In the country, or in a small house where the cat has full freedom of the kitchen and back yard, very little attention is required in regard to feeding, as the animal will pick up from the scraps the very diet which it is best for it to have. When cats, however, are kept in closer confinement, and in city houses, more attention must be paid to their food ; for inattention to this is the principal cause of most of the maladies with which they are affected. In the first place, the dishes from which a cat is fed must be absolutely and immaculately clean, and at each fresh feed should be scalded before they are used again. Milk is not only the traditional diet of the cat, but also forms one of the principal articles of food for it. The milk should be perfectly fresh, as sour milk is apt to produce digestive troubles, especially diarrhoea. Sour milk, however, is useful sometimes as an adjunct in the treatment of worms.
Cats Eating Milk
While the cat drinks a considerable quantity of milk, it prefers water when it is really thirsty, although it takes only a very small quantity of this. The water, like the milk, should be in an absolutely clean pan. There is a very useful pan which can be found in porcelain at the china-shops, or can be readily made by a tinner consisting of a pan divided in the center by a partition, in which the milk is placed at one side and the fresh water at the other this insures that the water is emptied out each time the milk is replaced, in order to clean the pan and allow it to be perfectly fresh. Bread (preferably stale bread) and the ordinary crackers, water biscuit, or oatmeal biscuit, can be added to the milk. Spratt’s Patent has a cake for cats which is very useful for occasional diet.
Oat-meal porridge forms an excellent diet, and vegetables should be given from time to time. Most cats are very fond of asparagus and celery, but will at times eat almost any vegetable. In cases of diarrhoea or looseness a little boiled rice is a good addition to the milk. There seems to be a prejudice on the part of some people against the feeding of meat to cats, which is unwarranted 5 and a cat is better for an occasional feed of meat even once a day in small quantities. They much prefer it raw, and prefer mutton to beef. The traditional cat-meat of the ” cat-meat man,” which is known so well in England, is made of horse-flesh, and is a wholesome, good food; but the marketing of that is practically unknown in America.
Feeding Fish to Cats
Fish is a very favorite diet with the cat, and can be given from time to time ; but the fish should be perfectly fresh, as all meat ought to be, for putrid meat is much more apt to produce digestive troubles in cats than it does in the other carnivora ; in addition to which, its use by the animal gives it an offensive odor in the house.
In resume, the diet of the cat, with a basis of sweet, fresh milk, can be made up of any of the foregoing articles, if care is only taken to insure the absolute cleanliness of the pans from which the animal is fed, the good condition of the food itself, and that the diet shall be varied. Often when a cat has been kept on one diet steadily for some time it loses its appetite, and appears dumpish, or even ill, when a simple change of food will bring it back to itself at once. Boiled liver is useful once in a week or ten days, or when the cat is a little off its feed, as it acts as a laxative. It is not, however, good diet for regular use.