Pet parents, are you sometimes questioning whether you are feeding your cat the right amount?
In this instalment of The Cat Guide we are unpacking everything you need to know about feeding your furry friend.
Whether it is your first cat or you’re a fully fledged cat paw-rent, you may be wondering whether your cat is eating too much food or too little.
"Obesity is the most common nutrition-related health problem in cats, it makes them susceptible to a number of diseases such as diabetes, urinary tract disease, and arthritis; obesity can also shorten their lifespan.
That is why maintaining a healthy weight is a really important consideration for the long term health and wellbeing of cats.
Cats vary greatly in the amount of food they need to consume to ensure they don’t become over-or underweight.
Feeding guides provide a good starting point but it is important that over time you regularly monitor your cats bodyweight and if necessary adjust how much you feed so that you meet the needs of your individual cat."
- Richard Butterwick BSc, PhD
In order to find out the answer, let’s look at some of the things to consider…
So, how much is the right amount to feed your cat? The answer is based on a few factors, such as your cat’s age, level of activity, type of food and whether they are pregnant.
The type of food your cat eats will affect how much you should feed them.
For example, a high quality, denser dry cat food should contain more nutritional value gram-for-gram than a lower quality food, therefore needing smaller portions to get the same level of nutrition for your cat.
If your cat is allowed free access to their dry food (and isn’t a greedy guts), then this can serve as a good diet plan, so long as they are provided with plenty of available fresh water to compensate for the lack of moisture.
Many pet parents choose this method, and supplement wet food once or twice a day.
When Should I Feed My Cat?
For new additions to your furry family, it is important to keep to the feeding schedule they are accustomed to.
It is also important to find out which food they were eating and continue to use this. Then you can gradually switch this over to your own preferred type of food and synchronise their feeding times to your schedule.
As cats are creatures of habit, and are very sensitive to change, a slow and steady process should be employed when switching feeding times.
When you are ready to make the switch, use the calorie information provided on your food to determine how much to feed your cat.
If you are not sure that this is the right amount of food for your cat, then you can calculate the amount using the rough guide below and the calorie information on the pack.
If the pack doesn’t give calorie values, you can usually find this on the manufacturer’s website or via customer support, if the manufacturer doesn’t know the calorific content, we suggest you choose a different food!
A good rule-of-thumb to use for finding out how many calories your cat requires is roughly 44 to 73 calories per kilogram.
This of course depends on the cat’s energy level, age and mobility. An indoor cat will be fine with this amount, whereas a more active outdoor cat can consume a larger amount of food as they burn off more calories.
Wet or Dry Food?
Another question you may ask yourself alongside “how much should I feed my cat?” is what type of food is best.
Ideally, carbohydrates should be no more than 10% of the overall ingredients, and wet food should contain as few fillers and by-products as possible (just like our food!).
Dry food typically contains around 300-380 calories per 100g, while wet food is around 70-100 calories per 100g. As always however, it is best to check the label first.
It is worth charting how much your cat usually eats, as this can be a great help to vets.
If you use “free feeding” for your cat (where their bowl is filled and left throughout the day) be sure to measure out their daily allowance of food, as this will help you keep a track of their calorie intake and prevent stale food going to waste.
Free feeding is one of the leading causes of feline obesity, particularly in cats with little impulse control…
Another factor to consider when determining how much to feed your cat is how often they are fed.
Most cat parents choose to feed their cats once in the morning and once in the evening, supplementing this with free feeding of available dry food throughout the day and plenty of fresh water.
For cats who simply cannot handle the temptation of free feeding, there are a number of dispensers available that can be programmed to release food at certain intervals, just be careful when refilling…
Throughout your cat’s life, their metabolism will change, and so will their dietary needs.
When stroking your cat, if their ribs and backbone show through the skin, the cat could potentially be too thin, and if you cannot feel their ribs, they may be overweight.
In these cases, the best bet is a visit to the vet to discuss adjusting their food portions, and rule out any underlying causes.
Food to Avoid
Some foods that we eat can be toxic to cats. Even if they seem to enjoy chewing it down, the harmful effects of some food can crop up much later, and can then be overlooked as a direct cause of upset.
It may be tempting when your cat stares up at you during dinnertime (yours, that is), but as any pet parent will tell you, feeding them from your plate can turn quickly into a habit, and many of the foods that we enjoy can cause long term health problems for your cat.
Here are a few examples of food that is dangerous to cats.
Allium Vegetables (Onions, garlic, leeks, chives, etc)
These vegetables contain alliinase, which damages white blood cells and can lead to anaemia and acute kidney failure!
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to cats, in the worst cases, this can prove fatal.
Avocado contains persin, a toxin that can cause breathing difficulties and convulsions.
Feeding your cat too much liver can result in bone deformation, caused by too much Vitamin A.
Grapes and Raisins
Known to be very harmful to dogs, possible side effects for cats are still being discovered, so it is best to avoid these.
Peppers and chilis are much more potent to cats than us, so lay off the heat!
Pork can carry parasites which causes toxoplasmosis, whilst this may not cause symptoms in your cat, it can be passed to humans through contact with their poop, which is particularly harmful for pregnant women.
Milk and Dairy Products
Even though cats may have a reputation for enjoying a saucer of milk, they have trouble digesting the lactose found in milk products, and this is known to lead to tummy troubles and diarrhoea.
If in doubt about your cat’s weight or eating habits, speak to your vet who can offer further advice.
Preventing your cat from being overweight is a walk in the park compared to forcing an obese cat to diet, and with these tips, feeding times can quickly become a happy routine for you and your cat.
22/01/2021 by NatuTeam