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.
âA mistake that I often see well-meaning people make is the feeding of unbalanced homemade diets,â Pierson says.
Thatâs because when making cat food from scratch, some people fail to balance the meat with the correct amount of calcium, forgetting âthat a cat would be eating both the meat and bones of their prey, which provides a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.â
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. âIf a feline caregiver wishes to make their pet’s food, they need to follow a properly balanced recipe,â 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,â Co-author of “Canine and Feline Nutrition.â
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.
How Much Should I Feed My Cat The Basics
The answer to How much should I feed my cat is based on many variables, including a cats weight and a cats age, whether youre feeding wet cat food or dry cat food, the cats activity level, and whether or not she is pregnant or nursing.
The brand of food youre feeding also makes a difference when were answering the question How much should I feed my cat. A dense, high quality dry cat food will contain more nutrients by weight than a low-quality food, and thus require smaller portions to deliver the same amount of nutrition for your cat.
Many cat owners allow their cats free access to dry food, supplemented by canned food once or twice a day. A dry-food-only diet is not necessarily a bad pet diet if youre feeding high quality food, but it does require that you encourage your cat to drink a lot more water to compensate for what shes not getting in canned food.
Activity Level And Metabolic Rate
Since were calculating how much energy your cat needs to get with food, its just as important to consider how much energy it spends during the day. So, the calories have to be adjusted in accordance with your pets lifestyle. Thats one of the reasons why kittens require on average twice as many calories per their body weight as grown-up cats. As a rule, they are extremely active, running around, exploring the world, and wrestling with one another.
Now, theres no need to overfeed your cat if it prefers to stay inside and just lie in different places. However, if your adult feline spends a lot of time outside or is simply more active and playful, you may need to increase the cat food amounts by 1.5 or even 2 times, depending on its metabolic rate. The same goes for breeding tomcats, who obviously require more energy.
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Can I Feed Both Dry And Wet Food To My Cat
The most important thing to consider about your cats diet is its calorie intake. The best option for a cats food is the wet one, but if your cat is more towards dry food, you may opt for it too. Dry food is cheaper in cost but rich in carbs. Therefore, the best way is to give both wet and dry food but make sure the energy count is perfect.
The best way to do this is to check the recommended amount of each type of food and half them. Then, after considering this, determine the calorie count to have a complete and balanced diet.
Is My Cat Obese
Making sure your cat eats healthily and exercises regularly is important to keep them in good health. While you can help a cat lose weight, prevention is better than cure. If youre concerned about your cat, take a look at our guide on obesity, where youll find a chart to determine if your cat is overweight.
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How Do I Introduce My Cat To A New Food
There are lots of reasons to introduce your cat to a new food. One of the most common is to . When changing your cats diet, its important to introduce the new food slowly. Start by offering your cat a ratio of 25% new food to 75% current food at mealtime. Over the next three days, transition to the new food by gradually increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the amount of current food.
How Many Meals Should My Cat Eat Each Day
The number of meals a cat eats per day depends completely on the family schedule. Cats should eat at least two meals each day, about 12 hours apart. But a breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner, and right before bed schedule is an equally great option. If more than 12 hours elapses between meals, the stomach can become hyperacidic causing nausea.
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Dry Cat Food Drawbacks
Studies have shown a correlation between obesity and feeding dry cat food. This could be because a lot of cats that eat dry food are often free-fed, and owners do not realize how much their cats are actually eating in a day.
It can also cause the opposite problem because its hard to notice that your cat is not eating when they are free-fed. The amount your cat eats in a day should be monitored or measured out for both reasons.
Older cats with dental disease or those who have had some of their teeth removed may also have a harder time chewing dry food.
How Much Dry Cat Food Should You Give A Dog Per Day
Most dogs will benefit from a daily ration of dry food. According to How To Feed Your Dog, a dry food ration of 3-4 pounds of dry food per 100 pounds of dogs weight per day can be used for small and large dogs. Some dog foods will require that you add a little extra liquid to help break down the food, like gravy, but this shouldnt be necessary. Cats dont need this much food to maintain good health. A recommended ration is 2-3 cups of food per 100 pounds of cats weight per day. The reason you may want to feed dry food to your cat is that cats are known for not liking wet food. There is also a food sold specifically for cats that is good for pets with sensitive stomachs. This food is typically made up of meaty and fishy proteins.
