Your cat’s diet and nutritional needs will vary depending on age, breed and activity level. Cats are obligate carnivores and require nutrients found in animal proteins in their diets. It’s vitally important to feed your cat a balanced and complete diet which is specific to their needs, to ensure a healthy and happy life.
You should try to stick to one type of diet for your cat to avoid digestive issues and complications. Even if you have a ‘fussy’ pet, it really is better to stick to a single type of food that your pet can easily digest, and that does not cause digestive issues.
On the food packaging, you may want to look for:
- The phrases ‘complete and balanced’ and ‘clinically proven’ to indicate the food company’s quality assurance standards.
- An indication that the food meets FEDIAF or local authority standards.
- Mention of the country of manufacture, as well and contact details for enquiries and complaints.
- Mention of the minimum legal requirements.
- Indication that the food has been involved in feeding trials.
- The protein source – this may come from by-products such as dairy as well as traditional protein sources.
If you are looking to change your pet’s diet, we recommend that you do this gradually over the course of a week to ten days to avoid any upset tummy’s. Some pet’s may take a little longer to adjust to a new diet.
Types of diet:
Dry food – There is a wide range of complete dry cat foods on offer but we generally recommend that you buy the best quality food that you can afford. Dry foods are generally considered ‘better’ for cats as they do not stick to the teeth or cause dental issues like wet food does.
Wet or tinned – Again we recommend that you choose the highest quality diet that you can afford. The downside of wet food is that it often sticks to cats teeth, causing bad breath and a build-up of plaque and tartar.
Cats are obligate carnivores and require essential proteins and nutrients that derive specifically from meat sources. For this reason, vegetarian and vegan diets are unsuitable for cats.
You should always try to find a complete diet that does not require additional or supplementary food to be added. A ‘complementary diet’ does not contain all of the nutrients that your pets require, and should be replaced with a more suitable diet. If you are struggling to choose the most suitable diet for your cat, we suggest that you have a chat to your vet, who will be able to make more specific recommendations based on your pets breed, age and lifestyle.
Prescription diets have been designed to help support pets with specific long and short-term conditions. In some cases, these diets have proven to be highly beneficial. These diets should be recommended by a vet, who will talk you through how the diet will work for your pet, and will monitor ongoing progress and benefits with you.
When you first collect your kitten, the breeder will advise you of their current diet, and give tips on moving forward. Kittens grow at a rapid rate and require a tailored diet to aid healthy growth and development. You might be tempted to give them dairy milk early on, however many cats struggle to process milk, which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Instead, consider alternative, kitten-specific milks available which may be given as a treat, in addition to their regular diet.
We recommend that you feed your kitten 4 meals per day from 12 weeks to 6 months of age. This may seem like a lot, but remember your kitten is rapidly developing. After 6 months, the number of meals should very gradually be reduced down to 1-2 meals per day.
If you are unsure when your kitten should transition to an adult diet, phone to consult a vet nurse.
For Adult Cats
Most cats will transition to an adult diet around a year old – depending on their weight and breed. Cats usually remain on adult diets from the ages of one to seven, unless otherwise advised by a vet. Dietary needs may also vary for your cat depending on their exercise levels or any underlying or ongoing health issues. Pregnant or nursing cats should always be fed a specific diet suitable for their condition.
Feeding your cat a suitable adult diet can help them to maintain a healthy weight and clean teeth. It may also help prevent or reduce the risk of certain conditions developing later on in your cat’s life.
For Senior Cats
Senior cats are more susceptible to illness, developing age-related conditions and serious weight changes. It is important to keep an eye on your older cat as changes often come on so gradually that they are difficult to notice.
As cats are living longer – many reaching the late teens and twenties! – the senior diets have been split into two categories: diets for 7+ and diets for 11+. This is often clearly marked on the food packaging.
Senior diets typically contain fewer calories and work to support joints, organs and lower immune systems. Many of these diets also target specific age-related conditions. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that when considering a senior diet, you consult a member of our team first.
In 2020, our Head Nurse Nicola developed our Senior Clinics. These clinics work to help detect the early signs of age-related conditions so that we can then begin care and management of symptoms sooner. For more information, check out our Senior Clinics page, or give the practice a call on 0141 339 1228.