Feeding your Cat or Kitten

The cats are extremely well-adapted predators and that they not only eat meat but become hooked into a meat diet and truly cannot thrive or survive without meat in their diet.

 The house cat is descended from the North African wildcat and remains extremely closely related and almost like this species in size, shape, behavior, and physiology. Like all cats, the house cat may be a carnivore and is tailored to a hunting lifestyle

This is an easy and understandable adaptation for a hunting animal just like the cat – there’s no need for them to possess special enzymes or metabolic pathways to digest and convert nutrients in plants to what they have, when it’s present already within the animals they prey on!

However, this adaptation to become strict carnivores means cats have a variety of special dietary requirements that don’t apply to several other animals, and it means feeding a proper diet to a cat is often far more challenging.

Frequency of feeding

Cats are naturally specialized solitary hunters, a bit like their wild ancestors. Since they hunt alone, their prey is usually small in size as this is often all they will manage to capture on their own. The foremost common prey types are small mammals. Since the typical mouse only contains about 30 kilocalories, cats must hunt, kill and eat around ten mice each day to satisfy their daily energy and nutrient requirements. Therefore, under natural circumstances, cats consume frequent small meals throughout both the day and night. Feral cats can spend 12 out of each 24 hours trying to find and obtaining food.

Being reliant on food fed by owners means most cats not follow their natural meal pattern of eating several small meals throughout the day and night, but are instead restricted to a feeding schedule that’s convenient for the owner: often this suggests being fed two larger meals during the day – something that’s both behaviorally and physiologically unnatural for cats.

Even if cats are given ad lib access to food (meaning food is unrestricted and available at the least times), which might allow them to eat little, and sometimes, their modern lifestyle may lead them to overeat for several reasons 

Overeating can cause obesity, which is detrimental to the health of cats. Furthermore, most cats are fed their food during a bowl within the same location day in, day out, meaning little or no exertion is required to get food. Gone are the opportunities to look for, capture, and kill their food – all of which involve mental and workout. a scarcity of mental stimulation can cause boredom, apathy, anxiety, frustration, and stress in cats.

To tackle these problems, it’s best to feed cats little and sometimes, dividing a cat’s daily food ration into a minimum of five portions, and feeding this throughout the 24 hours using puzzle feeders and timed feeders. Puzzle feeders are objects which hold food and must be manipulated to release this food. These help meals last longer, increase the workout needed to get food and supply a fun ‘brain-teaser’ for your cat

Feline experts in medicine, behavior, and health here at International Cat Care have put together a feeding plan for cats (the ‘Five-a-Day Felix’ plan) which involves making a couple of simple changes to the way owners feed their cats: namely feeding cats little and sometimes, using puzzle feeders, varying the situation during which a cat is fed, and feeding both during the day and therefore the night. This plan supported scientific evidence, and can help improve the health and welfare of cats by helping cat owners to mimic the conditions cats would usually deal with to urge their food, thus providing both physical and mental stimulation.

Other factors can also affect the feeding pattern of cats, including what they become won’t to, lighting and noise levels, the presence of other cats, etc. Cats like to eat from shallow bowls so that they will see around them at an equivalent time as eating then their whiskers aren’t brushing against the edges of the bowl. Also, it’s better to feed cats from glass or ceramic bowls instead of a plastic bowl as plastic bowls can devour odors (which could also be unpleasant and become tainted).

Stress can have a profound effect on feeding – cats are going to be much less likely to eat when stressed and can be much less willing to undertake any new or different foods. this will be of significance, for example, when a cat is hospitalized during a veterinary clinic – this is often inevitably related to some stress, and offering the cat’s normal food instead of something new or different is probably going to be more successful.

Energy needs in cats and obesity

A cat’s ability to manage its calorie intake is usually interfered with during a number of the way. Modern pet food is typically developed to be highly palatable (very tasty), which can cause excessive food intake. Commercial cat chow is additionally very easy to eat because it is presented in small chunks or bite-sized biscuits, meaning that cats can eat the food very quickly, which can end in overeating. Cats without sufficient enrichment or outdoor access may show increased attention to food through boredom. Competition for food thanks to the presence of other cats may cause overeating. For cats who only got to walk to their bowl for food, it’s more likely that the calories they absorb through eating will outweigh the calories they spend through exercise, leading to weight gain. Additionally, most pet cats are neutered, and while this has many health and welfare benefits for the cat and reduces the number of unwanted cats, it does interfere with their aptitude to manage calorie intake and that they will tend to consume quite as much.

For these reasons, it’s important to undertake to regulate your cat’s food intake then prevent them from becoming overweight. As in humans, all cats are individuals and have different requirements to take care of their normal weight. Follow the instructions on the food packet/sachet/tin as an initial start line, but adjust the daily amount up or down as necessary to stay your cat in peak condition. If employing dry food, weigh the food every day instead of employing a cup – this is often a way more accurate way of creating sure you’re feeding the proper amount. Weighing the food will only add a few minutes to your feeding routine, but could add years to your cat’s life by preventing weight gain. Dry food is extremely energy-dense, therefore the right amount may look small, but provides all the calories a cat must stay fit and healthy.

Important nutrients for cats

Because cats are obligate carnivores, their gastrointestinal system, physiology, and biochemical pathways became adapted to a meat-based diet. Therefore they need some very different dietary requirements compared with dogs and humans – a number of these are outlined below.

