Tips for Feeding Your Cat

If you would consider the best for your baby, you would do so for your cat too! Your cat also requires sufficient nourishment to live a long and healthy life. Nutrition is the fuel for everything your cat does, including growth, mental and physical development, the quality of the skin and coat, and exercise. One of the first considerations that you will have to make is what food to feed your cat. It should not come as a surprise that y, your cat’s nutritional demands will fluctuate as they get older. Their dietary needs are not constant and will change over the course of their lives. Ensuring that you always give your cat the proper food is a crucial aspect of sustaining their health. Even if it may require adjusting their diet multiple times over their life.

Feeding a Kitten

Kittens begin consuming solid food, and soft food when they are about 4 weeks old. During this phase, some canned kitten food with meat is ideal. This food comes in a semi-solid form that is easy to eat and digest. Moreover, at this age, they are still weaning their mother’s milk and normally continue to nurse and eat kitten food until they are about 5 or 6 weeks old. You can also allow your kittens to eat as much of it as they want. This is because they are unlikely to get overweight at this age.

Feeding an Adult Cat

Your cat does not require the consistently elevated amounts of minerals, protein, and energy that it did when it was a dynamically growing kitten. So, as your cat crosses the 12-month mark, you should switch to a high-quality diet that is specifically tailored for adult cats’ nutritional needs. For an adult cat, you can choose dry as well as wet foods, or even a combination of both. If you feed your cat dry food, it will chew it more aggressively and will consume it over a longer length of time. With this option, it will have to drink more water separately. Additionally, dry food keeps fresh all day, so you can put some out for your cat to nibble on. Cats, unlike dogs, are more attracted to munch on their dry food and find it less appealing when drenched. Explore Adult Cat Food Options

Feeding a Senior Cat

Cats commonly acquire weight and display age-related physical and behavioural changes around the mid-life mark, when they are considered to have matured. However, before moving to a senior cat food recipe, you should first consult your cat’s veterinarian for a comprehensive medical and metabolic evaluation. Energy requirements in cats first drop in their senior years, similar to humans, but unlike us, their energy requirements begin to increase around about 11 years of age. This is because cats have trouble digesting lipids, proteins, and energy as they age.

Protein is an essential component for preserving physical health as we age. The same high protein and low carbs option provided to any younger cat that is prone to obesity is fine in healthy senior cats. However, once kidney disease is diagnosed, a kidney support diet containing a modified protein component improves longevity and quality of life. Similarly, there are other condition-specific diets that can be availed.

Cat Nutrition

There are a few food groups that are very necessary for your cat’s nutrition. 

  1. Protein: Dietary protein provides necessary amino acids, which are required for the synthesis of antibodies, enzymes, hormones, as well as tissues. It also helps in maintaining adequate pH balance. It gives cats energy and is necessary for their growth and development. Complete and animal-based proteins are found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. They contain adequate levels of essential amino acids. Cats require animal sources of this vitamin because vegetarian amino acids are poorly processed by a cat’s body.
  2. Fats: This concentrated energy source also contains important fatty acids and aids in nutrient utilisation and transfer. It is also important in cell integrity and metabolic control. Saturated fat is generally found in animal sources, whereas polyunsaturated fat is mostly found in plants. Fatty acids make up fats (and oils). Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are the main kinds of this required nutrient.
  3. Minerals: These are necessary for your cat and play a role in practically all physiological reactions. These are found in the bone and muscle tissue and contribute to enzyme creation, pH regulation, nutrition use, and oxygen transfer. Biological availability might vary greatly given the nutrient’s source. Elemental minerals are typically obtained naturally. The chelated ones are those that have been bonded with other organic compounds, making them more absorbable by the body. Calcium, chloride, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, sulphur, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sodium, and zinc are examples of minerals. Other minerals are required in trace amounts by cats. Minerals work synergistically by having a collaborative action.
  4. Vitamins: These nutrients are required for metabolic regulation as well as appropriate growth and function. Some are generated within the body while others are obtained in food. They are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. A, D, E, and K are examples of fat-soluble vitamins. C and the B complex are members of the water-soluble group. Fat-soluble vitamins are generally retained in the body, whereas water-soluble vitamins are passed more quickly.  The cat’s body prefers animal sources of nutrition to plant sources because they are more conveniently processed.

Now that you have an idea about what your cat’s nutritional requirements are, have a look at some general feeding tips:

  1. When it comes to choosing what to feed your cats, it’s also a good idea to have two or three different types of kibble to choose from. 
  2. Your cat instinctively needs you to distinguish between its water and food.
  3. It’s helpful for the kitty’s digestive system if the plate is slightly higher; it makes the digestion process easier by allowing the food to pass easily to the neck and extending the stomach.
  4. Try heating the food during winters. The cans of food may get cold, so before you feed it to your cat, try warming it up a little.
  5. When you open a package of cat food, place it in a glass jar and cover it with a metal lid to keep it crispy.
  6. Avoid using plastic containers/plates to feed your fluffy.
  7. You can divide dry or wet cat food on the plate, similar to how you would spread butter or peanut butter on toast, to encourage your cat to lick the food instead of devouring it all at once. Especially when the food is in the form of a dough.
  8. If your cat likes Kibble, you can put it inside an interactive toy if it eats quickly.

How to feed a cat?

You can feed your cat via three broad methods.

Meal Feeding, Free Feeding, and Combination Feeding.

1. Meal Feeding

Meal feeding implies that you only feed your cat at specified times of the day. This method can be used for both canned as well as dry foods. With this method, food consumption will be closely tracked, making it easy to detect whether your cat’s appetite has changed. However, between meals, cats may beg for food. Your cat sometimes has little control over how much it wishes to consume.

2. Free Feeding

When you choose this feeding method, the idea is that food is always available. Remember that you can only feed dry foods in this manner because the wet food is not kept out all day. If your cat has been leaving some kibble in the bowl for a few days at a stretch, even then you should throw it away to keep it fresh. Your cat can take several tiny meals throughout the day on its own timetable. The secret to the success of free-feeding is to place the appropriate amount of dry kibble in the dish once every day. However, free-feeding has a risk of your cat’s overeating and becoming obese. Therefore, you have to be very careful.

3. Combination Feeding

Mixed feeding is when canned food is served twice a day while dry food is made available all the time. Combination feeding permits your cat to consume several portions of small dry food meals on their own time. When you give them wet/canned food at a specified time of day, you can at least partially monitor their appetite. It also provides the benefits of both wet and dry kibble to cats.

How many times to feed a cat?

There is no thumb rule regarding the number of times that you should feed your cat. It depends on the age, level of activity, the kind of feeding method, and any underlying condition it has. It is advisable to consult with a vet before framing your cat’s diet and eating schedule.

Some mistakes that people make while feeding cats:

Feeding your cat alongside other pets can either make it overeat or deprive it of its daily requirements. Cats prefer interaction with the food. They prefer eating multiple and frequent meals spread throughout the day rather than fixing 2 meals. So if you are feeding your cat 2 fixed largely-portioned meals, you may re-consider feeding methods. A lot of people use plastic containers unconsciously. This is something you should refrain from.

It is not a tough job to make yourself aware and follow these basics to give your fluffy a very long and healthy life.