specific plan for Sunshine.

There are many cats who need help maintaining a healthy weight.  It can especially be tough to deal with this in a multi-cat household.  I can offer a few general tips for people who are working on helping their cats stay fit.  First, be sure to feed them in their own bowls, so each can get the right amount and type of food. Then if your veterinarian okays it, consider shifting everyone to a weight management diet. Once they have become adapted to the new diet then consider shifting from free feeding to meal feeding where if possible their daily allotment of food is divided into 3 or more meals.

Begin to create daily play routines with your cats so they can have structured exercise – the sessions can be as short as 5 minutes but try to get at least 15 minutes daily (again should get approval from veterinarian). Also start to look for ways to sneak activity into your cat’s daily routine – e.g. does she like to look out the window? If yes, then try putting a tree next to the window that makes her have to climb to get to the view.  Put a portion of her meal in a puzzle feeder.

Some other general don’ts –

·         Don’t change the litter box arrangement unless there are elimination issues.
·         Don’t give up! Please note it takes time for cats to lose weight safely so do not get discouraged – make a plan, stick with it and be patient.

CAT ALLERGIES

Q:

A few weeks ago, our fan Lacie C. asked if cats with allergies were on the rise, and also, what causes them? Would steroid shots help allergy flare ups?

A:

From Deb, our Veterinarian:

I consulted with a board certified veterinary dermatologist. While there isn’t a reported increase in the incidence of allergies in cats, allergies are a common cause of skin disease in cats. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine the underlying cause of itching and skin bumps. A referral to a board certified dermatologist is the best way to determine the underlying cause. Possibilities include flea, food or inhaled allergies.  It’s best to visit your veterinarian or a board certified dermatologist to determine what exactly is causing the allergy and work out a specific treatment plan.

REGULAR UPDATES

Be sure to check back regularly as we’ll be making frequent updates to this article.  Or follow along with our Purina ONE® Cats community on Facebook.