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Cats - Food

Historically, cats have eaten mostly meat from mice, but this diet did not provide enough nutrients for the cats.  In order to improve the overall health of cats, a specific cat food was created in 1876. Cat food has since become a major component in ensuring good health with a wide variety of products being offered for kittens, senior, active and overweight cats.

Different Types of Cat Food

One thing cat owners should research is the food that they are feeding their cats in order to ensure it is the right kind to maximize the health of their particular cat.  Cats have requirements for specific daily nutrients including vitamins and amino acids. These nutrients are often degraded by temperatures and chemical treatments that are used by the manufacturer, so they have to be added afterwards. Not feeding your cat the right diet can lead to cardiac damage and vision loss. Commercial cat food can be bought as dry food (also known as kibble) or wet canned food. Some stores also sell frozen raw food or more premium products for cats on alternative diets. Dry food is usually made by extrusion cooking under heat and high pressure. Wet food is usually more expensive and does not keep as long as dry food, but is a good choice to add moisture and protein to your cat’s diet. Many pet owners feed their cats homemade diets that contain some form of cooked or raw meat. There are also many different types of cat food to choose from for your particular cat’s needs.

Understanding Labeling on Cat Food

In the United States, for a cat food to be labeled as ‘complete and balanced’ it must meet certain dietary requirements which were established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. There are no legal definitions for products that are labeled as premium, ultra-premium, holistic, and natural. It is important to not let these claims lead you to buying a more expensive product because there are no regulations as to what it stands for.

How Much to Feed Your Cat

The average energy requirements for inactive adult cats range between 60 and 70 kcal of metabolized energy per kg of body weight per day. Kittens at five weeks of age require at least 250 kcal per kg of body weight. The number of calories needed tapers off with age, stabilizing at 50 weeks. Gestating cats need 90-100kcal/kg of body weight and lactating cats need 90-270kcal/kg of body weight, depending on how many kittens are born. Obese or senior cats require special food with lower calories. There are many different cat foods to choose from at a wide variety of price points, so it is good to do your research. Some comprehensive websites to look at for cat food include Friskies, Petfooddirect and Iams.

How Often to Feed Your Cat

Many people debate whether cats should be fed multiple times a day or have their food left out all day. The most agreed upon method is once in the morning and then once in the evening, but this also depends on your cat’s energy output which can lead to more calories being required. The quality, nutritional value and density of your cat food will determine how much you feed your cat. Talk with your vet or local pet care provider to find out the best feeding routine to establish with your cat. One thing to ensure is that your cat always has access to clean fresh drinking water. Many people like to feed their cats milk, but many cats can become sensitive, or even allergic, to milk, so make sure you check with your pet care provider beforehand. There are also many different treats to choose from that can add a variety of nutrients to your cat’s diet, including hairball control, weight control and more. A cat’s diet needs to be monitored because it is much easier to prevent a cat from becoming obese than forcing an obese cat to diet or exercise.

 

Your cat’s health is directly related to its diet, so it is important to do your homework and find out the best food to help optimize your cat’s health and overall well-being. Make sure that you keep in mind that your cat’s dietary needs will change over their lifespan because of changing metabolism and activity levels, so assess your cat’s needs routinely.