The feeding and nutrition of kittens
Kittens bounce off walls, propel themselves through the air and pounce at warp speed toward anything that moves, especially toys.
The only time they seem to slow down is to wash their faces after a satisfying meal. And what could be more satisfying than a meal that supplies all the necessary nutrients.
YOUR KITTEN’S GROWTH
At birth, she weighs about three ounces (100 grams) and gains about 1/2 ounce (15 grams) each day. By 10 weeks of age, she’ll weigh more than two pounds (1 kilogram), a tenfold gain in 10 weeks. Although males and females grow similarly at first, males begin to outweigh females by 10 weeks of age. Males tend to increase in weight until about 11 months of age, about four to eight weeks longer than female kittens do. The growth for both sexes is rapid at first, through about six to seven months of age. Males continue at this pace until about nine months of age, leaving their sisters behind.
THE FEEDING REGIMEN
Right from birth, food is critical. On mom’s milk up to weaning at around ten weeks of age, your kitty will begin to eat solid food at about three to four weeks of age. At this time, with few teeth and a tender tummy, a soft meat-based (canned food) diet is more easily consumed.
WHEN WEANING ENDS
After weaning, a balanced complete diet provides all the nutrients – energy, protein, vitamins, minerals – in proper proportion and amount. Foods specially formulated for kittens are more nutrient-dense and provide for the increased demand of your kitten’s growth. Although your kitten requires the entire complement of nutrients, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, thiamine, essential fatty acids and taurine are especially important. For example, a diet that’s otherwise sufficient but deficient in one nutrient, such as zinc, can result in poor growth, dermatitis (skin lesions) and other deformities.
IT HAS TO TASTE GOOD
Your kitten should eat well as long as the food is tasty. Palatability is based on aroma, texture and taste. If your kitten is fed a variety of flavors, she’ll probably be a selective eater as an adult. As your kitten matures, a complete and balanced dry food may be fed in addition to canned food. It is a good idea to feed some canned food at least once a week to maintain the cats apppetite for canned food. It may become necessary to change to a canned diet due to problems that may arise in the future but the cat has to know how to eat canned food. Feeding should be consistent, not switching back and forth. Regular meals are encouraged as opposed to leaving the food out all the time.
BEWARE OF “ADULTS ONLY”
Specially formulated kitten foods are higher in protein and energy density. Dry kitten foods contain about 35 percent protein, have a higher fat content, about 12 to 24 percent, and are about 25 percent higher in calories than adult dry cat foods. If a food is labeled “100 percent complete and balanced for all life stages,” it’s NOT okay to feed to your kitten. Life stage nutrition is the best option.
Cats have unusual nutrient needs
WHAT CATS NEED TO EAT
Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential elements for good health.
The ideal diet for your cat includes a good quality food and plenty of fresh water. Your cat should be fed amounts sufficient to meet energy and caloric requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.
Dry cat foods have greater caloric density which means simply, there is less water in a 1/2 cup of dry food as compared to a canned food diet. Overall, the choice of “dry” vs. “canned” is an individual one, but most cats enjoy eating a combination of a dry food along with supplemental canned food.
Cats in the various life stages, including kitten (“growth”), adult and senior (“geriatric”), require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing kittens can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working cats need more calories, while the “couch potato” needs less (just like us).
Your cat doesn’t have the ability to convert the carotene found in plants to vitamin A. His source of vitamin A must come from liver, kidney and other organ meats. If a cat lacks vitamin A in his diet, poor growth, weight loss, damage to cell membranes and decreased resistance to disease are among the possible consequences. More importantly, female cats may fail to cycle, the embryo may fail to implant or the pregnant cat may abort or produce kittens with abnormalities, such as a cleft palate.
Your cat is unable to synthesize niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, due to an excess of a certain enzyme. Deficiencies include weight loss, loss of appetite, unkempt fur and wounds around the mouth.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Your cat requires sufficient arachidonic acid, a fatty acid found only in animal tissue. Therefore, he requires some animal fat in his diet. Dermatitis and poor reproductive performance are among the deficiency symptoms.
