Cats have particularly unusual nutrient needs. These include:
Your Cat doesn't have the ability to convert the carotene found in plants to vitamin A. His source of vitamin A must come from liver, kidney and other organ meats. If a Cat lacks vitamin A in his diet, poor growth, weight loss, damage to cell membranes and decreased resistance to disease are among the possible consequences. More importantly, female Cats may fail to cycle, the embryo may fail to implant or the pregnant cat may abort or produce kittens with abnormalities, such as a cleft palate.
Your Cat is unable to synthesize niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, due to an excess of a certain enzyme. Therefore, unlike other animals, his requirement for niacin must be met entirely from niacin present in animal tissues (plants are low in niacin). Deficiencies include weight loss, loss of appetite, unkempt fur and wounds around the mouth.
Essential Fatty Acids:
Your Cat requires sufficient arachidonic acid, a fatty acid found only in animal tissue. Therefore, he/she requires some animal fat in his diet. Dermatitis and poor reproductive performance are among the deficiency symptoms.
Your Cat's taurine requirement is quite high. Naturally Cats obtain taurine, an amino acid, from muscle meats. Fish and shellfish are also exceptionally good sources. Taurine deficiency can produce central retinal degeneration (CRD), a form of blindness. Besides CRD, deficiency symptoms of taurine include poor reproduction and dilated cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease).
In addition to these dietary peculiarities, your Cat requires a high amount of protein in his/her diet, about 12 percent in comparison to 4 percent for adult dogs. And SBT Bengals require even more protein, plus Foundation Bengals require more protein than the fully domestic SBT's. Unlike you, your Cat does very well on a diet which includes a higher percent of fat than what humans require. Fat gives him needed energy, assists the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such A and E, and adds taste. Fat also adds to his needed calories, a daily requirement of about 35 kilocalories per pound of body weight.
You can either feed your Cat at least two meals a day or leave food out for snacking. In order to fulfill his/her needs, feed them one ounce of canned food daily, or 1/3 ounce of dry food, per pound of body weight. On the average that is about a 1/2 cup of dry food a day. Most young Cats (one to four years of age) are very active and self-regulate their food intake, thereby maintaining a healthy body weight.
As your Cat ages, he may slow down and begin putting on extra weight. Monitor his weight - if he's becoming too fat, consult your veterinarian.
Remember, water is also an important nutrient. Cats needs fresh, clean water daily in a fresh, clean water dish. Your Cat drinks about twice the amount of water as he/she consumes in dry food, though since canned Cat food in greater than 75 percent water, they will barely drink, when their diet consists of canned Cat food only.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of "complete and balanced" cat foods. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations follow the national consensus recommendations for feline foods and will state on the label: "formulated to meet the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile for...(a given life stage).
Consider Your Cat's Age:
* For Kittens (up to 8-9 months of age): Feed your Kitten a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry cat food designed for Kittens. Nutro's brand of food has formulas for both Kittens and for adult Cats. Feed Kittens as much as they want to eat, because the first year of a Cat's life is all about growth and maturing into a healthy Cat.
* For adult Cats (1-9 years): Feed your Cat a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry cat food designed for an "adult" Cat. It is best to continue with the "Nutro's Natural Choice" brand of food that we recommend.
* For senior Cats (8-9+ years): Feed your Cat a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry cat food designed for a "senior" Cat. Again the Nutro's brand is appropriate, however, there is a different version specifically formulated for a senior Cat and you may switch to that formula.
Consider Your Cat's Body Condition:
* Underweight Cats: Feed your cat 1-1/2 times the "usual" amount of food and make an appointment to see your veterinarian about your Cat's body condition. Consider augmenting their food with meats and treats to add a higher protein and fat content to their food in take.
* Lean Cats: Many healthy Cats are a bit thin, especially active young male Cats and un-neutered breeding males. Consider increasing total daily food or caloric intake by 25 percent. Weigh your Cat every week, if possible, to chart progress.
* Chubby Cats: If your Cat is a bit overweight, try increasing the daily exercise routine. Gradually increase exercise over two weeks unless limited by a medical condition. Most Cats like to play and Bengals especially like to interact with and be with their humans. If these measures fail, cut out all treats and reduce daily intake of food by up to 25 percent.
* Fat or obese cats: Stop all treats except hairball medicines if needed. Increase exercise gradually over 2-3 weeks if not limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, reduce the total daily food amount by 25 percent to 40 percent, switch to a low fat/high fiber diet, and call your veterinarian to discuss plans. Inquire about prescription-type reduction diets that can really be effective while providing balanced nutrition. However, please note that Bengals rarely ever are over weight, as they are a very active breed of feline throughout their lives.