What Do Cats Eat
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they must have meat in their diet to survive. Their primary ancestors lived on a diet of small rodents and birds. Cats require a high protein diet with a variety of different nutrients such astaurine, arginine, calcium, niacin , pyridoxine and thiamine , to name a few. Many of these nutrients are found in animals only, making a vegetarian diet impossible for cats.
Dietary requirements will change during the different life stages.
- Young kittens require milk for the first three weeks of life, before slowly beginning to eat solid food, around six to ten weeks of age they will begin to wean.
- Pregnant or lactating females have higher nutritional requirements and your veterinarian may recommend feeding her a kitten diet.
- Adult cats require a maintenance diet.
- Senior cats also have unique dietary requirements and should be fed a diet specifically for older cats and/or a special prescription diet to address any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes.
Meat Them Where They Are
The most important rule of weaning is not to rushdo things on the kittens timeline, not yours! Try offering the kitten some small bites of wet food on a finger, a spoon, or a tongue depressor, and see if they will accept it. If theyre interested in eating, see if they are able to access the food in a dish. Remember that this is a new skill for them, so many kittens will find it difficult to eat out of a dish for the first several days. No rush!
Once the kitten has eaten some solids, its time to supplemental feed with a bottle Supplemental feeding ensures that your kitten is getting all of the calories and nutrition she needs during this slow transition. There’s no such thing as “tough love” for kittens, and if she isn’t understanding how to eat yet, you’ll still need to supplement to make sure she’s staying healthy and well fed.
You may also choose to offer the kitten a slurrya mix of formula and wet food, which is used to help transition the kitten from one food to the other. You may begin by just introducing a small teaspoon of wet food mixed with the formula, which allows the kitten to acclimate to the new proteins and flavors. As the kitten becomes more comfortable eating meat, you’ll begin increasing the ratio so that there is more wet food present at each feeding.
Weigh the kitten throughout the weaning process. If her weight drops or steadies, youll need to supplement with a bottle, try a different method of eating, or scale back to kitten formula.
First A Transitional Time
A mother cat will start her litter on the weaning process when they’re about a month old. The kittens will begin to show an interest in cat food around that time. Slowly, they can be given tastes of kitten food that is soaked in water until it’s quite soft. Solid food can be gradually increased as the kittens nurse less often over the next few weeks. When a kitten is about eight weeks old, the weaning process will probably be complete, and he’ll be eating 100 percent kitten food.
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How Much Should A Cat Eat
You should read the instructions on your chosen cat food for detailed information on how much you should feed your cat. You will also need to change the amount of food for kittens, adult cats and senior cats, so make sure you take this into consideration. For example:
Kittens have small stomachs and high energy needs, so they need to be fed little and often. Remember to check their food and replace it four times a day. It is imperative they are fed specific kitten food which provides nutrients required for growing and is more energy dense.
- Adult cats
Your cat is an ‘adult’ when they are between one and eight years old. Your adult cat needs to be fed once or twice a day, but some will regulate their food intake, so their daily ration can be left out, particularly if you give them dry food.
- Senior cats
Cats over eight are considered ‘senior’. As your cat grows older, their nutritional needs change and you can buy special foods that cater for them. These foods may have less protein and a balance of minerals and vitamins designed to keep them in good health.
When Should Cats Be Fed
This depends on the age of the cat and underlying medical problems.
Many pet owners prefer to leave dry food out for their cat all day for their cat to graze on. Others prefer to put food down at set times.
Kittens and pregnant/lactating cats require more frequent meals than adults.
For my own adult cats, I put moist food out for my cats at breakfast and dinner time and leave a bowl of dry food for them to graze on.
If you are feeding raw or canned food, remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes, particularly in warmer months. If you are routinely discarding food, it might be worth reducing the amount given.
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Vegetarian And Vegan Diets For Cats
If youre not a meat eater yourself, it can be hard to feed meat to your cat. While we can choose not to eat meat and get a properly balanced diet from plant-based foods, cats need meat to give them certain nutrients that they cant get anywhere else, so its very difficult for them to survive and stay healthy on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
We always recommend feeding your cat a high quality, complete commercial diet. While there are some vegetarian and vegan cat foods available, before you start feeding them, its essential to make sure your cat will still get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Speak to your vet for advice if you are unsure.
How Much Should You Feed An 8
Your kitten may think she’s as fierce as a lioncapable and independentbut when it comes to nourishment, she relies on her mother’s milk and the solid food you provide. Most kittens are through the weaning process and have transitioned to solid foods by the time they’re eight weeks old. So you might be wondering just how much to feed an eight-week-old kitten.
