We love our cats, and one of the most common ways we show them this is with food. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for us to over-do things, and whilst (hopefully!) we don’t normally literally kill kitty with kindness, we do need to be mindful of our actions. It isn’t hard to provide the purr-fect diet and lifestyle for your fur-baby though, as this blog will show.
The dietary needs of your puss will change according to their current life stage and their health status, and nowadays there is a vast range of foodstuffs around to cater for this: Kitten, Adult, Indoor, Sensitive, Senior and Low Calorie.
Kittens are generally fully weaned at 6-8 weeks old – about the time they would be going to their new homes, although they will have typically been introduced to mushed up kitten food from 3-4 weeks of age.
Pregnant cats (queens) and lactating/nursing mummy cats will require a change to their diet. Believe it or not, these ladies will need the same high protein levels in their diet that weaned kittens do in order to satisfy the increased nutritional needs their body has. Whilst your cat is pregnant you may notice that she only eats marginally more than usual but, when she is producing milk for her babies, your kitty may eat two or three times more than she would do normally!
Whatever the age of your cat, if you need advice regarding any aspect of feeding, just get in touch with us here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre. As well as general tips, the team is well placed to prescribe a special diet for moggies that have joint health problems or kidney disease.
– the typical creature of habit, if you like – so establishing a regular routine (especially once they’ve hit adulthood) will suit your moggy mighty fine, as well as fitting into your lifestyle. Winner, winner Chicken (Beef, Fish or Lamb) dinner!
The subject of meat brings me to a very important point actually: cats are what we call “Obligate Carnivores”, which means they must eat meat in order for their bodies to function properly. Amino Acids such as Taurine, for example, are only found in meat and are essential in a Feline diet, so plant-based diets are no-go for cats. Here at SLVC, we stock the Virbac food range which has a high quantity of good quality animal protein in it which makes it purr-fect (pun intended!) for puss 🙂
Feeding your cat in the same spot and at the same time each day suits their nature, but there are a few things to remember to make it relaxing and pleasurable for them. Any food and water should be given to them well away from their litter tray or toileting area; cats eat, sleep and toilet in separate places in the wild, and your domesticated god or goddess has retained this instinct. Plus, they have keen senses of smell, so having the pong of bodily waste will kill their appetite – it’d kill mine too, to be honest!
If you have more than one cat, it’s good practice to keep their feed bowls with plenty of space between them. Cats don’t tend to stay in groups anyway, but certainly not when they’re feeding, so to avoid any potential conflict it’s best to keep some distance at dinner.
and if you can feed them in this way, then go you! Most of us struggle to do this though, so two meals (one morning, one evening) are adequate for most moggies.
Dry food is much better for their teeth, so where possible please feed your puss this type of food – I shall thank you in advance 🙂 It’s a case of trial-and-error to see what suits your puss, but when you do find the sweet spot of success don’t be tempted to over-do it; most feeds have measures with them and guidelines on quantities to feed kitty. Remember, too, that treats have lots of calories in them that can soon sneak up on kitty’s figure, so please limit these to an occasional indulgence.
Obesity is something we all too often see at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre, and often precedes Diabetes, Heart Disease, Urinary problems, Arthiritis and mobility issues. Cats are like us humans in that they will pile on the pounds if they eat too much and move too little. You can keep an eye on kitty’s figure though and nip weight gain in the bud by checking them over every couple of weeks; if you’ve got a kitten, start this habit straightaway.
You know your cats’ physique best, so get in the habit of checking them over: from the side-and above- view their waist should be smooth and tucked in; likewise, their belly should curve in and not bulge out. When you feel their sides and along their back, you’re checking that the ribcage, spine and hips are readily palpable without unduly sticking out. You also want to be able to easily feel the base of their tail – a ‘fat pad’ in the area where their tail meets their back is indicative of an overweight puss.
If you’re not confident that you’re checking right, just ring up and make an appointment (or go online and use our new system!) and one of the SLVC team (Vet or Vet Nurse) will happily show you how to do it.
Another time to make an appointment is if your cat that usually eats well suddenly goes off their food (or conversely develops a massive appetite), will only eat on one side of their mouth, starts drinking much more than usual, is losing weight for no apparent reason, vomits or has diarrhoea, or hasn’t eaten for 48 hours. Unlike dogs, who can endure prolonged periods without feeding, cats need to feed regularly; cats that stop eating, even just for a couple of days, may develop a Liver condition that (in severe cases) can be fatal. We would much rather check your precious puss over and them be ok, than have you think “oh, I’ll leave it a while longer”; it is, as I always say, why we’re here.
Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