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Cat Feeding Mistakes: Feeding Only Dry Food
âThe biggest mistake people make is feeding cats dry food,â says Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, a California veterinarian focused on feline medicine and nutrition, and creator of CatInfo.org.
As it turns out, todayâs domestic tabby evolved from desert-dwelling ancestors, a heritage that no doubt left our furry felines with their grace, hunting prowess — and low thirst drive.
âWe know that a catâs sensitivity to thirst is blunted compared to a dog,â Case says. âThey don’t voluntarily drink water like a dog would.â And because cats naturally produce highly concentrated urine âwe’re setting them up for urinary tract problems when their diet is low in liquids.â
âWhen cats present with urinary tract problems, the recommendation is to get them on a water-rich diet,â Pierson says. âHowever, why are we closing the barn door after the horse is a mile down the road? Why not practice preventive nutrition by feeding them canned food before they end up with urinary tract problems?â
Cats are designed to get their water with their food, Pierson says. Although mice, a cat’s normal food, are about 70% water, and canned food about 78%, dry food is between 5%-10% water. That’s why âcanned food does a much better job of keeping your cat well-hydrated,â Pierson tells WebMD. âThink of canned food as hosing down your cat’s bladder several times a day.â
How Often A Dry Food To Feed A Cat
The number of meals you give your cat consistently will rely upon various components. Up until the age of a half year, little cats will develop quickly and exhaust a ton of energy, so you should feed them kitten-specific food four times each day. After this stage, their meals should be decreased to prevent unnecessary weight gain and you may choose to feed your cat two times every day.
In case youre feeding your cat only dry food, you can likewise leave their everyday serving in their bowl and permit them to snack on it for the duration of the day at whatever point they feel like it. Most cats like to graze and leaving some dry nourishment out for the day permits them to fulfill themselves.
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How To Control Your Cats Weight On A Dry Food Diet
Splitting the dry food into multiple small controlled volumes over the course of the day is most useful. That way, the cat is never full and never quite starving. With most cats, dropping below 1/3 to ½ cup of dry food per 24 hour day will make them too hungry even if adequate calories are being taken in. The actual amount needed by any given kitty is going to be unique to that cat and will likely change as the cat ages.
Using canned green beans can add bulk to the diet to make cats feel more full. This should not be done with cats that have a history of urinary tract crystals since the veggies raise the urinary pH, which predisposes to crystal formation.
Your Cats Dietary Needs Evolve Over Time
As your cat moves through kittenhood, early adulthood, and beyond, his nutritional needs will change. Meeting those requirements at every phase of life sets the stage for good health.
Your first stop when choosing the right food for your cat? The nutritional adequacy statement.
Usually located on the back of the bag or can, this statement indicates whether or not the food is nutritionally complete and balanced for its intended life stage. The label will read, for example, formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO cat food nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Foods that arent nutritionally complete and balanced will usually be labeled for supplemental feeding only. These foods dont contain the appropriate balance of macronutrients and micronutrients and shouldnt be your cats sole source of nutrition.
While youre looking at the label, check out the feeding instructions as well. For the average house cat, the appropriate feeding instructions are usually already placed on the packaging of the cat food.
The nutritional guidelines on the package will point you in the right direction, though you may need to make some modifications to fit your cats exact needs.
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When To Call The Vet
Watch out for changes in your cat’s eating and drinking behaviour, as this could indicate that something is wrong. See your vet if your cat:
- normally eats well but suddenly stops
- has not eaten for 48 hours
- develops a ravenous appetite
- will only eat with one side of their mouth
- makes a grinding noise when they eat
- starts drinking noticeably more than usual
- loses weight for no apparent reason
- is vomiting or has diarrhoea
Regular eating and drinking is essential to your cat’s health. If your cat doesn’t eat, even for a few days, they can develop a condition of the liver which can be fatal in severe cases.
How Much Should I Feed My Cat Cat Feeding Guide For Wet And Dry Cat Food
How much should I feed my cat must be one of the most commonly asked questions I hear at the vet clinic. While the answer will be as individual as your cat, with a few simple steps, you can find out how much canned or dry food your cat should be eating each day.
There are several things to consider when working out the amount to feed:
- How many calories are in the food I feed my cat?
- What is my cats weight?
- How many Calories does a cat need?
- Is my cat in perfect body condition?
- How active is my cat?
