Cat Feeding Mistakes: Going Vegetarian Or Vegan
According to some vets, another up-and-coming mistake made when feeding cats is trying to make cats vegetarians or vegans.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat mainly meat and animal organs to thrive. The amino acid taurine, for example, is found only in animal tissue. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experienceheart problems, blindness, and even death.
The nutrients cats need that come from meat, can be provided in the food synthetically, Case says. But you have to be very careful, and aware of the cat’s nutritional idiosyncrasies. Because most of us arent quite sure of our own nutritional needs, it can be next to impossible to guess the needs of our cats.
How Much And How Often Should You Feed Your Cat
Author: Dr. Beth Turner
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Many cat owners, myself included, love a big chunky cat. Maybe its because they seem cuddlier when they are in the mood to cuddle that is. Or perhaps we feel more loved when they are begging for food or purring as we feed them. But in reality, as cute as they may be, excess weight isnt healthy for our cats. Studies show that pets on the leaner side live longer than their heavier counterparts. Also, cats with a healthy body weight will suffer less from issues like arthritis and other illnesses. The best way to show love is by managing your cats weight to help them live a long and healthy life.
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Lets get started on some basics of how you can help your furry friend lose weight and keep it off. One of the first things I suggest is consulting with your cats veterinarian. They can guide you on how much weight your cat needs to lose, how much to feed them, and how to establish an exercise routine for your cat. It is recommended just like it is for people to have your cat get a complete physical exam and possibly blood tests to be sure there are no underlying medical issues before starting a weight loss program.
How Often To Feed A Cat
The number of meals you give your cat every day will depend on a number of factors. Up until the age of six months, kittens will grow rapidly and expend a lot of energy, so you should feed them kitten-specific food four times per day. After this stage, their meals will need to be reduced to prevent unnecessary weight gain and you may decide to feed your cat twice a day.
If youre feeding your cat dry food only, you can also leave their daily serving in their bowl and allow them to nibble on it throughout the day whenever they feel like it. Most cats prefer to graze and leaving some dry food out for the day allows them to satisfy themselves.
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Feeding Your Cat At Different Ages & Stages
A cat’s feeding habits will change as they age. Their nutritional needs will, too. “We know that kittens and reproducing cats, queens specifically, have higher nutrient needs than adult cats at maintenance,” said Cailin Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN, and Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist. Beyond that, Heinze said there is not much research that has been done to tell pet owners what a one-year-old cat needs versus a much older cat in terms of nutrients. “There are a lot of senior cat diets out there, but there are no standards by which those diets have to be designed to meet,” Heinze says.
According to Heinze, it’s possible your older cat might benefit from a senior food, but also possible that they will not. Her best advice is remembering that your cat’s diet is going to depend on your specific animal and making a plan for what nutrients they need at that stage of their life.
Your cat’s weight and health issues will also play a role in determining what and how often they should eat. Asking your veterinarian for guidance, especially if they are on a therapeutic diet, is always an option or you can use a cat food calculator to select a food that is best.
How Much Wet Food To Feed A Cat Every Day
Jenna Stregowski, RVT has worked in veterinary medicine for more than two decades. Her veterinary experience ranges from routine wellness care and preventive medicine to emergency and specialty care, where she has performed duties ranging from specialized nursing to clinical administration. Jenna has been writing about pet care for over 10 years, including for publications like DVM 360 and DogTime.
As veterinarians increasingly recommend wet food diets for cats, owners are faced with many decisions. Much like dry food, it can be difficult to determine what kind of wet food is best for your cat. Once you find the right type of food for your cat, you need to figure out how much wet food to feed your cat.
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Hunting For Food Provides Mental Stimulation
All cats are natural-born hunters. Even if theyve never been outside.
These instincts are ingrained in all cats.
You can simulate the hunting experience indoors by hiding food and treats around your home.
Cat supplies for hunting:
Put food or treats on the supplies. Hide the supplies around your home for hunting!
The con to feeder mice and treat-release toys is that they are made out of plastic.
Plastic traps bacteria. Even with regular washing.
Clean these supplies after you use them. And replace them regularly.
I use glass jar lids and puzzle rugs because its more sanitary.
Tip: Check out healthy cat treat brands for the best options.
