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Understanding the benefits of rehabilitation diets for Cats

Good nutrition is especially important for a cat which has been ill, injured, had an operation or not eaten for several days. Feeding a rehabilitation diet at this time will help provide the additional energy needed by a convalescing cat, when wound healing is taking place and the cat needs to fight infection. Supplying high quality nutrients (protein, fats, minerals and vitamins) in the right amounts also prevents the body from using its own important tissues as energy sources during this time of stress.

During recovery your cat may feel weak and tire easily. He or she will probably spend more time than usual resting or sleeping which helps to conserve energy and mend tissues while the body is getting back to normal. During the convalescent period, nutrition and feeding are especially important. You may have to encourage your cat to eat by taking the food to him or feeding by hand, always make sure he has a constant supply of fresh drinking water.

Helpful hints

  • Feed little and often, dividing the daily allowance of food into several small meals of fresh food.

  • Warm food gently to just below body temperature,

  • Remove food if they are not interested after 15 minutes or so and try again later, your cat is likely to respond better to fresh food.

  • Try offering food by hand

Conditions requiring rehabilitation diets

Rehabilitation diets are formulated to provide nutritional support for the debilitated, stressed or traumatised animal or for those with high energy needs. They can be used in the following circumstances:

  • Anorexia

  • Malnutrition

  • Inability to eat due to mouth or throat problems

  • Stress following surgery, injury or ill health

  • Intensive care

  • Pregnancy, lactation, growth

  • Feline hepatic lipidosis

Nutritional structure

Proteins are the major building blocks in the repair process and are important in maintaining the immune system, which helps your cat to fight infection. Protein requirements of the convalescing cat are usually higher than for the normal healthy cat. Increased protein promotes wound healing.

Fats and carbohydrates are excellent sources of energy, which is needed in larger amounts than normal for repairing the tissues affected by illness, injury or surgery and to fight infection. Increasing the fat level of the diet provides a more ‘concentrated’ food so your cat can receive the higher levels of energy and nutrients needed in a smaller amount of food. Fat and omega 3 fatty acids help to avoid post surgical complications and help to manage inflammation.

Certain minerals and vitamins are important in the healing process. Diets designed for convalescence must have the correct balance of minerals and vitamins to avoid the depletion of body stores and provide those needed for the period of recovery. Zinc and potassium improve wound healing.

  • An increased protein level promotes restoration of lean body mass and increases palatability during the postoperative period.

  • Omega-3 long chain fatty acids help maintain joint mobility, skin health and digestion.

  • Chondroitin helps prevent cartilage breakdown.

  • Glucosamine stimulates the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid.

  • Small feeding volumes with high energy content

  • texture facilitates syringe feeding and tube feeding

  • Hospitalised cats often have a decreased appetite and weight loss. The high palatability of rehabilitation diets promotes spontaneous consumption.

  • The synergistic antioxidant complex (vitamin E, vitamin C, taurine and lutein) helps neutralise free radicals produced during body metabolism and promotes good health of the immune system.

  • high energy concentration

  • Highly digestible ingredients compensate for the decreased activity of intestinal enzymes, ensuring an optimal nutrient supply.

Key Benefits

  • Concentrated nutrition to allow for small feeding volumes

  • Highly palatable and digestible

  • Supplemented with B-complex vitamins

  • Enriched with an optimum antioxidant complex

Diets available

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Convalescence Support

A complete dietetic feeding stuff intended for cats & cats for nutritional restoration during convalescence.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Feline Sensitivity Control Recovery

Recovery pack helps your cat when recovering from digestive upsets, surgical procedures or other situations requiring a highly digestible diet.

Hills Prescription Diet Canine / Feline A/D

Intended for the nutritional management of cats recovering from serious illness, accidents and surgery.  Cats can undergo significant changes when faced with a serious illness, injury or surgery. They may have trouble maintaining natural defences and sparing lean body mass (in other words, they may be losing body weight from muscle or organ tissue), which can affect recovery. 

 Hills Prescription Diet Feline I/D

Diet Feline i/d was developed to help manage GI disorders in cats, such as flatulence, diarrhoea (small intestinal and certain large intestinal), pancreatitis and gastric disorders

This article is intended as a guide only. Always follow your vet’s instructions regarding your cat’s feeding requirements.