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Feeding cats: the right food and diet

A cat's diet should be nutritious, balanced, and rich in microelements and vitamins. Properly feeding your pet involves two aspects: choosing the diet and portion control. Ideally, your cat should be satiated but not overfed. In practice, this can be trickier than it seems because it can be challenging for owners to gauge whether their cat is getting the right portions and absorbing the necessary micronutrients.

How to Achieve a Balanced Diet for Your Cat?

Feeding your pets becomes much easier when your cat consumes specially-tailored food suitable for its age and nutritional needs. These foods already contain all the essential nutrients and microelements required for healthy development. Cats feel satiated and are less likely to overeat when fed such specialized diets. However, if your cat is on a regular diet, the responsibility for choosing its meals falls on you. In this case, you need to ensure that your cat gets adequate meat, fish, slow-release carbohydrates (e.g., grains), and various vegetables to receive the necessary vitamins.

To determine if the diet is balanced and sufficient for your cat, it's a good practice to consult a veterinarian and have blood tests done occasionally. This lets you pinpoint any necessary adjustments and optimize your cat's diet.

Overfeeding is generally less dangerous than regular underfeeding and starving your pet. Consistent underfeeding poses risks to the cat's digestive system. Excessive leanness, a poor appetite, or complete food refusal should prompt an immediate visit to the veterinarian.

Is Excess Weight Dangerous for Cats?

You might be surprised, but over one-third of domestic cats that don't have free outdoor access are overweight or obese. Some pet owners may even delight in their pet's "plump" appearance, even though their cat struggles to move around the house and faces hurdles with great effort. However, labeling such a cat as happy and completely healthy is challenging. This condition complicates a cat's life and alters its hormonal balance, increases stress on joints and the heart, and can lead to numerous health issues and reduced lifespan.

What to Do?

In this case, a sudden transition to smaller portions and a strict diet is not allowed. Fasting (systematic underfeeding) for two days can lead to hepatic lipidosis with fatal consequences. Therefore, when you notice the problem and decide to act, the changes should be gradual, rational, and progressive.

  1. Consult a veterinarian and choose the optimal dietary plan together, selecting the appropriate food for the situation.
  2. Feed your cat according to the schedule and recommended portions provided by the veterinarian. There's no one-size-fits-all advice on how to do this correctly since the diet depends on the breed, medical history, weight, current health status, and other factors.
  3. Gradually introduce manageable physical activity into your cat's life. Home pets usually have less space to move around, so they are less active than those with access to the outdoors. Using floating cat wall furniture, including wall shelves, stairs, and lounging perches, can be a good solution for apartment living. Wall-mounted furniture allows pets to exercise regularly and stay in excellent physical shape.

How to Determine if Your Cat is Overweight?

You can determine this yourself only visually, and usually, it's when excess weight becomes a problem. Veterinarians assess a pet's compliance with norms by considering various factors and relying on a body condition score scale. Expert evaluation is the most objective.

In a healthy state, a cat should have a small fat layer over its ribs, but the ribs should still be easily felt, and the abdomen shouldn't sag. In the case of short-haired breeds, the cat should have a noticeable “waist.” If these criteria are met, your pet has a healthy weight, and you have nothing to worry about.

Remember that not only overeating can cause feline obesity but also factors such as genetics, hormonal or chronic diseases, poor metabolism, and the absence or minimal level of physical activity.

Rules for Caring for Overweight Cats

To ensure your cat has strong muscles and a healthy body, it's important to follow the recommended portion sizes indicated on the food packaging, consult with a veterinarian regularly, and provide your pet with various forms of exercise. This can include short walks (cats can and should be taken for walks outdoors), exercises with indoor wall-mounted workout complexes, and the use of toys.

Rules for Feeding Overweight Cats

  • Choose the optimal food that meets your cat's needs.
  • Don't reduce the calorie content of the diet or portion sizes too quickly; follow the principle of gradual changes.
  • Ensure that the diet is protein and fiber-rich.

With this approach, your cat will return to a healthy shape over several months without unnecessary stress. You should maintain a healthy diet afterward, especially for sterilized animals, which typically have a lower baseline physical activity level and, therefore, require more attention and special care.