Everyone is more
conscious these days of ingredient labels because we know that
nutrition is so important to leading a healthy lifestyle.
That’s why you should read the label on your cat's food
carefully. It provides a guaranteed analysis of key nutrients
including minimum fat and protein and the maximum fiber and
moisture. The label should state whether your cat food is
formulated for growing cats, adult cats, aging cats, or for all life
stages. The label also should indicate if the cat food has
undergone actual feeding studies.
Where, When and How
much to Feed
cat’s food bowl and water dish away from foot traffic and
noise, but in a place that is comfortable and easy for him to
reach. Once you have chosen a suitable place, don’t
change the location unless absolutely necessary. Newspapers
or a plastic mat under the dish makes cleanup easier. Above
all, always keep clean, fresh water available at all times. This is
critical to your cat's health.
Establish a routine so
that your cat is fed at the same time each day. Use your
cat’s name when feeding him. This can help to
reinforce his name while associating you with a pleasant
activity. If you are feeding a dry cat food, you can put out
a whole days’ supply in the morning (very convenient if you
are a working person) or feed half in the morning and half at
night. Another advantage of to this type of cat food is that
it can help keep your cat’s teeth clean and gums healthy.
For a proper feeding
program, you can follow the feeding instructions on the cat food
package or use the following:
to 1 oz (1/4 – 1/3 cup)
3 to 4 times per day
7 weeks –
1 to 3 oz. (1/3 to
3 to 4 times per day
– 1 year
3 oz. (about 1 cup)
2 times per day or
dry in dish full time
- Never feed your cat
with another pet's food. Cats have unique nutritional needs
that only cat food can provide.
- Never feed bones from
chicken, pork or fish to your cat. These can splinter and
lodge in his throat or pierce the stomach walls and intestinal
- Don’t feed
your cat milk. He doesn’t need it and it may cause
- Never feed your cat
any food containing chocolate or onions. These can be toxic
to your cat and should be stored and disposed of in a place your cat
can’t reach. Ask your veterinarian about additional
foods that might be harmful to your cat.
- Avoid the temptation
to spoil your cat with table scraps. This too can produce a
finicky eater who learns to refuse his usual cat food in favor of those
To keep your cat as
lively and healthy as possible, it is important to control his weight,
especially in later years. By conservative
estimates, approximately 25% of cats are overweight or obese.
A cat may be considered obese if her body weight is 20 -25% greater
There are several ways to
tell if you have a fat cat.
- Hanging Stomach
– Cats tend to show extra weight in their stomachs first.
- Rib Check –
Place your hands on your cat’s rib cage. If you
cannot feel the ribs, your cat is overweight
- Double Chin
– Deposits of fatty layers under the skin around the jowls
and neck make your cat’s face appear puffy.
Remember that extra
weight puts a strain on organs like the heart, liver, bones and joints,
and may cause or aggravate your cat's health problems.
The best way to control
obesity is through prevention. Calorie requirements based on
your cat’s individual needs can be determined with your
veterinarian’s help. The following feeding
suggestions are guidelines and are not intended to replace the advice
of your veterinarian.
- Make any dietary
changes gradually. Sudden or dramatic changes can cause
problems. Your cat needs some time to become accustomed to a
new cat food.
- Avoid foods high in
calories, like table food and snacks.
- Enlist family members
and guests in refraining from secretly giving your cat extra food.
- Reduce calories by
feeding a cat food formulated for older cats.
- Look for a cat food
that features unique kibbles that are easy to chew and
A regular exercise
program should go hand in hand with diet to help an obese cat lose
weight. Besides its health benefits, exercising your cat is a
great way for you to play together and have some fun. Here
are some suggested activities to help her lose weight and contribute to
your cat’s health and happiness.
- Wake your cat in the
morning. Unless she’s hungry, your cat may sleep
in. Don’t let her. Wave a cat toy in
front of her face to wake your cat up and get her going.
- Put some distance
between your cat and his food. If you leave your cat's food
out, put it in a room apart from where your cat sleeps. The
walk provides some exercise and you can put toys along the way to
encourage additional activity.
- Get your cat to
run. Even if it’s only back to his chair, encourage
quick movements with a clap, car keys or rattling paper.
- Pamper your cat into a
playful mood. When she just isn’t in the mood to
play, boost her spirits with a brushing.
- Reintroduce favorite
games you once played with your cat.
- Leave safe toys out to
encourage your cat to play on his own. This is important if
you are away from home much of the day.
Variety may be the spice
of life to humans but it is stressful to feline digestive systems and
can lead to finicky eating and stomach upsets. To avoid these problems,
try using one cat food exclusively. But if you do want to
switch cat foods, do so gradually over a period of about 7-10 days to
avoid digestive upset. Begin the changeover by giving him a
small portion of the new cat food with his present food.
Gradually increase the new cat food and decrease the amount of the food
being replaced. This is especially important when changing
from moist cat food to a dry cat food.
Your kitten's first year
is critical to a lifetime of good health. During that time he
grows from infancy through the equivalent of childhood and then to a
young adult. Your kitten needs to have the best possible
nutrition to build a strong bone structure, good muscles, a
well-developed nervous system and the vitality that will take him
through his first year.
Research has shown that a
normal kitten's weight practically triples during the first three
weeks. Kittens need their own special diet. His
rapid growth and high energy level requires kitten food which will give
him extra nutrition and calories. Kittens have smaller
stomachs and therefore tend to be occasional eaters, eating a number of
small meals throughout the day. Dry kitten food is a good
choice for kittens because it will remain fresh and flavorful in your
kitten's bowl throughout the day.
Give your kitten three
meals a day until he is six months old. At six months your
kitten may resemble an adult cat, but don't be fooled he still has a
lot of growing up to do and should continue eating a diet made
specially for kittens.
Don't be worried if your
kitten's appetite decreases slightly between four to seven months of
age. As he loses his baby teeth, he may eat a little less
because his gums are sore. By the time he is seven months
old, most of your kitten's permanent teeth should have grown
Once your kitten has
reached his first birthday, he is officially an adult cat.
The high calorie requirements he had as a kitten have gradually
declined and he can now switch to an adult cat food.
Your pregnant or
lactating cat should switch from her regular food to a diet specially
formulated for her needs. During the final two or three of
gestation, she may eat up to double the amount she usually
eats. Remember that she has to produce enough milk to feed
all her kittens. Consult your veterinarian to make sure she
is getting everything she needs for her “delicate
Cats with Special Food
If your adult cat is
prone to urinary tract problems or other medical aliments, a special
cat food may alleviate the recurring problem. Once your cat
had been successfully treated, ask your veterinarian whether your cat
could benefit from a diet that is formulated for your cat’s
specific problem. Always consult your veterinarian before
switching to a special diet.