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What Kind Of Food
Kittens may be fed dry kibble kitten food or wet canned food. The choice is really up to you, based on your veterinarian’s advice. Some kittens may have difficulty chewing dry food properly. If canned food is used, it shouldn’t be left out for extended periods of time without refrigeration. Dry kibble food can stay out longer throughout the day. When a kitten is much older, some owners decide to feed their pet free choice” kibble, where the food is left available for much of the day. Other owners choose to feed wet canned food in single meals.
Carbohydrates Vs Animal Proteins And Fats
A diet with too many carbohydrates is one of the leading causes of obesity and diabetes in felines. While cats do need a small amount of carbohydrate in their diets, they are carnivores by nature and their bodies thrive best on meaty proteins and fatty acids.
Dry cat foods typically contain more carbohydrates than wet food because many dry foods use grains, such as cornmeal and rice, to process the kibble. Some cat foods even contain proteins from vegetables rather than meat, which is also not ideal for your carnivorous cat.
Instead, cats need food low in carbohydrates and high in animal fats and proteins. While some dry foods do contain an acceptable amount of carbohydrate with little or no grain or vegetable products, these are often specialty brands. When shopping for cat food, read the ingredients list and try to minimize ingredients stemming from corn, rice, beans, peas or potatoes.
Regardless of whether you choose dry or wet food, your focus should be on the nutrients it contains. If you need a little guidance about what to look for, read my care guide Understanding Pet Food Labels.
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How Do Kittens Nutritional Needs Differ From Those Of Adult Cats
A kittens weight may double or even triple during the first few weeks of life. To support this explosive growth — as well as high activity levels — your kitten may have triple the energy needs of an adult cat.
These high energy needs make it harder for kittens to get enough calories in one meal, says Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, nutritional consultant and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. So most kittens want to eat at least three or four meals a day, she says. Its also a comfort thing — kittens are snackers at heart.
Kittens needs for fat, some fatty acids, and most vitamins are the same as for adult cats, Larsen says. But kittens have a higher requirement for protein, amino acids, and minerals, as well as for some vitamins. For example, kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein.
For these reasons, most experts recommend you feed your kitten specially formulated kitten food until age 1. Although some cat foods are labeled as appropriate for kittens and cats of all life stages, these arent appropriate for your kitten unless feeding tests support the label claim.
And dont forget to provide plenty of fresh water — its a key to keeping cats of all ages healthy.
Kitten Food Should Be Rich In Certain Vitamins And Minerals
Compared to adult cats, kittens have slightly different vitamin and mineral needs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, kittens should consume food with a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of about 1.0 to 0.8, while adult cats should get a ratio of about 0.6 to 0.5. Kittens also have slightly higher requirements for vitamin A and require slightly greater amounts of the amino acids lysine and tryptophan.
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How Much Should You Feed Your Adult Cat
As your kittens metabolism starts to slow down and he reaches adulthood, you might notice him start to put on excess weight. Obesity is a common issue among adult cats and, when not corrected early on, may lead to complications later in life. Regular exercise and a well-controlled diet will help to prevent obesity and keep your cat in good shape.
Whether you feed your cat homemade cat food or the best commercial cat foods, its critical to feed him the right amount per day. But theres no single amount of food that every cat should eat each day.
Calorie needs vary from cat to cat, with many factors coming into play. When deciding how much to feed your cat, youll have to consider his breed, age, reproductive status, underlying health conditions, and more. In general, however, the recommended daily caloric intake is about 20 calories per pound of bodyweight.
that helps you identify how many calories your cat needs per day.
Why You Should Trust Us
To write this guide, we started by identifying kittens core nutritional needs, reviewing over 159 different cat food brands, reading customer reviews, speaking with market insiders, and testing foods hands-on.
We also consulted 7 veterinarians to get their professional opinion on what makes a great cat food.
Our Veterinary Advisors
At the top of that list is Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Turkey & Chicken Liver Pâté. This canned food has everything your kitten needs without excessive carbs, colors, and other additives. It receives positive customer reviews and comes from a trusted company.
Keep reading to learn more about your kittens nutritional requirements and how we chose the best kitten foods on the market.
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Feeding Wet Kitten Food Vs Dry Kitten Food
Wet cat food has some significant nutritional advantages over dry cat food. Cats are notoriously poor water drinkers, so feeding wet food can help ensure that they remain well-hydrated. High quality wet kitten foods, like Instinct Kitten Grain-Free Pate Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food, tend to contain more meat and protein and be lower in carbohydrates than dry foods, which better matches a kittens nutritional needs in comparison to dry. For these reasons, many veterinarians recommend that most, if not all, of a cats diet consist of wet food.
