It's important to keep our pets healthy all year round, so over-indulging them during the holiday season might do them more harm than good. The UK-based Cats Protection charity, which helps over 205,000 cats every year through its network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 31 adoption centers, says it’s important that cats are not overfed during the festivities. Cats Protection advises the following tips for those concerned about the weight of their feline friends.
1. Keep track of treats. It's a good idea to measure food daily in accordance with the packaging guidelines, so that you know how much your cat should be eating. Remember that any treats will add calories to this daily ration. If you like to give your cat treats throughout the day, it is much better to put a small amount of the daily portion aside so that you don’t increase the total amount of food consumed.
2. If you wish to give additional treats, it is best to stick to specially-produced treats for cats. Avoid food intended for humans, such as chocolate.
3. Stick to cat food in general. While cooked fish or chicken is sometimes used to stimulate a cat’s appetite, other human foods should be avoided for kitties. Food containing onions — or even onion powder — can be potentially toxic for a cat if ingested. Avoid giving a cat milk that comes from a cow. Around a third of cats can’t tolerate it and it can lead to sickness and diarrhea. It is best to stick to cat food treats rather than leftovers or raw meat, although a little bit of well-cooked fresh chicken or fish is okay.
4. Be strict with the cat — and yourself — when it comes to treat time. If you’re tempted to give extra treats, remember that cats often appreciate attention or playtime with their owner more than food, and that can strengthen your bond with your cat even more.
5. Be aware of non-food items your cat may nibble on. Holly, ivy, and mistletoe are all potentially toxic to cats, so if you choose to have them in the home, place them far away from your cat’s reach. If you receive any plants as Christmas gifts, be sure that they are safe for cats. A full list of potentially harmful plants can be found on the International Cat Care website here.
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