Feeding Schedule For Your Kitten
Many people feed their new kitten by simply filling a bowl with dry food and leaving the food available the entire day. However, establishing a feeding schedule for your kitten is a good idea. A feeding schedule for your kitten allows you to control the kittens diet more easily and make sure your kitten does not overeat and gain too much weight.
Your new kitten should eat three times daily. Morning, afternoon, and evening is a good choice. You can arrange the schedule to fit in with your own routine, although it is best to keep a consistent routine from day to day.
Use the feeding guidelines on the food label as a starting point to determine how much to feed your kitten. Split up the daily portion into three equal parts and feed 1/3 at each feeding. The feeding guidelines provide a starting point but youll need to monitor your cats body condition and adjust the feeding amount accordingly. If your cat is gaining too much weight, decrease the amount of food. Conversely, increase the amount of food offered if your cat is too thin or is not gaining weight as expected.
Encouraging your kitten to exercise may not be a problem. However, as your new kitten ages, it may become more difficult to get him to exercise. Some cats do become couch potatoes and these cats are at risk of becoming overweight or even obese. Here are some tips that you can use in feeding your kitten that may aid in keeping your kitten lean.
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Problems With An Older Cat Losing Weight
Certainly, senior cats who are overweight need to diet a bit, but feline obesity is seen more commonly in adult cats. Weight loss is a much bigger problem for most seniors. Therefore, its important to evaluate your senior cats body and muscle condition at home at least monthly, if not twice monthly. This is especially important for long-haired cats whose luxurious coats may hide significant weight loss.
Assuming you have the calorie count correct for your cats normal weight, what are problems that might contribute to an older cat losing weight? Dental problems are high on the list of minor-but-potentially-serious health issues that may lead to a loss of appetite in your cat. Just think about how much a toothache hurts youone will hurt your cat just as much! Broken teeth, cavities and severe gingivitis are all dental problems that can stop a cat from eating the nutrients they need. Be sure to have your cats mouth thoroughly evaluated on their twice-annual checkups. They may need a full veterinary dental workup and cleaning.
Yes, I did say twice annual. Once your cat reaches senior status, it is important to have regular checkups. Just as a kitten can go from healthy to in trouble quickly, so can a senior cat. They also have fewer reserves and often have underlying health problems that contribute to weight loss. Regular blood work can often detect problems early on.
Combination Feeding A Cat
Of course, you could choose to focus on a combination of the two feeding options. This is a great way to feed your cat canned foodtwice per day at set timesand dry food, which is available freely throughout the day. It allows both you and your kitty to have some say in when and how much she eats. Plus it can be beneficial to have your cat eat both wet and dry food. Heinze says that cats develop food preferences at a young age, yet there may be times later in life when they need to switch from one to the other. So introducing both wet and dry food is important for feeding flexibility.
Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to set up a place for your cat to eat in peace and quiet because felines prefer to dine alone. And if you are a multi-cat household, each cat should have their own food and water station. Food puzzles are a great activity to keep meal time fun for your cat as well, as their natural instinct is to work for their food. Wet or dry, any food that is left at the end of the day should be tossed to ensure that your feline is always feasting on fresh food.
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Cat Feeding Mistakes: Creating Nutrient Deficiencies
The interest in homemade food for cats is on the rise, say the pros. It is important to realize however that homemade does not always mean healthy.
A mistake that I often see well-meaning people make is the feeding of unbalanced homemade diets, Pierson says.
Thats because when making cat food from scratch, some people fail to balance the meat with the correct amount of calcium, forgetting that a cat would be eating both the meat and bones of their prey, which provides a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.
A cat diet too heavy in tuna, liver, or liver oil , can lead to vitamin A toxicosis, resulting in bone and joint pain, brittle bones, and dry skin. A diet too rich in raw fish can destroy vitamin B1, causing muscle weakness, seizures, or brain damage. If a feline caregiver wishes to make their pet’s food, they need to follow a properly balanced recipe, Pierson says.
One way to do that is to start by talking to your veterinarian, who can guide you away from food fads and steer you toward a balanced, healthy eating plan for your cat.
Linda P. Case, MS, adjunct assistant professor, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine Author “The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health, Co-author of “Canine and Feline Nutrition.
