Cat Food Tips To Make Your Wild Savannah Feel Right At Home
The best way to protect your cat's health is to provide a great diet. Investing in high-quality food will save you hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of dollars in veterinarian bills. But which food is best for your Savannah cat?
Your breeder will provide advice on how to feed your new family member but breeders do not all agree on what is the best food for your Savannah cat.
Savannahs need a lot of protein but there is an active debate on whether raw food, wet food, dry food or a combination of these foods is the best way to get it. So how do you choose the ideal food for your beautiful Savannah cat?
Once your cat is settled into your household (with familiar food) begin to experiment with different cat foods:
- Try some high quality food from your grocery store for several months and record the food costs.
- Gradually change to a premium food purchased on-line, from a pet supply store or from your veterinarian and record the food costs.
- Note which food your Savannah prefers and evaluate the cat's energy level and appearance.
Before you begin your experiment, be sure you only choose foods that are of great quality.
Cat Food Labels
The first step when reading a cat food label is to look for a statement that the food meets the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The statement might be:
"Provides complete and balanced nutrition for the growth and maintenance of cats as substantiated through testing in accordance with AAFCO feeding protocols."
...or it could be a shorter statement:
"formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile."
Many pet experts believe that the AAFCO standards are too low, so if the food does not meet this minimum requirement, move on to the next brand.
Once you see that the AAFCO standard has been met, look for the following:
- The words "complete and balanced" as these foods will be healthier for your cat.
- Life stages. Some cat foods are formulated for "all life stages" while others cater to "kitten," "adult," or "senior." Choose the food that is right for the life stage of your cat.
- Animal protein (such as chicken, fish, liver, or beef) should be the first ingredient on the label.
- The "dry weight protein" should be at least 26% for an adult cat. Kittens need even more protein.
- Manufacturer contact information so that you can inquire about the company's quality control, feeding trials, and ingredients.
Dry Food Or Wet Food?
Healthy cat food can be both dry (kibble) and wet. While some breeders argue that only wet food (or raw food) is acceptable for a Savannah, others are winning cat show awards with quality kibble and wet food.
Most people find that on-demand feeding with kibble in addition to a serving of wet food in the morning and evening works best for their cat and their own schedule. Having fresh water available at all time is especially important when the cat is eating dry food.
How Much Food Should You Serve?
The cat food label will provide guidelines on how much food you should serve a healthy cat. But Savannahs are a little different than other cats as they can range in weight from 10 pounds to over 30 pounds.
A 10 pound (4.5 kg) Savannah will usually be happy with half of a 6 oz tin of food in the morning and the other half in the evening with a half cup of kibble available throughout the day.
Larger cats will require more. Fortunately, Savannah cats are so energetic and active that they will let you know how much food they need and over-eating and obesity are almost unknown.
Some professional breeders recommend feeding canned food to kittens three times a day until they are six months old and then twice a day as the kitten matures.
The amount can be adjusted to what the kitten or cat eats in 15 minutes so that you are not wasting food, as long as there is always kibble available for them to snack on and lots of fresh water.
High quality cat food should have all the necessary nutrition that your Savannah needs and supplements should be unnecessary unless recommended by your veterinarian.
While some Savannah breeders agree that supplements are unnecessary and may even be harmful, others recommend:
- calcium for growing cats and earlier generations,
- omega 3-6-9 oil,
- daily multi-vitamins and
- daily cranberry and herbal urinary blend to ensure good bladder health in male cats.
Most Savannah breeders agree that Savannahs have a need for more taurine than the average domestic cat.
Taurine is now a requirement of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Any dry or wet food approved by AAFCA will have a minimum of 0.1% taurine in dry food and 0.2% in wet food.
If you're using poor quality foods, the absence of taurine can cause eye problems and irreversible blindness, a condition known as central retinal degeneration (CRD).
It can also cause hair loss, tooth decay and feline dilated cariomyopathy (enlarged and weakened heart) which unlike CRD can be reversed with supplementation.
Before supplementing your high quality cat food, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.
Changing Your Cat Food
It is great to change the flavour of the canned food you are using to provide variety in your Savannah's diet. But rather than change brands, continue with one brand of high quality cat food.
If you decide to change brands, it is important to: (a) maintain the same level of nutrition and (b) make the change gradually so that it is easier on your cat's digestive system.
Treats For Your Savannah
There is no reason not to give your cat healthy treats as long as they don't make up more than 10% of its daily food intake.
It is usually best to give them to your cat sparingly and only one or two at a time. And be sure to give your Savannah healthy treats and not junk food.
What Not To Feed Your Savannah
Never give your cat "people food" treats. These are bad for your kitty's digestion and could also be poisonous.
Table scraps should never be substituted for cat food or used as treats. Seasonings and preservatives such as benzoic acid may be toxic to your cat.
It is also thought that propylene glycol, used in some processed human foods, may damage a cat's red blood cells.
Raw fish can cause vitamin E deficiency in cats if served in large quantities.
Commercial cat food that contains fish is supplemented with vitamin E which is not true of canned fish (such as tuna and salmon) that are sold for human consumption.
Milk is dangerous for your cat even in small quantities. Not only are cats deficient in the lactase needed to digest milk properly but cow's milk is significantly different than cat's milk.
When fed to kittens (and many adult cats) milk may cause diarrhea, dehydration, fatigue and malnourishment.
Liver may cause problems to any cat but especially kittens because of its high levels of vitamin A. It is also a laxative and a poorly balanced food.
Don't feed candy to your Savannah or any cat. Cats aren't naturally attracted to sweet things and cocoa can be toxic to them.
Loss Of Appetite
If your Savannah stops eating after a few bites or repeatedly wanders off without eating... consult with your veterinarian immediately.