Cats are beautiful and graceful animals that have become favorite domesticated pets over the years. Thus, from kitten to cat, these innocent beings rely on their owners for optimum nutrition. But navigating the journey of feline nutrition is all about carefully analyzing your kitty’s nutritional requirements, allergy statuses, health, and feeding mechanisms and offering a balanced diet at every growth stage. So, this article is about understanding feline nutrition in greater detail for every cat owner.
An Overview of Cat Nutrition
Cats have a different feeding mechanism and nutrient requirements than we usually understand. Domesticated cats enjoy several small meals throughout the day instead of assigned meals with large portions. They need dry foods in smaller quantities along with moist parts that they usually gobble up in larger amounts.
Cats are usually picky eaters. Hence, sensory stimuli like an intense fragrance or colorful utensil appeal to them. Offer them food with a strong smell and let them eat from attractive bowls. For instance, you can buy the TODDLT Water Fountain & Cat Bowl to keep your cat engaged while eating and interested throughout. It will help them finish their meals on time and stay hydrated.
Nutritional Requirements for Kittens and Adult Cats
The specific nutrient requirements of cats change as they grow older. So, here are the protein and fat requirements along with the wet & dry ratio in tabular form.
|Wet/ Dry Ratio
|Kitten (0-6 months)
|80% wet/ 20% dry
|Adult (7 months – 7 years)
|60% wet/ 40% dry
|Senior (8+ years)
|70% wet/ 30% dry
Exploring Each Stage of Cat’s Growth
Each stage of a cat’s life symbolizes different requirements in nutrition. A kitten cannot be fulfilled with an adult meal, and vice versa. Here is how each cat’s nutrition requirements change with age and what you should remember.
Stage 1: Kittenhood
In the real sense, the mechanisms of a kitten are very similar to those of human infants. They grow into adult cats and need nutrients like proteins to sustain this growth. Fatty acids and vitamins also play a crucial role in their diets. They are essential for developing a kitten’s muscles, bones, and a robust immune system.
However, consult the vet to know the correct portion size and food type you should offer your kitten according to its weight. If you prefer to give your kitty homemade food, include pure and raw meat (that is not chemically treated) as the main ingredient and steamed veggies like carrots, green beans, pumpkin, lettuce, and spinach on the side.
When buying kitten food, get “balanced” and “complete” food mixes that fulfill your kitten’s daily nutritional requirements. Always ensure the cat food you get suits a kitten’s small stomach. It helps them stay full without getting overfed, and their daily needs are also met. Make sure to give frequent small meals throughout the day to keep up with their metabolism.
Stage 2: Transitioning Period
When your kitten is approaching the age of about a year, it is swiftly transitioning into an adult cat. They may be now less interested in play or may not be as active as before. To help them reach adulthood seamlessly, mix small amounts of adult cat food into their kitten food.
Use smaller amounts of fresh raw or lightly cooked meats, eggs, and steamed veggies for homemade food. It helps them get accustomed to the new food slowly without getting an upset stomach. However, keep measuring your cat’s changing weight and health to adjust their portions accordingly.
Stage 3: Adulthood
Adult cats have entirely different requirements than their kitten counterparts. They require a balanced diet, with no specific favor towards any nutrient unless they are sick or have a deficiency.
Buy only certified and safe adult cat food with ingredients you know your cat will eat. Meat-based cat food should always be the top priority. Avoid corn and soy as fillers.
If you do not want to feed your cat readymade commercial food, ensure you are sourcing raw meat and eggs from fresh sources that are not chemically treated. Adult cats require the best quality meats to sustain their health. However, even when the food is homemade, avoid corn, soy, and other hard-to-digest side foods. Instead, make a list of healthier veggies that you can serve steamed on the side.
Stage 4: Seniority
Just as humans have different nutritional requirements as they advance in age, cats also need different types of nutrients upon attaining seniority. Since their bodies have come a long way and changed a lot, their diets may become more specific to their personal needs, like supporting their joint health, maintaining a good weight, or complying with other conditions.
A diverse range of readymade foods is available that cater to senior cats. They may comprise special ingredients that are easy to digest with lower calories or less fat. Consult a vet for a tailored diet if your cat has kidney-related issues, diabetes, or other medical issues. The vet will list prescribed and healthier food options to maintain your cat’s underlying medical condition. Include only these foods into their diets and make sufficient meals for their appetite.
Feline Nutrition Mistakes to Avoid
While you may do your best to feed your cat, you must remember some common nutrition mistakes that must be avoided at all costs. Here are some to remember-
- Overfeeding and Obesity
Overfeeding your cat can have severe consequences for its health in the long run. Follow portion sizes as prescribed by vets, and do not give in to your cat’s greed for excessive food.
- Underfeeding and Malnutrition
Underfeeding is also a mistake many people make. In this case, your cat can turn out severely malnourished, with no energy and will to do anything. Make sure to include a healthy amount of calories in the diet.
- Excessive Treats
Treats are fine in moderation but should not replace regular meals. When you give too much of them to cats, they develop an unhealthy addiction where they actively resist other food and only want treats. Choose healthy, low-calorie treats or use kibble as an occasional reward.
In the journey from kitten to cat, nutrition ensures a long and healthy life. Each stage of your cat’s life comes with its own nutritional needs, and as a responsible cat owner, you must provide the best diet. By understanding the abovementioned stages and following proper nutrition guidelines, you can ensure your feline companion thrives throughout their life, bringing you joy and companionship.