are not simply small dogs metabolically, but rather, obligate carnivores
with different nutritional needs.
Addressing taurine deficiencies in
commercial diets was also big then.
The 1990s seemed to be the start of
the trend of premium diets and the
misconception, in my opinion, that
cost has a relationship to the quality
of commercial cat foods.
The early 2000s marked an
explosion of small companies
entering the market to make cat
food. This decade is also when
companies heavily marketed their
food based on the emotional
needs of owners with more cats
becoming indoor cats.
Q: Why are some indoor cats
Dr. Tony: One reason I think that
some cats are called finicky about
foods is that they are in an environment that they perceive to be
threatening. Cats in nature are more
interested in foods in environments
that they perceive they can control
and feel safe in. The same applies to
our indoor cats.
Q: So, how can we make inside
our homes feel safer for our cats,
especially at mealtime?
Dr. Tony: Take the time to really
assess the surroundings. If a cat is
fed next to a dishwasher or a washing machine that comes on unexpectedly (to them), these sounds
become threatening because the
cat can’t control them. Avoid having
multiple cats eat from one dish.
Food is an important resource. Make
sure one cat is not resource guarding
the bowl and preventing the other
cat from the food. Feed them in
separate rooms, if necessary.
Q: What’s the best way to introduce new food to an indoor cat?
Dr. Tony: Rather than gradually
mixing in new dry food with the
cat’s current food, place down two
bowls of food. One contains the
cat’s current food and one contains
the new food. Let your cat decide
which one to eat. When you give
cats the power of choice for food,
you can increase their perception of
feeling more in control and feeling
Q: What type of proteins do cats
tend to digest best – beef, chicken,
Dr. Tony: There is no one best
type of protein. Protein is protein.
Q: Why do you regard indoor
cats as animals in well-managed
Dr. Tony: Indoor cats are captive
cats in a sense because they are
confined like zoo animals. People
need to start thinking about adopting strategies employed in quality
zoos that enrich the environment
of their indoor cats. Animals in
zoos work for their food. So,
instead of always feeding your
indoor cat from a bowl, encourage
him to hunt for his food on occasion by using food puzzles. There
is evidence in the research literature that stimulating activities like
food puzzles stimulate the brain as
well as improve musculoskeletal
Q: How can people ensure
that their indoor cats are drinking
enough water to stay hydrated?
Dr. Tony: Cats can hydrate themselves as long as they have access
to what they perceive to be safe
drinking water. They need to be able
to drink water without worrying that
the dog or other cat in the house
will sneak up and attack them.
Observe your cat’s water habits.
Some cats like to drink from running
water — that’s why they drink from
a faucet. Others prefer drinking
still water in bowls. Look for signs
that your cat is hydrated: eyes are
glistening, mouth is moist, and skin
bounces back when lifted.
Q: Several readers tell us that
their homes have skinny cats and
big, food-motivated cats. What
advice can you give them to make
sure their slender cats eat without
interference from the bigger, bolder felines?
Dr. Tony: When one cat bullies another or guards the food
bowls, that’s evidence of conflict
between the two cats. One way to
reduce the level of conflict is to
get a big plastic storage box. Turn
it upside down so that the lid is
on the floor. Make an opening at
the top that is only big enough for
the smaller cat to fit through. The
space inside the storage box is big
enough for him to comfortably
eat. You can also give the thinner
cat an extra meal in a separate
room while another person in the
house plays with the fatter cat in
To learn more about bringing
out the best in your feline friend,
visit indoorpet.osu.edu and download Dr. Buffington’s new e-book,
Arden Moore is a pet
behavior consultant, author
and master pet first aid
instructor who often teach-
es hands-on classes with
her cool cat, Casey and
very tolerant dog, Chipper. Each week,
she hosts the Oh Behave show on Pet Life
Radio. Learn more at www.fourleggedlife.
com and follow Arden on Facebook and
on Twitter at @ArdenKnowsPets.
Curious about your cat’s eating habits?
Dash your feline food-related questions
to Catster magazine feline nutrition col-
umnist Arden Moore, who will dish out
advice about healthy eating habits for
your feline. Email your questions today