Protein

Proteins are large complex molecules consisting of chains of smaller building blocks called amino acids. Cats, like all animals, require protein in their diet as proteins are used for several different biological processes. However, while humans and dogs can adapt to diets that have a comparatively low protein content, cats have a way higher protein requirement in their diet that might typically only be met by feeding a meat-based diet, because they need to come to believe protein as an energy source.

In addition to requiring a way higher level of protein within the diet, cats also require a variety of specific amino acids to be present – these are taurine, arginine, methionine, and cysteine. These amino acids aren’t found in plants – many animals (including dogs and humans) can convert and use other amino acids derived from plants, but cats have lost the power to synthesize these amino acids, as their natural diet (animal flesh) contains them in abundance. Without these amino acids within the diet, cats will simply die.

Fats

Fat within the diet may be a good source of energy, but also supplies fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E), enhances the palatability of food, and maybe a source of a kind of fat called essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs play key roles in maintaining the health of animals, being vital in many metabolic pathways and for the integrity of the skin. Many animals like dogs and humans can convert EFAs found in plants into the EFAs that are needed within the body, but again cats require a source of fat with preformed animal-origin EFAs, as they can’t meet their needs from plant sources.

Carbohydrates

As obligate carnivores, cats even have a reduced ability to digest and utilize carbohydrates, as a carnivorous diet is of course relatively low in carbohydrates. In contrast to several other animals, cats will derive most of their blood glucose (and so their energy) from the breakdown of protein within the diet instead of carbohydrates. However, this doesn’t mean that cats cannot use carbohydrates or that they shouldn’t be present within the diet, but as they need a more limited capacity to digest and utilize carbohydrates, diets have to be formulated carefully.

Apart from kittens, most cats have low levels of the enzyme lactase in their intestine. This is often the enzyme needed to digest the main carbohydrate (lactose) present in milk. For this reason, consumption of ordinary milk, and particularly in high quantities, can often cause diarrhea in cats.

Other nutrients

Again, keep with their adaptation to a strict meat diet, cats require preformed vitamins in their diet that are present in animals but not in plants – these include vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B3. However, while cats require a source of those in their diet, conversely an excessive amount  these vitamins also can cause problems.

Although cats need meat in their diet, it’s also wrong to think that they only need a source of meat. Sometimes kittens are fed a meat-only diet as they get older, using freshly cooked meat like a chicken. Although this meets many of their dietary requirements, some critical components are still missing. It’s important to recollect that within the wild cats would eat an entire animal carcass (meat, organs, and bones) and if fed only the meat this, among other things, is very deficient in minerals like calcium and can not allow the bones to grow properly.

Choosing a cat chow 

Because of their unique and special dietary requirements, it’s extremely difficult to supply a well-balanced diet for cats with home-prepared foods. Feeding an honest quality commercial cat chow (tins, sachets, or dry food) is therefore preferable, a minimum of because the major part of the diet. one of the foremost important things to see when choosing a food to feed your cat is that it’s a ‘complete’ food. This suggests that it’s been developed to satisfy all of your cat’s nutritional needs. Additionally, cats should never be fed pet food.

Offering different foods with different flavors and textures is often good for cats. Good quality dry and tinned/sachet foods are both suitable to be fed to cats. Both sorts of food are considered to possess benefits. For instance, dry food may help improve oral health in cats. Wet food features a much higher water content than dry food, they can help ensure adequate water intake, especially as cats naturally obtain much of their water intake from their food. In some situations, especially some medical conditions, it’s going to be important to maximize a cat’s water intake, and thus feeding wet food is best.

International Cat Care generally recommends feeding healthy cats a spread of both wet and dry food so that cats can enjoy the advantages of both food types then they are not becoming familiar with just one sort of food. Furthermore, feeding a mixed diet may reduce the danger of obesity developing, compared to feeding a dry only diet, consistent with research.

Palatability of foods

The factors that influence the palatability of food for cats are complex but include texture, odor, taste, and temperature.

The smell, or odor, of food, is especially important and cats have a particularly well-developed sense of smell. This is often also enhanced when food is slightly warmed, so cats prefer food that’s around blood heat (around 35°C). The senses of taste and smell combine to offer the perception of the flavor of food, and for cats foods that have a high level of protein and fat, generally, are far more palatable. While cats can taste substances that are salty, sour, or bitter, unlike humans and dogs they’re unable to perceive sweet tastes. Again, this is often an easy adaptation of an animal that’s hooked into the meat instead of plants for its survival. the feel of food is additionally important and generally, cats prefer the feel of meat.

Although we all know what sort of foods cats generally find most palatable, there’s considerable variation between individuals. a number of these is often simply as a result of food experiences early in life – kittens will tend to eat and just like the same foods that they see their mother eating and should develop a robust preference for this. Additionally, some cats will develop a robust preference for a specific sort of food (eg, wet/tinned food or dry food) when fed over a protracted period of your time. Nevertheless, most cats inherently mean that they wish to explore and check out new and different foods and luxuriate in variety.

Feeding kittens

Because kittens are growing at such a quick rate, they need higher nutritional demands than adult cats. It’s usually possible to start out weaning kittens from around 3-4 weeks of age, at which era small amounts of honest quality kitten food are often offered. It’s usually best to start with wet kitten food or to soak some dry kibbles designed for kittens in water to thoroughly moisten them. As kittens grow and develop they will be transitioned to dry food if preferred. Weaning is typically completed by around 8 weeks aged.