Diet plan for cat is one important thing that people should think of before taking their pets home. There are a lot of things that people need to consider when bringing a pet at home. They have to consider the expenses and costs needed for taking care of them.
Have you ever wondered how’s the importance of animal nutrition? There are even those who state that it is of greater importance than “technical” breeding. This may sound surprising, but if we carry out a brief analysis will get to see that these people do not lie.
Diet Plan For Cat
Your cat needs a balanced diet. The easiest way to guarantee your cat gets the nutrition they need is to give them a good quality cat food.
- Cat food is usually called either complete or complementary.
complete foods provide all the nutrients, in the right balance, so that no other food is needed
- complementary foods (such as treats and snacks) must be combined with other foods to give your cat all the nutrients they need
Water is an important part of your cat’s diet. You must give your cat fresh water daily.
Which is the best cat food?
When deciding what to feed your cat it is important to start off with the basics.
- Always choose a ‘complete’ cat food, one that contains all the nutrition they need in one single food source. This will make sure they’re getting all the vital nutrients they need
- Pick a brand who are members of the Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA). This will mean the food is safe for your pet and high quality. Check the packaging to find out
- Avoid feeding extra food when feeding a complete diet. It is ok to give the occasional treat but it’s important not to overfeed your cat
- Make sure you’re choosing the correct food for your cat’s age. Kittens need a different balance of nutrients to elderly cats, for example, so make sure you choose the food that is right for your cat’s life stage
If you are interested in finding out if your cat would benefit from a more tailored product, your vet will be able to advise what will be the most appropriate diet for your cat’s age, weight, breed and health status. There are many to choose from and they often come in different flavours, formats and textures so there will be something out there just right for your cat!
Should I feed my cat dry or wet cat food?
Whether to feed wet or dry food will be entirely down to your cat’s own preference. Cats are very particular about what they like and what they don’t. Wet and dry cat food have very different textures and smells, so if you’re unsure which they prefer offer them both and see which they are eating and which they are leaving.
If your cat prefers dry food, remember that a surprisingly small amount will provide them with a square meal. In order not to overfeed, you’ll likely need to weigh this out to make sure they’re getting the right amount. As it contains less water, you may notice them drinking a little more than if they were on wet food. Remember to provide fresh water every day. You can find out more in our guide on cats and drinking.
What food should I give my kitten?
Once fully weaned, kittens have different needs to adult cats. They’re still growing so need a different balance of nutrients to keep them healthy.
When you look for kitten food, make sure to pick a food specifically for their age. Generally, most kitten food will be suitable for your kitten up to 12 months old, but always double check the age on the packet.
Vegetarian and raw diets for cats
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need meat to stay healthy and thrive. Their digestive system hasn’t adapted to eating a plant-based diet and there are certain nutrients and proteins they can only get from meat. For this reason we would not recommend feeding your cat a vegan or vegetarian diet.
If you’re considering feeding your cat a raw diet, always speak to your vet first. There are some commercially available, complete raw cat foods which can meet all your cat’s nutritional needs. It’s better to choose these over trying to prepare a raw diet yourself as it can be difficult to make sure they’re getting a balanced diet and it could make your cat unwell if not prepared correctly.
It’s fine to give your cat the occasional treat, but they can quickly pile on the pounds if they have too many.
Instead of giving your cat food treats, you could try:
- getting them a new toy
- adding extra playtime into their day
- giving them extra fuss and attention (if they enjoy this)
- if they have dry food, try putting a small portion of their daily allowance into a puzzle feeder to make food time more exciting
Can cats eat human food?
You should avoid giving your cat human food as it can unbalance their diet and not all human food is safe for our cats to eat.
If you really want to give your cat a special treat, we’d recommend cat treats from pet shops or supermarkets. However, a very small amount of well-cooked fresh fish or chicken is safe to give your cat as an occasional treat.
Avoid giving your cat things like milk and liver as these can make them poorly.
How much food?
Check the label on your chosen food for advice on quantities.
Keep an eye on your cat and check their weight to make sure you aren’t under- or over-feeding. Preventing your cat from gaining weight is easier than helping them lose weight.
Neutered cats typically need less energy, so consider reducing the amount of food you provide.
How much should a cat eat?
You should read the instructions on your chosen cat food for detailed information on how much you should feed your cat. You will also need to change the amount of food for kittens, adult cats and senior cats, so make sure you take this into consideration. For example:
Kittens have small stomachs and high energy needs, so they need to be fed little and often. Remember to check their food and replace it four times a day. It is imperative they are fed specific kitten food which provides nutrients required for growing and is more energy dense.
- Adult cats
Your cat is an ‘adult’ when they are between one and eight years old. Your adult cat needs to be fed once or twice a day, but some will regulate their food intake, so their daily ration can be left out, particularly if you give them dry food.
