& copy; Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Karen Commings
The amount of food and the frequency of feeding the cat depend on its age, health and preferences.
In any pet store now you can find a lot of feed intended for cats. If you overfeed or underfeed a cat, or choose a food that is not suitable for her, this will necessarily affect her health. If you allow the cat to eat when she wants, obesity is possible. Therefore, it is desirable to establish and adhere to a specific feeding regime. Although it is clear that the cat's food should be sufficient and balanced, the simple question How often do you need to feed the cats? There is no simple answer.
The effect of cat age on diet.
Kittens need more food (per unit weight) for growth than adult cats, so they need to be fed more often. "Growing kittens under the age of six months should receive food three times a day," says Francis Kallfelz, DVM, PHD, professor of nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. "From six months to full maturity, most cats can eat two meals a day."
For most adult cats (older than one year), in most cases, feeding with a frequency of one or two times a day is suitable. Elderly cats, from seven years old and above, must adhere to the same diet. "As soon as cats become adults, feeding once a day is sufficient. Such a regime should be maintained until the cat is healthy and has no diseases that require changing the diet," says Dr. Kallfelz.
The effect of cat health on diet.
If the cat has health problems such as diabetes, it may be necessary to adjust the diet with insulin delivery time, depending on the type of diabetes. "Consult a veterinarian," recommends Dr. Kallfelz.
With hyperthyroidism, the cat may feel hunger all the time. "Be sure to cure the disease," says Dr. Kallfelz. "After recovery, the cat's nutrition will return to normal."
When a cat is aging, her teeth may deteriorate or gum diseases may develop that make it hard to chew solid food (dry food). In this case, you need to go to wet food or dry with smaller granules. You can also add water to dry food to make it easier for the cat to chew.
What type of cat food is best to choose?
Many owners opt for dry food. "Dry food is an excellent solution if it is of high quality and balanced," says Dr. Kallfelz. Dry food is usually cheaper than canned cat food, and it can stay fresh longer. Cats that eat only dry food should be provided with constant access to fresh water, especially if they are prone to developing urolithiasis. Anyway, for all cats, constant accessibility to clean, fresh water is very important.
Canned (or wet) foods usually contain from 70 to 80 percent water. They can be used both as an additive to dry food, and instead of them. Some cats may find canned food more attractive. If cats are not limited, they can eat too much. However, it can happen when eating dry food. "A poet should choose cat food with average taste characteristics," believes Dr. Kallfelz. If the cat loves food, it can lead to overweight and even obesity. If the feed has a "normal" taste, the probability of gaining excess weight will be less.
Too large portions - a noticeable problem for cat owners. The instructions of the feed manufacturers are based on the needs of medium-sized cats, so it is easy to overfeed the cat if its needs are below average. If you feed the cat dry food, the portion can be measured by a special measure. Dry food can also be supplemented with a small amount of canned food to make it more attractive to the cat.
“There is no problem mixing the two types of feed,” says Dr. Kallfelz. "Just make sure that the cat's diet contains the right, but not an excessive amount of calories."
Free food with dry food is acceptable for cats that do not eat more than they need. But many cats like to have a snack once again, for them constantly available food can cause extra pounds. "If the cat maintains optimum weight, free food is perfectly acceptable," says Dr. Kallfelz. At the same time even dry food should be fresh, so do not forget to change it in a timely manner. If the free food method does not work, you have to control the amount of food. "If the needed portion is broken into several small ones, the cat may feel less hungry," says Dr. Kallfelz. "But nutritionally this will be enough."
And one more useful note: If your cat is fastidious in food, switching between feeds sometimes helps prevent getting used to one single feed.
Check the feeding of the cat with your daily routine.
The frequency of feeding the cat may also depend on your schedule. Morning can be restless if you are going to school and rush to work. In this case, it is easier to feed the cat in the evening, in a more relaxed atmosphere. If you work a lot in the evenings, it is better to feed the cat in the morning. Usually, people and cats somehow agree on their schedules to the enjoyment of all, it is only important, if possible, to follow it.
If there are several cats in the house, not all cats can respond to the call for food. For "latecomers" this may cause some problems. "You just need to take this into account," says Dr. Kallfelz. You can, for example, feed them individually or in different parts of the house.
This is a fundamental criterion, because young individuals need to be fed more often than adults. Kittens 5-6 months, in a period of rapid growth and development, need to be fed three times a day. Upon reaching the kitten of six months and until full maturity, it is necessary to feed the pet twice a day. Since the age of seven, cats tend to eat 1 time per day, due to the slowing down of metabolic processes, reducing the vital activity of the pet and appetite.
The feeding regimen of a sick cat must be agreed with the veterinarian without fail. In most cases, unhealthy individuals are transferred to a special diet, which is appointed individually. Often, sick animals have to feed forcibly. First of all, it is necessary to cure the disease and, as you recover, the appetite of the animal will be restored.
Nursing females spend 3 times more energy on the breeding of offspring. It is natural that the amount of daily ration should increase. In this important period of lactation, it is necessary to feed the cat more and more often as soon as she asks for it. And for castrated males, on the contrary, the adjustment of caloric intake is extremely important, as an obesity prevention.
The metabolism of the body of a castrated animal slows down, and its daily ration should be made taking into account these changes.
Feeding a cat also depends on its breed. Different breeds have completely different temperament and metabolic rate. It is important to focus on the size of the cat, since large breeds need more food.
