Exotic cats demand exotic food. Their nutritional requirements are different from domestic cats. Their diet should consist of very high levels of fat and proteins. Also important is the arachadonic acid which is found in animal cells. This fatty acid derivative is one of the essentials, along with vitamin B and nicotinic acid. Otherwise it can affect the growth and the reproductive system of these animals and will lead to reproductive system failure and metabolic diseases.
Problems such as blood clotting, immune system malfunction, vision problems and even heart failure can occur if their diet lacks taurine or amino acid. When the animals aren’t fed with whole animals and just meat products, they can develop deficiencies like cystine, arginine, and methionine. This especially applies to the bigger cats. Exotic cats’ digestive system cannot modify the provitamin cartenoids, like beta carotene, to change them into retinol or vitamin A.
The young ones should be fed with diet rich in calcium. They can get this from milk and even bones which they eat along with the meat. The bones contain the right amounts of phosphorus and calcium to facilitate the growth of healthier bones and joints. They also help the healthy development of gums and teeth. So it is really important to give meat with bones and not just meat chunks. If they eat only meat, the balance is lost and cubs become prone to bone and joint diseases such as rickets. Even when the matured ones are fed with only meat minus the bones, they become prone to bone and joint diseases such as arthritis, osteomalacia and get other problems such as joint pains and soft bones.
The calcium content should be at least one percent of the whole food given to them. Twice or thrice a week they can be given bones with very less meat on it, for example, ribs, tails, thighbones, vertebral bones, pelvis, necks and beef shanks. Oyster shells can also be fed, as it contains three times more calcium than other food products. Most of the captive cats have tartar, which can only be removed with proper calcium enriched food. If the tartar development is not controlled, it could lead to teeth loss and bacterial development which could poison the bloodstream. The poisoned bloods will then flow to other internal organs and damage them. If the animals aren’t fed with sufficient calcium enriched bones, a quantity of twenty smashed tablets of calcium carbonate weighing seven hundred and fifty milligrams can be given along with four pounds of meat. Extra amount should be given to pregnant and nursing females.
The respiratory and digestive systems are dependant on the supply of vitamin A. Insufficient amount can conjunctivitis, blindness, pelvic limb paralysis and tract infections. In males, it reduces the sperm count; both quantity and quality wise, and can actually lead to sexual organ failure. By looking at an animal it can be determined that it has vitamin A deficiency, if it has thin, lusterless and poor fur. A great source of vitamin A is liver.
Fat is also very essential and usually the chunk meat is lean. The larger the size of the animal, the more fat it requires. Insufficient quantity of fats leads to irregular excretion, coarse fur, and dandruff. Chicken backs are a good solution to this problem.
On an average, bigger animals eat between nine to eighteen pounds daily, when held in captivity. This figure is less that what animals eat in the wild, because captive animals burn lesser calories. Some animals like lions and tiger have the ability to eat hundred pounds at once and then go without eating anything, for days. Bigger cats can be given meals for five days and can be made to fast for the rest two days of the week. The food should also be stored below zero degree so as to retain its nutritional value and freshness. Frozen meat can also be given to the animal or the meat can be thawed just before feeding.