Feeding Your Cat to Ensure a Healthy Life

According to a study carried out by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, vets claim that 47% of UK cats are obese. When you consider that feline obesity can increase the risk of diabetes, osteoarthritis and other medical issues, this number is worrying.

If you have a cat, you want them to live a long and healthy life. However, being overweight can cause a reduction in quality of life, as well as health problems. With some professionals in the industry pointing part of the blame for the level of feline obesity toward how often cats are fed, perhaps there’s something we can do to make sure our cats maintain a healthy weight — if we have the right information on feeding.

Here, you can find out how often you should feed your cat to ensure they maintain a healthy weight:

How do I know that my cat is overweight?

According to International Cat Care, a cat is classified as overweight if it is between 10% and 15% heavier than its ideal weight for its age, size and breed. The organisation’s Body & Muscle Condition Score guide offers an easy way to determine if your cat is a healthy weight, indicating that factors including a visible spine and noticeable fat over the ribs are both signs of an underweight or overweight cat, respectively.

Ideally, you should be able to feel your cat’s hip, spinal and rib bones, as well as define its waist and see a small amount of belly fat. Here are more signs that your cat could be overweight:

• Loss of a palpable waist.
• Collar requires loosening.
• Trouble walking.
• Irritability.
• Shortness of breath.
• Excessive sleeping.

If in doubt, book an appointment at your vets and ask them to weigh and assess your cat.

What should I feed my cat?

Approximately 390 people in the UK use the search term ‘obese cats’ a month, while 210 search for ‘how often to feed a cat’. Evidently, there’s a concern among many pet owners regarding the weight of cats.

Cats are carnivores and need a good source of protein — from meat or fish — in their diets to remain healthy. However, felines also need a serving of vegetables, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and taurine (an amino acid essential to a good heart, eye and immune system health) per day to get the nutrients they need. So, what do you feed your cat?

Some felines prefer the texture and smell of wet cat food, and if your feeding issue is with portion sizes, buying single cat food pouches that are measured to offer the optimum amount may be the solution! Alternatively, you can go for dry cat food, which can also help to keep your cats’ teeth healthy. However, we’d recommend you use a pet food scoop to ensure you don’t accidentally give your pet too much when you’re pouring out the mixture into their bowl.

When your browsing for the best cat food to keep your pet’s weight healthy, keep an eye out for food that features very little carbohydrates, low fat content (although some animal fat is essential) and plenty of protein. Also, avoid giving your cat milk, if you want to save calories. There are a lot of calories in a small saucer of milk for a cat, which can lead to rapid weight gain. Instead, opt for a healthy cat treat if you think they’re peckish — but not too many. According to research by Pets WebMD, cats shouldn’t get more than 10% of their daily calorie intake from treats.

How often should I feed my cat?

If you have a kitten, they’ll require more food per pound of their weight than adult cats to encourage optimum growth. According to experts, kittens up to six months should receive three meals per day, while cats older than six months should eat a meal twice a day. However, after your cat reaches one year, feeding them once a day is fine, as long as they have no medical issues that requires them to be fed more often. If your cat prefers it, share their daily food allowance out over the day by giving them a small portion for breakfast and then another later in the day.

There’s no rule on what time of the day is best to feed your cat — just go with whatever suits you. If mornings are hectic, put their food out in the evening or vice versa. As long as your cat has a feeding routine, they’ll be fine — we recommend you always feed your cat in the same, quiet place every day where they won’t be disturbed.

If you’re looking for tips on lowering how much or quickly your cat eats, opt for a flat bowl or saucer. This shape slows down fast eaters, which will aid digestion and fend off your cat’s hunger pangs for longer. We have a selection of bowls in our cat feeding accessories range.

Some pet owners adopt ‘free-feeding’ when it comes to their cats. ‘Free feeding’ is when an owner leaves out a bowl of dry food throughout the day for their cats to graze. Some cats can exercise self-control when living by this feeding method, but others will eat it all in one sitting. If this sounds like your cat, it’s perhaps time to switch to only making a nutritious bowl of food available at set mealtimes.

Think the problem may lie in your cat’s level of exercise? If you have a lazy cat, help them get active with a few activities. Try encouraging your cat to follow you up and downstairs a few times, buy them new cat toys or an activity centre to inspire play, or use a torch to catch their attention and make them chase the light.

Keeping your cat’s weight at its optimum level is key to their health, so consider making small changes to what they eat and how much exercise they get now to help — just make sure you check with their vet before altering their diet.

Check out our range of cat products at Feedem for more items to help your cat live a long and healthy life!

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