What type of food and how much should I feed my cat?
Original Question: I'm reading conflicting info on what to feed a cat. Our last cat (who died at 18 years and was also an Ocicat) was fed mostly dry food on the advice of a vet. We fed her according to her weight, twice per day, and she was in terrific health and an ideal weight for most of her life (she lost weight in her last couple of years). What and how much should I feed her? Wet? Dry? Raw? Mixture? We just got her from the breeder on the weekend and are feeding her quite freely as she acclimatizes to our home. Once she has, I want to get the feeding protocol right so that we keep her healthy and happy. - Leslie
Thanks for your question.
Let’s start with the fact that feeding and food with regards to cats and dogs can be a really controversial subject. As far as what amount we need to feed, obesity is a huge epidemic as so many cats and dogs are obese and they are getting diseases as a result of being overweight so in short, feed her as much as she needs and no more. We need to base that on monitoring weight trends and body condition scoring so that’s something that the veterinary team, the vet tech’s and vet nurses can go through. They are fantastic at helping to monitor and maintain a pet’s weight and very often clinics are running weight clinics as well. Ask your vet what your cat’s ideal weight is when they’re next in for their next check-up as that is something that really needs to be discussed in any wellness consultation. We want to be evaluating weight and checking that our pets are at a healthy weight because it’s very easy for a little bit of a creep to take place over a number of years and before you know it you’ve got a cat who’s overweight or even morbidly obese.
You can also obviously monitor your cat’s weight at home and that would be done on something like a bathroom or kitchen scale. When it comes to feeding it’s important to keep in mind that we need to be give the amount that specific cat needs and that’s going to vary from cat to cat. I often find that if you’re feeding a commercial food, pet food manufacturers will slightly overestimate the amount of feed that your pet needs unless your cat or your dog is very active. Therefore we need to feed the appropriate amount appropriate for the individual lifestyle and the individual genetics as well.
Feeding a cat dry food is again something that people get very passionate about because of claims that it leads to certain conditions such as kidney disease but really there’s no evidence for that. If a cat does have kidney disease, then wet food is going to be generally preferred if at all possible, but that in itself doesn’t mean that dry food causes these problems in otherwise healthy cats. One thing to bear in mind if you are feeding dry food is that cats can become a kibble junkie, so they’ll only ever then eat dry food if that’s all they’re ever used to. Therefore if you are choosing to feed a dry commercial kibble, it’s a good idea to also feed some wet food so they get used to different textures, consistencies and flavours that will help your cat from becoming a dry food addict.
Feeding a wet food is never going to be the wrong thing to do as it encourages water intake, which is something cats aren’t very good at. A normal healthy cat is able to compensate for low water intake because in the wild and the desert where they originate, they don’t generally get a lot of water and are used to drawing a lot of it out of their food. If we’re giving them a wet food, they’re definitely going to have enough water so that is something that we don’t need to worry about that and then if they develop a condition such as kidney disease or diabetes later on that would require a higher water intake they will then be used to and accepting of wet food.
I hope this advice was helpful and as always please consult your veterinarian about coming up with a diet and feeding protocol for your cat.
Dr. Alex Avery
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