- Has my cat got any special needs?
OK, so that might sound a little complicated but trust me here, it is not so tricky!
Spending a little time working out the correct amount of cat food to feed will greatly benefit your cat.
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How Much Dry Cat Food Per Day
It is suggested that cat owners read the dry diet labels being given to their pets. Pay close attention to numbers in terms of nutrition content. Some cat diet contains a good amount of calorie that goes as high as 500 calories/cup. An average-sized lean cat with close to 10 pounds would need 250 calories/day, which means ½ a cup of food.
One should also note that smaller cats or cats with lower energy levels need a less dry diet. Moreover, overeating should be avoided by cats that mostly stay at home. Finally, if you are a pet parent of more than one cat, you should have a separate feeder for each.
Typically, cats that prefer a dry diet tend to have less plaque or dental tartar. However, cats that consume dry food might skip drinking water and tend to suffer from dehydration issues.
Remember, dry food is surely inexpensive, but you should remember that moderation is the key, especially when your cat is overweight or obese.
Here is a chart that shows the amount of dry food to be given to a typical cat.
How Much To Feed A Cat Chart
|Neutered adult cat|
|Cat aiming to lose weight||1.0 x RER for ideal weight|
|Cat trying to gain weight||1.2-1.8 x RER for ideal weight|
|Very active outdoor cat||2.0-4.0 x RER|
You should remember that an individual cats needs may vary by as much as 50% from these calculated values, and that it is always necessary to modify feeding quantities depending on how a cats body weight changes over time.
Once the daily recommended number of kilocalories has been calculated, you then need to discover how many kilocalories are in the food that you are offering. This depends on the ingredients in the food. You can usually discover this, if not on the food label, by visiting the pet food manufacturers website, or by contacting them directly.
This method will allow you to calculate for yourself, from first principles, approximately how much food you should be feeding your cat.
For many people, this type of calculation is too complex, and they prefer to simply follow the manufacturers guide on the label, modifying this over time depending on how their pets body weight changes.
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Outdoor Cats Need More Nutrition
If you allow your cats to go outside often during the day, it is important that you set up an outdoor feeding station with plenty of water. Outdoor cats may like to go on long strolls, run more often and climb trees, making them more active than indoor cats. That means they need more calories and more food than indoor cats since they are burning more calories outside during the day.
Wet Vs Dry Cat Food For Full
Many cat foods are made for cats of all life stages. It is very important to check your food. You should look at the label for food provides complete and balanced nutrition list of ingredients.
Cats nutritional needs depend on many other factors like her age, weight and her activity level. Consult with your veterinarian if you have certain doubts. You can choose wet dry or the combination of both is the best for your cat.
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Should You Feed Your Cat Both Wet And Dry Food
First, determine if you will be feeding your cat a 100 percent wet food diet or including some dry food. While the gold standard is to feed all wet food to cats, some cats love dry food and will undereat if they are only given wet food. In addition, dry food is more affordable, so feeding part dry will be easier on your budget.
Feeding a mix of wet and dry may require a bit of math to make sure your cat is getting the appropriate number of calories. One easy starting point is to look at the recommended daily feeding amounts on each type of food and halve them.
Once you have settled on the ratio of wet-to-dry, it’s time to determine the calorie count of the food. Make sure you are feeding a quality diet that’s listed as “complete and balanced” by AAFCO. Then, determine the number of calories per portion.
How Much Wet Food Should I Feed My Cat
For starters, have your cat evaluated by a veterinarian. He or she will weigh your cat, identify your cats ideal weight, and determine the number of calories your cat should take in every day to reach that goal.
A pet calorie calculator can also get you into the ballpark. If your cat is severely overweight, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription cat food for weight loss otherwise an over-the-counter weight control cat food should suffice.
Next, look at the label of your cats wet food. At best, the feeding instructions will be somewhat vague, and they certainly dont apply to every cat in every situation. It helps do some math. A wet cat foods caloric content should be listed somewhere on the label.
For example, American Journey minced chicken and tuna recipe provides 73 calories per 3-ounce can. If you cant find this information, look it up on the manufacturers website or give them a call.
Lets say your veterinarian has determined that your cat should take in 240 calories per day. In this example, you simply need to divide 240 by 73 to determine how many 3-ounce cans of the American Journey chicken and tuna recipe you should offer your cat daily.
240 / 73 = 3.3
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