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CATS - NUTRITION

Content Image Feeding your cat during all life stages
Published 2010/12/09

Feeding newborns

For the first seven to ten days of life, the newborn kitten’s eyes remain closed. Yet during that time, kittens double their birth weight and become increasingly more active. Always allow the kitten to get the colostrum (the antibody-rich first milk from the mother), which give him protection on his first months of life, and if possible, never wean the kitten before 3-4 weeks of age, since he is still getting some local intestinal protection from the mother’s milk. The typical introduction of a kitten to solid food (around 3 to 4 weeks of age) usually amounts to the kitten romping around and through the female's food bowl, and licking moistened dry food from its paws. Kitten traffic will tend to compact the food, so stirring the compacted diet or offering fresh amounts periodically should be considered. By six weeks of age, most kittens are ready to be weaned. If they have started to eat solid foods from the female's dish, it is not unusual for kittens to begin to wean themselves at about four to five weeks of age.

Feeding kittens

Research shows that a kitten grows from infancy to young adulthood in approximately one year, and during its first 20 weeks a kitten can increase its birth weight 20 times. At 26 weeks of age, the growth rate starts to level off. However, kittens continue to develop inside with normal growth ending at about 12 months of age. Kittens also require about twice the energy of adult cats.

Kittens require higher levels of protein than puppies, and also have a unique requirement for the free amino acid taurine. Lack of sufficient taurine in a kitten's diet could result in impaired vision. They also need essential fatty acids as linoleic an araquidonic acids. For these and other reasons, it is recommended that kittens be fed only foods developed for kittens. When a nutritionally complete and balanced food is offered to a normal, healthy kitten, supplementing the diet with vitamins and minerals is not necessary.

It is recommended that kittens be fed two to three times a day during this period of rapid growth, and many owners make food available at all times along with a source of fresh, clean water. Dry food can be moistened with warm water to help soften the food and make it easier to eat. Moistened dry food or canned food left at room temperature can become unpalatable and may even spoil if left out for several hours. Uneaten portions should be removed and discarded after one hour. As with other animals, any diet changes should be made gradually over a 7 to 10 day period to avoid causing digestive upset.

Kittens tend to be "occasional" eaters as they take a large number of small meals throughout the day. Normally the kitten approaches the food, sniffs it quickly and then starts to eat. After consuming a small portion of the food, the kitten leaves and returns at various intervals to eat. This behaviour should not be confused with a reluctance or refusal to eat. Too much noise, new surroundings, the cleanliness of food/water dishes may all be factors to consider if a kitten refuses to eat. If food refusal is prolonged and/or the kitten shows signs of illness such as listlessness, diarrhoea, repeated vomiting, discharge from the eyes or nose, straining to urinate or constipation, or unusual hiding in dark places, a veterinarian should be consulted at once.

From six months to one year, kittens should be fed twice a day if they are fed a canned, soft-moist, or moistened dry food. Dry food can be fed freely, filling the bowl with a sufficient quantity of food once each day. However, overfeeding should be avoided. Kittens should be fed as individuals, and amounts to feed will depend upon activity and body condition. It's a good idea to start with amounts recommended on the package label, and to use this information as a guide. Adjust the amount fed to obtain a healthy body condition. A veterinarian can help the owner assess the cat's body condition and, if necessary, help plan an appropriate weight reduction program.

Cats, like people, have individual food preferences. Kittens from the same litter may acquire different tastes and eating habits. However, the cat's reputation for being a finicky eater is usually the result of feeding practices established by the owner. The more variety a cat is offered, the more variety it will expect. With the wide choice of commercial cat foods, it is easy to provide a nutritionally complete and balanced diet that a cat will eat.

If you feed your cat with a complete, well-balanced diet, he or she will have all the ingredients necessary to be healthy and will not need additional supplements.

Thinking about your kitten’s needs, 1st Choice has developed a complete Super Premium Kitten, Growth, Chicken formula of high quality for the growing period of your favourite pet. It is perfectly adapted to meet the specific requirements of kittens and make them feel and look incredible.

Feeding adult cats

An adult cat with a normal level activity, requires only a maintenance diet. A good-quality commercial cat food that is complete and balanced for maintenance or for all life stages is appropriate to feed to adult cats that are not pregnant or nursing.

Cats should be fed according to their individual needs, activity level, temperature, and body metabolism. The daily feeding guidelines on cat food bags are a good reference to identify the ideal weight of your cat according to his age. The daily amounts indicated in these guidelines will meet all your cat’s protein, fat, vitamins and minerals requirements.

Cats require a higher level of dietary protein and a different nutrient balance than dogs. Like kittens, mature cats require the addition of taurine to their diet while dogs do not. These unique dietary requirements are met by providing cats with complete and balanced cat foods, and for these reasons it is not recommended to feed adult cats with dog food. A cat can be fed a maintenance diet after it is one year of age. Maintenance diets are not appropriate for kittens, or pregnant or nursing females.

The average seven-to nine-pound cat (3.2 – 4.1 kg) requires about three ounces (85 g) of dry food or semi-moist food, or 6 to 8 ounces (170 g – 227 g) of canned food per day. The amount of food needed will vary according to the nutrient density of the food and the individual cat. Even when all factors are the same, two cats of similar size, age, and activity may need different amounts of food simply because they have different metabolism rates. A cat's appetite and total food consumption will vary from day to day. Loss of appetite or reluctance to eat is not problems in adult cats unless they persist for several days or the cat shows symptoms of illness. If this happens, the cat should be examined by a veterinarian.

 

Here are some feeding recommendations to maintain your cat in a good body condition through different life stages:

Adult Maintenance:
At this level, the only concerns for feeding your cat are providing excellent nutrition to promote health and prevent overweight. Just feed your companion animal with a high-quality maintenance formula.

The 1st Choice Adult, Maintenance, Chicken formula with specially selected ingredients, is adapted to meet the specific needs of your adult cat so he can live a longer and healthier life.

If you are having troubles with your cat not wanting to eat his traditional food, 1st Choice presents you its special Adult, Maintenance, Ocean Delight, with a totally delicious flavour, that even the fussiest eaters would want to try.

Gestation and Lactation:
This period represent a high increase in nutritional requirements for your pet. During the three last weeks of gestation (of a total of nine weeks) the kittens will occupy a great amount of space in the mother’s abdominal cavity, thus she should be fed in small amounts several times a day. It is really important to feed a highly-digestible, nutrient-dense food during these period. In lactation, the water and energy consumption are even more essential, since the nutritional requirements of the new mom can increase up to 3 or 4 times.

During this really demanding period, a high-digestible and energy-dense diet is required. 1st Choice Kitten, Growth, Chicken formula can provide all the proteins and energy your pet will need to undergo her maternity period.

Senior or Less Active Cats:
A reduced physical activity as a result of aging or just as a lifestyle, could lead your pet into overweight or even obesity. Overweight cats may have more health problems and a shorter life expectancy. Often a cat's weight can be reduced simply by eliminating table scraps and treats from the diet and by avoiding high-energy cat foods. Diets with moderate to low energy but which still contains high-quality ingredients (specially a good source of protein) should be selected.

Always concerned about the well-being of your pet, 1st Choice recommend the use of its Super Premium fat-reduced, Less Active and Senior, Chicken formula, specially designed to meet the needs of less active, aging adult cats and/or slightly overweight adult cats. Because cats tend to be nibblers or "occasional” eaters, they should have access to their food for several hours each day. And as with other animals, an available source of clean, fresh water is important for virtually all body functions, such as digestion, absorption, circulation, transporting nutrients, building tissues and helping to regulate body temperature.


 

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