Proper nutrition is vital to good health and maximizes the quality and length of life. Commercially available premium foods are convenient and their composition is regulated by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA). The label should clearly state that the food is nutritionally complete and balanced for the lifestyle and age of the cat, i.e.,’Growth’ for kittens, ‘Maintenance’ for adults, and ‘Senior’ for cat in their golden years. Feeding trial results to back up the manufacturer’s claims should also be available to you.
In general, all cats should eat at least two meals a day. Some cats prefer to ‘nibble’, eating several small meals throughout the day, which is physiologically healthier. Let your cat’s body weight and physical condition be your guide on what and how much to feed. Keep snacks to less than 5% of the total diet, and offer healthy treats like carrots, asparagus tips, a clam or a sardine.
TYPES OF FOOD
Most commercial diets contain substantial amounts of preservatives and artificial coloring, flavoring, and chemicals. The digestible nutritional quality of a food varies according to the method by which it is processed, either canned, semi-moist or dry. The water content also varies from approximately 75% in canned to [NOTE: 5.5 Ounce cans are ideal for daily feeding] approximately 10% in dry, with semi-moist falling in the mid-range. The high water content of canned food, 75%, is helpful to prevent Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease since most cats do not adjust their water intake to make up for the lack of water when they are on a dry food diet. . The basic rule is 1/3rd cup of dry food, or ¼ can, divided up into 2 or 3 meals daily.
* Homemade natural diets take more time and effort to prepare but in many cases are well worth it. The key is to balance the ingredients and find a recipe that keeps your cat happy and healthy. Variety is also important with cats so that they learn to accept different foods. Owners of finicky felines often encounter serious problems when a health situation requires a dietary change.