While most kittens benefit from a diet of wet canned food, there are advantages to feeding them dry food. Dry kitten food tends to be less expensive and can be left out for longer periods of time without spoiling. Kibble can also be used in food puzzles like the PetSafe Funkitty Egg-Cersizer Treat Dispenser Cat Toy, which provides both entertainment and exercise.
Early in life, cats develop strong preferences for how food should taste and what it should feel like in their mouths. Offer your kitten a variety of foods if you want to keep all your options open. However, youll have to keep exposing them to a variety of foods as an adult if you want to avoid food rejection in the future. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the right mix of foods for your kitten.
Do Kittens Drink Milk Or Water
Kittens drink both milk and water. Its vitally important to ensure that they have fresh water at all times, as this is the main way they hydrate after the first few weeks of their life. As they grow, they are slowly weaned off their mothers milk, usually by about 8 weeks of age.
Contrary to popular belief, most cats are actually lactose intolerant, which means their gastrointestinal systems have trouble digesting most milk products. Cow milk, in particular, can cause difficulties and should never be given to kittens. After they are weaned, kittens dont require milk in their diet and should transition naturally to solid foods.
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What Can Cats Eat
Those canned diets and kibble diets may seem boring, but theyre there for a reason.
As long as it contains the AAFCO statement complete and balanced for your cats age, any commercial cat food will meet your cats nutritional needs and contain everything they need to survive and thrive.
I tend to recommend that cats get at least 90% of their daily calories from a complete and balanced source, and the other 10% can be a healthy treat. You can use the Pet Nutrition Alliance calculator to work out how many calories your cat can have as their main meal and as treats. For a healthy 10lb cat, thats just 22kcal treats per day.
In this case, treats means anything thats not a canned or kibble diet. It includes cat treats bought from a store, the slice of bread they snagged from the counter, and the kcal in butter you spread over their pills. It also refers to any people foods you decide to share with your cat.
When Should You Consult Your Vet
- Although mild eating disorders in your cats pregnancy are normal, a vet should be referred to them when she has completely stopped her food intake just before or immediately after she gives birth.
- Other health concerns, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are also causes of concern if the reason is unknown.
- A vets recommendation is necessary when you are providing your cat with some nutritional supplements.
- Take your queen for regular routine checks to make sure her pregnancy is going on smoothly without any complications.
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What Would Happen If I Constantly Fed My Kitten Cat Food
Most foods include a label that specifies which ages they are appropriate for. Many kitten meals are suitable for feeding until your cat reaches the age of 6-12 months. Always examine the foods box or packet for the manufacturers recommendations. These diets are designed to assist your cat in growing and staying as healthy as possible.
Kittens require more calories and protein than adults, which adult diets may not offer. If your kitten isnt getting enough food, he or she may be underweight, malnourished, and begin to show indications of disease or delayed growth.
The following are signs of a bad diet:
- Foraging for food
- Losing weight or being underweight
- Poor quality of coat and skin
- Poor oral hygiene
- Weakness or sluggishness of the muscles
- Untreated malnutrition is another drawback
If your kitten does not receive appropriate nutrition for an extended length of time, you may notice that it appears to be in bad health. Your kitten could be skinny, have a bad coat, and not be as playful as youd want. Malnutrition has the potential to cause major health problems and even death. If youre worried that your cat is too slim, take a body condition score.
Although poor nutrition and its consequences can be resolved, there can be long-term repercussions on immunity and overall health.
When To Switch From Kitten To Cat Food
During their time as kittens, cats often feed on small amounts of food frequently throughout the day. As they get older and mature into full-grown cats, this tends to change to eating just two meals a day – and what they eat should change, as well.
Cat food is different from kitten food. The latter is higher in calories and contains essential nutrients that will help your kitten grow. If an adult cat eats kitten food, they’ll be getting way too many extra calories in their diet, which could cause them to pile on the pounds. And kittens can’t eat adult cat food, as it doesn’t include the vital nutrients they need.
Around your kitten’s first birthday is the right time to switch to adult cat food. You’ll need to transition your kitten, as cats have quite the reputation for being fussy eaters. That’s why, for some pet owners, switching them to adult food can be quite a challenge.
To avoid intestinal upset, it’s best to slowly swap over from the kitten food to the adult food over a few days. Consult your veterinarian for the best way to portion out the food, but it’s usually a ratio of 75/25 kitten to cat food, then 50/50, then 25/75, then 100% adult formulation.
If you were to instantly change what they eat without a gradual introduction, this has the potential to cause your cat to experience stomach upset or even trigger them to go on hunger strikes .
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