If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to share your home with cats, you’ll know all too well each and every one of them has unique characteristics. This sense of individuality doesn’t just apply to their personality, however. When you’re deciding on how much to feed your cat, you need to take into consideration all of your cat’s particular circumstances to make sure they’re getting the nutrition and sustenance that’s right for them.
What factors do I need to think about?
Most cat food packets will have a rough guide on the back with recommended ranges for cats of different weights, but you can tailor this for your cat based on several factors.
How old is your cat? Kittens need a lot of calories as they’re growing so much and using a lot of energy, but as they only have small stomachs, they have to be fed regularly — perhaps up to three meals a day.
Their metabolism tends to slow down after they’ve been neutered at around six months old, meaning their food bowl doesn’t need to be as topped up as before. As your cat matures, they’ll need a steady and regular amount of food until they reach their senior years and stop exercising as much — a smaller amount will suffice at this stage.
Another thing to think about is your cat’s lifestyle. Are they an indoors breed who spends most of their time snoozing on the sofa, or are they an outdoors variety who passes most of their waking hours roaming about the neighborhood? Although they might disagree with this, less active cats should get the lower end of the recommended allowance.
Type of food
Almost as important as the exact amount you should be feeding your cat is what it is you’re putting in front of them. There’s a huge range of foods designed for different types of cats’ nutritional needs and dietary requirements — everything from formulas to help with furball reduction to low-calorie mixes for cats carrying a little extra timber.
It doesn’t matter too much whether your cat’s food is wet or dry (link to wet and dry cat food article) — although wet food can be a useful source of hydration for cats who don’t tend to drink much water — but you should ensure whatever you choose has all a cat’s vital nutrients in one single source.
Be mindful of the number of treats you give your cat, too. There’s little point in fine-tuning the amount of food they get in their bowl if you’re overgenerous with the calorific treats during playtime. If your cat’s venturing outside regularly, you don’t know what else they’re topping up their meals with on their excursions — you might be surprised!
How should I monitor my cat’s weight?
There’s certainly a bit of trial and error involved with settling on the right amount of food for your cat and it can sometimes be difficult to know if you’ve got it right or not — you might have a greedy cat still meowing for more after they’ve polished off their dinner, while other cats might be content to casually graze at their biscuits throughout the day and even leave some spare.
One of the key indicators to monitor is your cat’s weight, which you can judge either by eye or using a pair of scales. If you’re concerned your cat’s losing too much weight or is looking a little on the chubby side, you can get some advice from your vet who’ll be able to offer some pointers. It’s also sensible to get a professional perspective as in certain instances, fluctuating weight or appetites in a cat can be a symptom of other illnesses.
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