A cat’s life: feeding and nutrition
Good nutrition helps maximize the length and quality of your cat’s life. And because not all cats are the same, their nutritional needs can be very different. But for all cats, good nutrition begins with a complete and balanced diet.
A complete and balanced diet means that your pet is receiving the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and other key nutrients. And it means that your cat’s diet has no excesses or deficiencies, helping to avoid health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and obesity.
There are many high-quality cat foods available to provide your cat with complete, balanced nutrition. Your veterinarian can help recommend a diet that is ideal for your cat and will also be able to guide you toward a special prescription diet if the need arises.
For kittens, a great deal of nutrition is required to grow and thrive in the first year of life. In order to get the correct nutrients for growth, such as calcium and phosphorous, it’s important to feed a food created specifically for kittens through those first twelve months. Most kittens should be fed 3 times a day until they are 6 – 8 weeks of age. After this age, most cats are fed one to two times daily. The quantity of food can be determined by reading the suggested feeding volumes listed on the food bag.
As a kitten becomes an adult cat, nutritional and energy needs change. And feeding the right diet at the right life stage can have a significant impact on the lifespan of your cat. So shift to a diet created specifically to meet the nutritional requirements of an adult cat. These high-quality diets contain carefully balanced ingredients, such as vitamins and antioxidants that are vital for preventing disease.
By the time your cat is seven, you should begin to consider a diet for older cats. Diets targeted to the needs of older cats contain fewer calories, yet just the right balance of essential nutrients.
Obesity at any age can impact the length and quality of your cat’s life, and while genetics play a role in cat obesity, simple overfeeding is a major culprit. However, feeding the correct diet will help to prevent obesity.
Some animals overeat because they have access to too much tasty food. And cats in multiple-pet households may be influenced to overeat due to competition by housemates, so be mindful of competitive eating. Try feeding your pets at separate times and use separate bowls.
Remember that cats require nutrients in their diet that differ from dogs. For this reason, a cat should not be getting meals from the dog’s dish.
Regular vet visits can also help prevent obesity. Your vet can help determine if your cat is overweight, but here are some general guidelines:
- You should be able to easily feel your cat’s ribs, but not see them.
- If you can’t feel your cat’s ribs, your cat is probably overweight.
- If you can easily see the ribs, your cat is probably too thin.
Your cat’s nutritional needs are paramount to overall well-being. And with a complete, well-balanced diet you can help your cat live a long, healthy life!