Cat nutrition: food, water and obesity prevention
20th November 2017
Take a look at these tips for help with feeding your cat to keep them healthy and prevent obesity.
What to feed your cat
Choosing what to feed your cat can be overwhelming due to the large choice of cat food on the market. By selecting a reputable cat food brand, you can be sure that your cat will have access to a healthy balanced diet.
Different brands of cat food have different nutritional values so it’s important to follow the portion sizes on the back of the packet. Bear in mind that this is only a guideline though. Some cats will be more active than others and may require more food. Monitor your pet’s weight and adjust their diet if necessary.
Consider food that is tailored specifically to your cat’s age. Kitten food contains plenty of vitamins and protein to help with their growth, while senior cat food has fewer calories to suit their less active lifestyle.
Cat food is available in wet or dry varieties. If you are out for much of the day, dry food can be convenient as it can be left out all day. It is also good for dental health. However, if your cat has a medical condition that requires them to stay well hydrated, wet food is recommended due to its high water content.
Cats should never be fed a vegetarian diet as the protein and taurine found in meat is essential to their health, and dog food is a big no-no food because it doesn’t contain the right ingredients to meet a cat’s nutritional needs.
Encouraging your cat to eat
Keep your cat’s food, water and litter tray in separate locations. This encourages them to eat and especially drink more as they don’t have to worry about contamination.
In the wild, cats eat 10-12 small meals per day. Many domestic cats will also like to graze feed in this way, so ensure they have free access to their food throughout the day without overfeeding them.
Cats will often refuse stale food. Remember to replace wet food at least twice a day and dry food at least once a day. To make their food more palatable, a SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder or SureFeed Sealed Pet Bowl can keep the food fresher for longer.
Help out fussy eaters
Don’t be afraid to try a few different types of food before settling on a brand that they like. It’s important to introduce a new food gradually to avoid an upset stomach.
Offer wet food at room temperature rather than straight out of the fridge; some cats may turn their nose up at cold food.
Tackling overweight and obese cats
Obese cats can suffer from health issues such as diabetes or urinary tract infections, so preventing obesity is important for their wellbeing. When your cat is an ideal weight you should be able to see their waist from above and feel their ribs.
Too many treats can quickly cause weight problems. Put a limit on the amount of treats you give your cat and remember, there are other ways you can treat them that don’t involve food. Sometimes a cuddle, scratch behind the ear or a new toy will do just as well!
If you suspect your cat to be overweight, discuss their dietary needs with your vet. Find out what their ideal weight should be and monitor this regularly at home by weighing yourself on the bathroom scales whilst holding your cat.
Stop cats stealing food
If you have more than one cat, keep their food bowls separate, and better still, give each cat a SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder to prevent them from stealing each other’s food. The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder can be programmed to only open for a specific pet’s microchip or RFID collar tag.
Find out from your neighbours if your cat sneaks into their homes for a snack. If your cat can access someone else’s house through a standard cat flap, suggest they install a SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap so that your cat can’t get in. It will be in your neighbour’s best interest too because their own cat won’t suffer from stolen food.
Don’t leave human food out on show; keep it locked away from greedy paws when you’re not eating it.
Opportunities to exercise
Exercise can be a key factor in ensuring your cat maintains a healthy weight. Give your cat free access to the garden through a cat flap so they can come and go whenever they choose. If you have an indoor cat, interactive toys and high perches are ideal for providing much needed exercise. Obesity can be a big problem amongst indoor cats, so get creative!
Keeping your cat hydrated
Cats that eat wet food will get a lot of their water content from their food. Nevertheless, plenty of fresh water should be provided no matter what your cat eats.
Some cats prefer drinking running water from a cat fountain or dripping tap, while others might prefer filtered water if they are sensitive to chlorine. Remember to keep your cat’s water source separate from feeding and toileting areas. Consider multiple water stations both inside and outside of the home to encourage your cat to drink.
This article is in collaboration with Cats Protection.