Mistakes People Make in Feeding Cats (cont.)
Cat Feeding Mistakes: Adding Garlic for Tapeworms
Some of us have seen those strange wiggly white segments near our cat's posterior. About the size of rice grains, those segments belong to a tapeworm that's taken residence in your cat's small intestine. Some believe the best home remedy to foil these squirmy parasites is fresh, pungent garlic added to kitty's chow.
"This is one of the biggest misconceptions around," Bartges tells WebMD. "There is no proof that garlic prevents any parasitic infestation, including intestinal worms or fleas." On top of that, if given in too high of a dose, garlic can destroy a cat's red blood cells.
The most common parasite found inside adult cats, tapeworms are usually caused by kitty swallowing a flea. Although tapeworms aren't life-threatening, they can lead to weight loss, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and other issues if left untreated.
So why garlic to the rescue? "I believe the origin of this is that people thought garlic prevents fleas," Case says. "But feeding your cat garlic doesn't prevent fleas or prevent tapeworms."
If you notice tapeworm segments in your cat's feces or near the anus, talk to your veterinarian, who will probably prescribe an oral deworming medication. Don't treat kitty's worms yourself -- not all treatments work on all worms and you could end up doing more harm than good with the wrong medication.
Cat Feeding Mistakes: Going Vegetarian or Vegan
According to some vets, another up-and-coming mistake made when feeding cats is trying to make cats vegetarians or vegans.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat mainly meat and animal organs to thrive. The amino acid taurine, for example, is found only in animal tissue. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experience heart or respiratory problems, blindness, and even death.
"The nutrients cats need that come from meat, can be provided in the food synthetically," Case says. "But you have to be very careful, and aware of the cat's nutritional idiosyncrasies." Because most of us aren't quite sure of our own nutritional needs, it can be next to impossible to guess the needs of our cats.