What to feed Cats & Kittens
“What to feed Cats” – The true Carnivore.
Cats are meat eaters! Their physiology is designed for the consumption of protein and the nutrients that can only be obtained from meat. In the wild these nutrients are obtained through the process of hunting killing and consuming prey animals. When it comes to the domestic cat however the hunting and killing part of the equation has been interrupted and owners provide food in the form of meat or commercially produced cat foods.
Getting the balance of nutrients right is important and luckily there are a number of excellent brands out there who produce high quality complete cat foods. Complete meaning they contain everything your cat needs for a healthy diet and with varieties which cater for different age groups and breeds of cats. It is important to match your choice of product to the requirements of your cat according to its age and breed. If in any doubt on this point, staff at the pet store where you pick up your food will point you in the right direction as will your vet. Early on I was advised that wet/canned foods were a better choice than dry food I went with the wet food option and can say that it worked out well. Again make your own informed choice.
Cats can be picky so it may take a couple of attempts to find a food which suits their taste. It is generally recommended that their diet be kept consistant, to avoid upsetting their digestion. There is a debate over whether free feeding (making food available on demand e.g from automatic feeding machine) or whether scheduled feeding is best. Lifestyle can be a big factor here and I think individual owners should research the area and make the choice that they believe is best.
Personally I believe that sticking with the portion weight indicated on your food packaging and or by your vet is probably the best way to control diet. Over feeding leading to obesity puts your cat at risk of a number of medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease etc I also believe that monitoring your cats weight regularly will alert you to identify possible issues, such as overfeeding underfeeding or health issues. A good tip is also when changing from one food to another to do it progressively introducing the new as a percentage of the old, over a week or two until the transition is accepted. This causes less digestion problems for the animal concerned.
Where there are special requirements in relation to diet as might be indicated by the health or age of your cat then the advice of your vet should always be sought out and followed.
When it comes to water the rules are simple keep it readily available and make sure it is fresh and clean.
To treat or not to treat, that is the question!
Nowadays a high percentage of domestic cats are in the overweight/obese category. A sedentary lifestyle and overfeeding are the main issues. Treats are an issue and introduce nutrition which really isn’t needed. I sometimes think that owners treat to make themselves feel good as much as make their pets feel good. As an occasional thing they may be fine but should be used in moderation or as a training tool. Again it’s down to the individual owner to make the call as they know intimately the overall situation with their own pet, but again monitor those calories. Personally I would ditch the treats.
When should a kitten start to eat solid food?
Introduce solid food to kittens after about three weeks. By eight weeks they are normally fully weaned and on solids only. There are kitten food formulas out there which are excellent transition to solid foods. Small regular meals are the best way to start your kittens solid food journey (refer to the directions given on the packet) then after about six months reduce the frequency and increase the quantity to adult portions again as per the directions on your chosen brand.
The golden rule in my mind is, never be shy about seeking advice. If in doubt about any diet or health related issues speak to your vet who in my experience will be happy to steer you in the right direction. And remember to follow through on any advice given.