- Senior cats
Cats over eight are considered ‘senior’. As your cat grows older, their nutritional needs change and you can buy special foods that cater for them. These foods may have less protein and a balance of minerals and vitamins designed to keep them in good health
Important things about feeding your cat
- Feed your cat a complete food that’s suitable for their life stage, eg kitten, adult or senior cat – the food packaging will advise which life stage it is aimed at.
- Follow the instructions on the food’s packaging for how much to feed and how often
- Don’t feed your cat a vegetarian or vegan diet. Cats are obligate carnivores: this means that there are certain nutrients essential to cats that are only found in meat. If they are fed a diet that does not contain meat they can get very unwell.
- Use feeding enrichment toy to keep your cat occupied and make feeding more enjoyable – you can even make your own enrichment toys
- Speak to your vet if you have any diet questions or you’re concerned about your cat’s weight.
What should I feed my cat?
Head to your nearest supermarket’s pet food aisle and you’ll find plenty of cat foods to choose from. But with so much on offer, how can you decide what is best for your cat?
Before you buy, remember to choose food specially formulated for cats. Dog food simply isn’t suitable and food intended for humans doesn’t necessarily include all the nutrients that your cat needs. The best food for your cat (unless they have special dietary needs) is likely to be a complete cat food from a reputable brand. Your vet will be well placed to guide you to the best food for your cat.
Homemade cat foods might be good for occasional treats, but it is very difficult to give your cat the right balance of proteins, vitamins and minerals your cat needs to thrive – unless this has been recommended by your vet.
Vitamin supplements aren’t necessary if you are feeding your cat good quality cat food – unless recommended by your vet too. Vitamin supplements could cause a dietary imbalance which could harm your cat – always speak to your vet about any food supplements first.
What treats can I feed my cat?
Every cat-owner will be all too aware that cats love treats. If you do opt to give your cat treats, make sure you limit the amount throughout the day so they don’t gain weight. Treats specially formulated for cats are a much better option than leftovers or raw meat, although a small amount of cooked chicken or fish is fine.
Food enrichment puzzles and toys are great ways to keep your cat occupied as well as limiting their treat intake. Alternatively, why not treat your cat to a little extra attention or play time? You’ll strengthen the bond between you and your cat, without the potential weight gain.
Cats need different foods at different stages of their life, which is why we recommend feeding an appropriate life stage diet. From specially formulated kitten food to senior, indoor and low calorie. Your vet might prescribe a prescription diet if you cat has a health problem, like kidney disease or joint problems, or if they are particularly overweight. Before you decide to try a new diet with your cat, is it always important to speak to your vet.
Can cats eat vegetables?
Cats are meat eaters, making vegetarian and vegan diets unsuitable for their needs. Your cat needs more protein than many other mammals and they need specific amino acids such as taurine in order to survive. This is why it is important to feed your cat food that is made just for them.
There are a few vegetables that you can feed your cat (if they’re keen!) These include: carrots, peas, corn, broccoli and spinach. Steer clear of garlic and onion as these can be difficult to digest and can make cats very ill.
Can cats eat cooked chicken?
One common question that many cat owners ask is whether it is ok to feed their cat chicken. Cats are carnivores, which means they are meat eaters and in the wild will eat raw meat in the form of their prey. For your pet cat, always ensure that any chicken you feed them is cooked – preferably boiled and does not contain any bones. Remember to include chicken as part of your cat’s daily treat allowance, fed in conjunction with a balanced diet. Feeding only cooked chicken long term can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Is chocolate poisonous to cats?
While most human treats should be avoided, chocolate is a complete no-no for cats. Just 2g of chocolate – not even as big as a square – is enough to do serious damage to your cat due to its levels of theobromine. Theobromine acts as a stimulant, increasing the heart rate and acting as a diuretic to increase the loss of bodily fluids. As cats struggle to metabolise theobromine, the chemical stays in the bloodstream and quickly reaches dangerous levels.
Keep chocolate out of reach of your cat, and if you suspect they have eaten any chocolate, head to the vet straight away.
How to get your cat to eat
Cats are clever. You might have noticed that if they don’t like the food they’re offered, they can wait for a while until something they prefer is provided. Some cats are fussier than others, and some can stop eating due to illness or stressed. If your cat is off their food and this is unusual, make sure you see a vet to rule out any underlying illnesses or behavioural problems.
You can encourage your cat to eat by:
- offering different wet and dry foods at different times, and introduce new foods slowly
- giving wet food at room temperature, instead of straight from the fridge
- offering small, regular amounts of food rather than a large portion – this is less overwhelming and ensures the food is always fresh
- offering food with a strong odour. Warming it up can increase the scent, but be careful not to make it too hot!
- adding a drop of tasty yeast extract spread, fish oil or kitten food to your cat’s meal. This can make food more appetising but shouldn’t be done regularly. Ask your vet for more advice.
- sitting down with your cat, or hand feeding them. This can induce their appetite. Try a small amount of chicken and fish as a treat if they’re struggling.
