If you own a cat, you know they can be fickle creatures at the best of times, especially when it comes to their eating habits. While it can be confusing knowing what to feed your cat, eating habits are a great way to understand whether your cat is healthy and happy.
We sat down with Purina ambassador Dr. Jo Righetti, to get a better understanding of how we should be caring for our feline fur babies.
1. The wet food vs dry food debate.
Dr. Jo advises me that for your cat; there’s actually no right answer to settle this age old question. Instead, it’s more of a question of your cat’s preferences. But there are differences between dry food and wet food that you may not know about. Dry food, and in particular high-quality dry food is more concentrated with nutrients, so it’s going to have more of the good stuff that your cat needs to keep them happy and healthy.
Keep in mind that if your cat prefers dry food, make sure to provide plenty of fresh water.
"High-quality dry food is more concentrated with nutrients." Image: iStock.
2. Right food or wrong food?
There’s no denying that when it comes to buying cat food, there are a dizzying number of choices. But is there a way to tell if your cat is eating the wrong type of food, or doesn’t like the food that you give them?
Dr. Jo says to look to the physical signs first. If your cat is showing signs of lethargy, a dull coat, warm nose or sudden weight gain or loss this could indicate that your cat may be eating the wrong food.
3. Finding your cat isn’t eating?
If your cat is refusing to eat the food that you buy, it may have more to do with your cat than the food. Cats, like humans, have many different personalities. Some cats are fussy, and are set in their ways, while others live much more by the notion that variety is the spice of life.
You're feeding us what? Image: iStock.
4. Food for the ages.
Depending on their age, it’s also important to realise that your cat will need to be fed different things at every life stage. Kittens need to be fed a specific nutrient rich diet which is packed full of protein to support growth.
On the other end of the scale, cats who are in their senior years (older than 7 or 8 years of age) need to be fed a diet of reduced calories as they’re not as active as they used to be.
5. What not to feed cats.
It’s time to dispel a wide spread myth about cats. They should not be fed milk. Yes, you read that correctly; cats and milk do not mix. Dr. Jo stresses that feeding cats milk is potentially dangerous for our feline friends. Second on the list, Dr. Jo tells me, is onions. Cats don’t have the proper enzymes to digest either of these things so they should never be fed to your cat.
"Cats and milk do not mix." Image: iStock.
6. Is your cat starting to resemble Garfield?
If you start to notice that your cat is looking a bit plumper than usual, Dr. Jo suggests that your first course of action should be a checkup with your vet. Sudden weight gain could be attributed to a physiological condition e.g. a thyroid problem. If your vet finds nothing wrong, it is probably an indication that your cat has been indulging a little too much.
To get your cat back into a healthy weight range, try hiding their food around the home, using toys that hide food inside, or feeding them a weight management diet.
7. Feeding times for your cat.
Cats are natural grazers, meaning they will come and go as they please when it comes to food. If we lived in a cat’s perfect world where we didn’t have to go to work, and have social lives, we would be at home feeding them every two hours. Dr. Jo assured me that there are ways around this including automated feeding machines and hiding food around the house while you are out.
Although it’s important to keep in mind not to overfeed, and to keep within their dietary guidelines.
What feeding habits have you noticed in your cat?
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