Joe Bartges, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN, professor of medicine and nutrition, the Acree Endowed Chair of Small Animal Research,College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee.
Is Chocolate Poisonous To Cats
While most human treats should be avoided, chocolate is a complete no-no for cats. Just 2g of chocolate not even as big as a square is enough to do serious damage to your cat due to its levels of theobromine. Theobromine acts as a stimulant, increasing the heart rate and acting as a diuretic to increase the loss of bodily fluids. As cats struggle to metabolise theobromine, the chemical stays in the bloodstream and quickly reaches dangerous levels.
Keep chocolate out of reach of your cat, and if you suspect they have eaten any chocolate, head to the vet straight away.
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Natural Feeding Behavior Of Cats
Cats are solitary hunters and eaters. Among all cat species, only lions hunt and eat together. In a natural setting, cats will hunt and eat 10 or more small meals per day. One way to mimic this natural hunting behavior is to use a foraging feeder or food puzzle where your cat has to interact with the feeder to get small pieces of food You can also hide small amounts of dry food around the house for your cat to seek out and eat, perhaps in shallow plastic containers or egg cartons.
For people, eating is a social event, but because cats are solitary hunters, most would prefer to eat alone. This means when one cat in a home must be fed separately from the others, she is probably happier. Although they prefer to eat alone, healthy cats may not mind the presence of others at feeding time. However, in times of illness or stress, this tolerance may decrease. It is also important to know that the behaviors shown by your cat when you come home is a greeting behavior and is not a request for food. You should reward this behavior with attention such as petting or play, but feed your cat later.
Always Consider Your Cats Age
A cats age has a huge impact on how often you should be feeding them.
- Kittens: Kittens are usually fed more often throughout the day because they require more food per pound of bodyweight than adult cats. This is because they are in a vital growing stage. If they dont get enough nutrients and calories, it can inhibit their growth and cause issues later on. Kittens younger than 6 months old can be fed four or five times a day, while kittens older than 6 months can be fed about three times per day for the best, healthiest growth.
- Adult Cats: Once a kitten becomes a cat, at about 1 year old, you can switch their feeding schedule to once or twice a day. This is pretty consistent with most healthy cats and will ensure a good, routine diet. You should feed your adult cat at the exact same time or times each day. If you are feeding your cat twice a day, it is recommended to feed once in the morning and once at night. This consistency will help your cat maintain a healthy digestive system. With a consistent feeding schedule, it is also easier to notice any discrepancies in feeding or stool. Any discrepancies could mean an underlying medical issue that you will want to get checked out.
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The Pros And Cons Of Supplement
Cats can stop eating for a variety of reasons. Making the decision to supplement with a high-calorie gel is one that the owner needs to make based on the conditions and quality of life of the cat.
If your cat has an illness and is recovering, giving it high-calorie gel makes sense. If your cat has a chronic disease, the decision is not as easy.
I have given several older cats with chronic diseases such as cancer or kidney failure high-calorie gel in order to extend their time and give them more energy. The cats had stopped eating and the energy provided from the gel was the only nutrition they received.
Giving the the gel prolonged their lives for several weeks to several months.
However, deciding not to do it is okay too. You will want to, with your vet’s and family’s help, assess the cat’s quality of life and his or her pain to make sure all aspects are being managed well.
Ultimately, each situation with a cat in need is unique and each owner needs to do what works for their family and their cat.
S To Bathe An Underage Kitten
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Cat Feeding Mistakes: Offering Too Little Water
Clearly water is vital, for cats as well as people. Essential to life, water accounts for 60% to 70% of an adult cats body weight, say ASPCA experts. A serious water deficiency can have critical repercussions for pets, causing serious illness or death.
Although wet foods can go far toward meeting your feline friends water needs, cats should also have several sources of fresh water available through the house, say the pros. Pay attention to where the cat likes to be so that there’s water there, Case suggests. And be aware that some cats prefer running water others can detect the taste of chlorine in tap water so you might want to buy bottled water for them.
Heres a tasty tip to help encourage your cat to drink more, offered inThe Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats:
- Locate a couple leaves of fresh catnip
- Fill a bowl with water and crush the leaves under the water
- Sit back and watch susceptible kitties go wild