Choosing The Right Food For Your Cat

Cats have specific nutritional requirements and need a complete and balanced diet according to their age, level of activity, pregnancy, lactation or certain medical conditions.

Feeding your kitten

During their time of rapid growth, kittens have higher energy and nutrient requirements, up to 3 to 4 times the amount needed by an adult cat of the same weight.

Premium growth diets contain higher levels of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals in the right proportions needed by your kitten. They are available as dry or canned foods and your cat can be fed a mixture of these according to the directions on the label.

Kittens should be fed at least 3 times a day up to the age of 4 to 5 months and it is generally best to let them eat as much as they want at each meal, discarding any uneaten food after 20 minutes ( it is hard to overfeed kittens). Once they reach 5 to 6 months of age meals, can be reduced to twice a day.

Feeding the adult cat

From the age of 8 to 9 months, your kitten can be gradually introduced to food designed for adult cats.

Adult foods contain more moderate amounts of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals for the maintenance of the adult cat. Many premium or high-quality diets are also formulated to reduce the risk of urinary tract problems.

The feeding instructions on the product label are a useful guide but individual cats vary widely in the amount of food that they need, depending on the catu2019s age, size, their level of activity and overall condition.

Adult cats are usually fed twice a day, although they naturally prefer several smaller meals during the day. Most cats on a balanced diet will regulate their food intake and there is no need to restrict the quantity of feed given at any one meal unless your cat tends to overeat, is inactive or overweight. A light formula may then be needed or, if weight loss is indicated, a special weight reducing diet that is available from your vet.

Feeding the breeding queen

Pregnancies in cats last for 9 weeks. A pregnant cat will need extra energy and nutrients to provide for the growth of her unborn kittens and for milk production during lactation.

A growth diet of high quality is suitable to meet the needs of the breeding queen right throughout her pregnancy and while she is feeding her kittens. Pregnant cats will start to increase their food intake after mating and need up to twice their usual amount during the last 2 to 3 weeks of pregnancy.

Feed your cat as much as she needs in frequent small meals and during lactation food should be available during the night. Your catu2019s condition will guide you on whether she is getting sufficient amounts and visit your vet for advice on other needs your cat may have during this time.

Feeding the senior cat

A cat is considered to be senior at around 7 to 8 years of age when their metabolism starts to change and they are also more prone to dental problems, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney failure.

Senior diets are specifically formulated for the senior cat with high-quality nutrients in the correct proportions. They are also highly concentrated and very palatable to ensure your cat gets enough nutrients.

Healthy senior cats can be offered as much as they can eat. If your cat is too thin or losing weight, you need to consult your vet to find out if there are any underlying problems. A less active cat may need to go on a light formula for weight maintenance or an overweight cat will need a specialised weight reducing diet available from your vet.

Contributors: Dr Julia Adams BVSc u00a0
By Provet Resident Vet – Last updated 16 November 2012
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