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7 FAQs about feeding guidelines for your cat

1.     How accurate are the feeding guidelines on my cat food label?

The manufacturers recommended feeding guidelines are rarely accurate and should only be used as a rough starting point because determining a quantity to be fed based solely on the weight of your cat is an inaccurate way of feeding. Most guidelines vary considerably depending on the manufacturer and there is little consistency between brands. Your cat's age, health, reproductive status and exercise level will influence the amount of food your cat should receive and should be taken into account when deciding on the quantity to be fed. If in doubt always consult your veterinarian.

2.     How should I determine what to feed my cat?

Choose a high quality food as poor quality foods produce more waste, can cause digestive problems and are often more expensive (due to the increased quantities that will need to be fed to fulfil nutritional requirements). It is important to know your cat’s weight and the ideal weight for the specific breed. You can always consult with your veterinarian if you are not sure about an ideal weight for your cat. The next stage is to determine the cat’s activity level; remember to factor in all variables (exercise level, age etc) and any additional calorific intake such as treats. The starting amount of food can then be adjusted accordingly. After you have started feeding your cat an appropriate amount of food, weigh your cat at least once a month to determine if you are on the right track. If necessary, increase or decrease the amount of food slightly until the cat stays at his target weight.

3.     How can I stop my cat from rushing his food at meal times?

Cats that gulp their food down too quickly tend to take in large amounts of air whilst eating which can cause stomach and digestive system upset. This can be avoided by placing a large object such as a ping-pong ball in the bowl to encourage him to take smaller bites. If you have more than one cat, feed them separately to reduce competition for food.

4.     How should I go about introducing a different food to my cat’s diet?

Your cat will need to be introduced to the new food gradually as the number and type of bacteria in the intestines, which assist in digestion, can be changed by a change in diet and therefore the cat’s ability to digest the new food may be affected. The cat should be fed a mixture of the old and the new food and the amount of old food gradually decreased as the new food is decreased. For example begin with 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food and feed that for several days. Then make it 50-50 for several days, then 75% new food to 25% old food for several days. Then you can start feeding 100% new food. The process can take between seven and ten days and the rate should be decreased if the cat shows any signs of vomiting, has loose stools, or appears constipated.

5.     Is it ok to give cat’s healthy table scraps?

It is always best to feed your cat treats that are specifically developed for cats; however you can feed leftovers providing they do not comprise more than 10% of your cat’s diet. You should avoid feeding treats that are high in fat and sugar, instead feed vegetables and lean meat. Feeding table scraps can encourage your cat to become a nuisance during meal times and steal foods from the table or worktops. Some of these foods could be hazardous to his health, and from a human hygiene point of view anything that encourages your cat to get onto the dinner table or worktops is to be discouraged.

6.     Should I feed my specific breed of cat a specific food?

A cat’s nutritional requirement depends on many factors such as his activity level, age, and temperament. Therefore, it is important to choose a diet that fits his specific health and nutritional requirements as well as his breed. If in doubt ask your veterinarian for feeding advice.

7.     Does the amount to be fed in the feeding guidelines pertain to each meal or the daily amount?

It pertains to the total daily amount to be fed. If feeding multiple meals, divide the daily amount accordingly.