When to call the vet
Watch out for changes in your cat’s eating and drinking behaviour, as this could indicate that something is wrong. See your vet if your cat:
- normally eats well but suddenly stops
- has not eaten for 48 hours
- develops a ravenous appetite
- will only eat with one side of their mouth
- makes a grinding noise when they eat
- starts drinking noticeably more than usual
- loses weight for no apparent reason
- is vomiting or has diarrhoea
Regular eating and drinking is essential to your cat’s health. If your cat doesn’t eat, even for a few days, they can develop a condition of the liver which can be fatal in severe cases.
How often should I feed my cat?
If your cat is older than 6 months old, they should be fine if fed two times a day. Once your cat is older than one year, they should be fine only being fed once a day but this can differ with each cat and they might still need feeding twice.
Cats like to eat lots of small meals – around 10-12 throughout the day. Pet cats often prefer the same, although their feeding behaviour depends on their environment and their past experiences.
Fresh wet food should be replaced at least twice daily.
Dry food should be replaced at least once daily.
If you are worried about your cat’s weight, a good way to slow their eating is to use toys. Watch our video below with some great advice on how to make your own cat feeding toys.
Five important things
- Cats must eat meat. They are ‘obligate carnivores’ which means cats cannot be vegetarian
- Choose a cat food that is complete rather than complementary so that your pet gets a complete, balanced diet.
- Cats like to eat away from other cats
- Keep food, water and litter trays in different places so your cat knows that their food and water are clean.
- Your cat needs fresh water, which should be changed daily
Pregnant cats and mum feeding kittens
If you’ve got a pregnant cat or a cat that is feeding her new kittens, you’ll need to provide additional nutrients and the same high-protein kitten food as weaned kittens.
Give your pregnant cat unlimited access to kitten food, as well as a supply of fresh drinking water. While you might notice that during pregnancy, she may only eat a little more than usual; she might eat double or triple the usual amount of food when she is suckling kittens.
What can I feed my kitten?
By providing your cat with a balanced diet during her pregnancy and while she is suckling, she’ll be able to feed her kittens until they are weaned – between six to eight weeks old. Begin the weaning process by offering well-mashed kitten food from three to four weeks of age. If you’ve got a large litter of kittens, you might have to supplement the kitten’s diet with special kitten milk at an earlier age.
If the kitten’s mum is unable to feed her young, or the kittens are orphaned, you’ll need to take over the feeding completely.
IMPORTANCE OF ANIMAL NUTRITION
Minerals are chemical elements of growing importance thanks to studies that have revealed their functions. Previously they were considered minor dietary components. However, it is now recognized that they are fundamental for the correct functioning of the organism. These elements are present in all body cells to fulfill different metabolic functions.
Minerals in animal nutrition are obtained through the feed. For this reason, a correct balance of the percentage of macro and microminerals that each animal requires must be made.
In ruminants, minerals are obtained through forages and feed. The number of minerals present in these forages is variable, so they should be supplemented according to this mineral composition. The type of pasture and soil change the composition of minerals supplied in the diet.
In poultry and swine, minerals are mainly obtained in the feed as it constitutes their main source of food. This feed must be of high quality to ensure a correct balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and minerals. In addition, salts are available to supplement the diet to ensure that poultry and swine ingest the recommended amounts of minerals.
Importance of macrominerals
Macrominerals are the group of mineral elements most needed by animals in their diet to fulfill a myriad of physiological functions. Deficiencies of these elements cause various pathologies or dysfunctions that must be promptly corrected. Moreover, depending on the animal species (poultry, swine, or ruminant), the signs and effects may vary.
It is the most abundant macromineral in the body of animals since it constitutes the essential material to form structures such as bones and teeth. In addition, it fulfills cellular functions of great importance in multiple organs such as the heart, intestine, and muscles.
Calcium deficiency is characterized by decalcification and rickets in animals, predisposing them to bone weakness, fractures and in laying hens it causes a decrease in laying.
Phosphorus is a macromineral commonly associated with calcium since they are found together in bone structures. In addition, phosphorus is involved in many metabolic processes in animals.
Phosphorus deficiency is associated with bone problems, decreased growth and appetite, and reduced productive performance.
Potassium is the third most important macromineral in animals and is the most abundant cation (positively charged ion) at the intracellular level. It has important functions at the cellular level related to energy generation.
Potassium deficiency is associated with muscle problems such as weakness or tetany, as well as changes in feed intake habits (pica).
Magnesium is a macromineral closely related to calcium and phosphorus. For this reason, about 70% of magnesium is in bone structures and the rest in soft tissues. Magnesium plays an important role in energy generation.
Magnesium deficiency can cause acute neuromuscular problems, characterized by incoordination or convulsions.
Sulfur is a macromineral whose importance lies on the formation of amino acids and some vitamins. Proteins are indispensable molecules for life made up of amino acids and are the beginning of animal production. In pigs, broilers, and meat ruminants, protein is the basis for muscle formation; in hens, it is fundamental for egg formation.
Sulfur deficiency in the diet leads to disturbances in protein formation. Therefore, production performance is significantly affected in cases of deficiency.