As pet owners, we bear an important responsibility to feed our cats a nutritionally appropriate diet. One way we can do this is by learning to read food labels accurately and understand their contents.
Understanding and meeting your cat’s individual dietary needs are also essential in prolonging and improving its life. Doing this will enable him or her to live a longer and healthier existence.
1. Get Your Cat Hungry
Your cat requires a certain number of calories each day to remain active, eat healthily and remain at an ideal body weight (BCS). Eating too little may lead to health issues like obesity; if this becomes apparent it’s essential that you consult both with their veterinarian and nutritionist on finding an individualized solution plan for them.
Pet owners may mistake their cat’s behavior as signs of hunger. Meowing and rubbing against owners are typically signals that your feline wants attention rather than hunger. If this occurs frequently, try placing food in different spots or giving smaller portions. Warm water added to dry kibble can also help stimulate their appetite.
Unchanged appetite can also be due to illness, like hyperthyroidism or diabetes, for which your veterinarian may recommend appetite stimulants or liquid diets. If your pet stops eating altogether, however, call your vet immediately; in extreme cases they may even suggest syringe-feeding your pet or placing a feeding tube based on his individual circumstances to make sure they receive all necessary nutrition based on his situation. Our Ultimate Guide to Feeding Your Cat can provide assistance!
2. Feeding Frequency
Cats typically graze on small meals throughout the day when left on their own, and any longer than 8 hours without food may send hunger signals back to their bodies. Therefore, setting a regular feeding schedule can ensure your cat always has access to food at regular intervals.
Wild cats would hunt nearly constantly to obtain their calories and nutrients. A typical day for one of these predatory felines would involve eight-12 meals eaten throughout the day to prevent food buildup in their digestive systems and make digestion simpler.
Kittens need to eat more frequently while growing. A kitten’s mother may nurse them up to six times per day in order to teach the kitten proper digestion of food and prepare it for adulthood. Once your kitten reaches adulthood, you can feed less frequently if she reaches a healthy weight.
Weighting your cat on a regular basis can help you determine if they need additional food, and also give you a way to monitor their body condition if any bones protrude or they have excessive fat on their bodies.
3. Weight Control
If your cat is overweight and you want her to lose weight safely, your veterinarian can offer guidance. Start by determining how many calories she consumes each day just to maintain her current weight; measure uneaten food over 1 or 2 weeks to calculate this figure; divide that figure by your cat’s poundage and get her daily caloric consumption amount.
After selecting a low-calorie, protein-rich food, look for something with plenty of fiber such as organic pumpkin or brown rice as they contain both insoluble and soluble dietary fiber sources that will support health. Dr. Ushi-Phillips advises pet parents to opt for foods containing several key components without carbs as these could turn into glucose in your pet’s body and eventually fat storage if used as the main ingredient in pet food.
Limit how much food your cat eats by providing several small meals throughout the day from individual, dedicated bowls – rather than leaving food out all the time, like Simpson suggests. Give her an interactive puzzle feeder or food dispensing toy to encourage natural hunting behavior while slowing her eating down, suggests Simpson.
Track and carefully observe your cat’s weight and body condition by weighing her weekly at the same time. Your veterinarian may suggest a diet tailored specifically for her weight or health issue.
Treats can help enhance your cat’s diet while strengthening the bond you share with them, but using treats instead of regular food deprives your pet of essential nutrients they require for good health. Many treats contain fats and carbohydrates which could cause weight gain leading to health complications.
Cats need a balanced diet containing both proteins and carbohydrates in order to remain healthy. Wet and dry cat food specially tailored for felines should form the bulk of their meal; treats should only be fed occasionally.
Quality treats should contain high amounts of protein and not be excessively fatty or sweetened; too many treats of either kind could lead to your cat becoming obese, leading to diabetes and joint issues as well as dental issues which could become costly for both you and your pet.
Liquid treats are an excellent way to give your cat some extra hydration during meals. Not only can they soften dry kibble, but they can help older or picky cats enjoy their food more and keep them interested. Best served as toppers or mixers.