Kitten feeding mode
Young offspring feed more often than adult cats. Food should be served in small portions and be at room temperature., or a little warmer. Gradually, the stomach of a small predator will increase, and the grown-up kitten will no longer eat up in small portions. It is necessary to systematically reduce the number of feedings, increasing the daily rate of food consumption. The amount of daily ration should be calculated relative to the weight of the cat. Indicative indicators are as follows: 200g of food per 1 kg of cat weight.
Rules for feeding a kitten:
- The pet must have round-the-clock access to clean drinking water, which must be changed frequently so that it does not stagnate.
- Food should be cut into small pieces. Cooking minced meat is welcome, as the kittens, due to inexperience, do not chew meat pieces very carefully, as a result of which the food is poorly absorbed.
- It is not recommended to spread all the daily feed in the bowl. A small pet does not know how to properly distribute its appetite and can simply overeat.
- From 4 months of age, the diet of a fluffy baby should consist of 75% meat. The most important rule - do not feed raw meat, in order to avoid infection by parasites. You can freeze meat products for several days, boil or scald the crushed pieces before feeding the kitten.
- It is advisable to add vitamin-mineral complex for kittens to food.
- Introducing new products in the menu of a little cat should be very smooth, alternating with the usual food.
- It is important to decide in advance on the type of feeding the kitten: homemade food or ready-made food, and strictly adhere to the chosen type. A systematic change in the types of feeding can bring the kitten’s health to a deplorable state.
Diet and feeding features of an adult cat
It is necessary to feed a cat 2 times a day: in the morning and in the evening. Because of the cats' natural need for amino acids, the meat diet is best suited for them, rather than a vegetable diet and cereal nutrition.
For an adult individual, the daily volume of a portion is calculated taking into account the energy value: 70 kcal per 1 kg of cat weight. The definition of the daily measure of food consumption is calculated relative to the size of the cat: 50g per 1 kg of animal weight.
If you are the owner of a pedigree cat - manufacturer, then his diet should assume a large amount of vitamin E, which improves reproductive function. A good industrial feed is able to solve a similar problem, you just need to choose the right one. Feed the cat dry food can be 2 times a day, clearly adhering to the recommended dosage and not increasing it. If your furry animal "sits" on homemade food, then for his stomach there are a number of restrictions.
Kota can not be fed the following products:
- Too fat meat. Pork is absolutely not suitable for feeding cats, causes pancreatitis and renal failure.
- Various smoked meats and pickles.
- Spicy, sweet and fried foods.
- Liver is not recommended. In the raw state, it provokes flatulence, boiled - is the cause of constipation.
- Coffee and tea stress the nervous and cardiac systems of the cat.
- Consumption of fish is not desirable, but is allowed as an exception once a week, in boiled form. Fish contributes to the development of urolithiasis.
- Potatoes are a completely useless product for a domestic predator, and besides, starch is not absorbed by the cat's stomach.
- Legumes cause bloating and intestinal problems.
- Vegetables are not very suitable food for cats. Virtually all of them are harmful or useless to the feline body. You can feed your pet only with carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cucumbers and celery. It is best to feed the cat chopped in a blender with vegetables mixed into the meat dish.
Every responsible breeder needs to exercise regular control of the weight of the pet, regularly weigh it and compare the results with the generally accepted canons.
In addition, it is important to monitor the amount of water consumed by the cat. Regular increased thirst is a call for a review of the diet, or a referral to a veterinarian.
You can measure the amount of water drunk by your pet per day and compare it with well-known norms. The reason for concern, in this case, is 2 times excess of the rate of water consumed.
Cat Lunch Schedule
Strict feeding on a “morning-evening” schedule disciplines the animal, as a result of which, there is less difficulty with the behavior and health of the pet as a whole. Eating on a schedule, the pet is less susceptible to digestive problems, unlike a cat with free access to a full bowl. This mode will be very convenient for those cat owners who are at work all day and cannot control the amount of cat feeding during the day.
In addition, such a regime is the cause of a more respectful attitude of the pet to the owner, since the cat understands that the source of its food is man. The animal ceases to consider itself to be an absolutely independent creature and it has to respect the master's orders.
Basic rules for feeding an adult cat
- An adult animal should receive a daily rate of feed in two doses - in the morning and in the evening.
- The daily rate of food is calculated on the basis of the energy value - 60–70 kcal per 1 kg of the normal weight of the animal.
- The weight of the daily norm is calculated from the dimensions of the animal - 30–60 g per 1 kg of weight.
- Regularly weigh your pet and compare rates with the normal table.
- In the free access of the cat should always be a bowl of water. Keep track of how much the animal consumes water, chronic thirst is a signal to change the feed or visit the vet.
- Choose a small feeder and a large bowl for drinking. Pay attention to the pomp of the cat's whiskers, with their help the cat instinctively knows the width of the hole through which it can sneak. Do not try to understand logically, just accept the instincts, the animal is more comfortable when the mustache does not cling to the sides of the bowls.
- If there are several animals in the house, the feeding places should be at different levels - the floor and stand, the podium and the window sill - this will help avoid tension during eating and greedy "swallowing" food from a sense of competition.
- After “serving” food, wait 15–20 minutes and remove the bowl, whether the animal has eaten or not. Watch the cat's behavior, “lazy eating up” is overeating, not quenching hunger.
- Do not forget that the lack of appetite in the summer and "gluttony" in the fall is absolutely normal, the cat should "recover" a little by winter.
- Uncontrolled appetite, often associated with the breed characteristics or the presence of parasites, do not forget to carry out "anthrax".