Your cat’s taurine requirement is quite high. Naturally he’d obtain taurine, an amino acid, from muscle meats. Fish and shellfish are also exceptionally good sources. Taurine deficiency can produce central retinal degeneration (CRD), a form of blindness.
In addition to these dietary peculiarities, your cat requires a high amount of protein in his diet, about 12 percent in comparison to 4 percent for adult dogs. Unlike you, your cat does very well on a high-fat diet. Fat gives him needed energy, assists the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such A and E, and adds taste. Fat also adds to his needed calories, a daily requirement of about 35 kilocalories per pound of body weight.
Feeding your cat - consider his age and weight
You should feed him at least two meals a day . Use the guide on the bag to determine how much food to feed but remember it is only a guide, most importantly look at your cat or ask your veterinarian. Leaving the food out all day long may be easier, but it usually leads to excessive weight gain. It gives you more control if you meal feed him.
As your cat ages, he may slow down and begin putting on extra weight. Monitor his weight — if he’s becoming too fat, consult your veterinarian.
Remember, water is also an important nutrient. He needs fresh clean water daily. Your cat drinks about twice the amount of water as he consumes in dry food, though since canned cat food in greater than 75 percent water, he barely drinks when his diet consists of canned cat food only.
CONSIDER YOUR CAT’S AGE
- For kittens (up to 8-9 months of age): Feed your kitten a consistent canned, and/or dry cat food designed for kittens. Avoid semi-moist foods(they come in pouches) as they contain a lot of sugar to have that consistency.
- For adult cats (1-7 years): Feed your cat a consistent canned and/or dry cat food designed for an “adult” cat.
- For senior cats (7+ years): Feed your cat a consistent canned, and/or dry cat food designed for a “senior” cat.
CONSIDER YOUR CAT’S BODY CONDITION
- Underweight cats: Feed your cat 10-15% times the “usual” amount of food and make an appointment to see your veterinarian about your cat’s body condition. Consider switching to a food with higher protein and fat content. Underweight cats are a rarity!
- Lean cats: Healthy cats may look thin, but really they are fit. We are used to seeing overweight cats, you should be able to feel the ribs. If you can pinch a second layer on the ribs, that layer is pure fat! Weigh your cat frequently if you have any doubts.
- Chubby cats: If your cat is a bit overweight (10-15%), try increasing the daily exercise routine. Gradually increase exercise over 2 weeks unless limited by a medical condition. Stop all treats and reduce daily intake of food by up to 10-20% percent.
- Fat or obese cats: Stop all treats. Increase exercise gradually over 2 to 3 weeks if not limited by a medical condition. Reduce the total daily food amount by 25%, switch to a low fat/high fiber diet, and call your veterinarian to discuss your plans. Inquire about prescription-type reduction diets that can really be effective while providing balanced nutrition.
- Your vet can help you make the right choice in all life stages and conditions of your cat.
Feeding your cat too much isn't really generous
Obesity is defined as the excessive accumulation of body fat.
Between 25 and 40 percent of pets are considered obese or are likely to become obese. It is the most common nutrition-related health condition in our society.
The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise. The majority of the problems arise from the free feeding of cats and boredom that leads to a greater appetite. Also in a multi cat household although the cats may seem to get along fine they are really not social creatures(except for lions), would prefer to be alone and will eat just so as not to leave anything else for the other cats.
When regular caloric intake exceeds the energy burned, the excess is stored as fat. As little as an extra 1 percent caloric intake can result in a 25 percent increase over ideal body weight by middle age.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT NOTES :
- Obesity is generally diagnosed by physical examination findings and a review of your pet’s weight and body condition score. To determine if there is an underlying disorder, bloodwork may be recommended.
- Treatment depends on your pet’s initial weight, body condition score, underlying disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian.
Daily caloric intake is lowered by changing the type or amount of food. Exercise should be slowly increased. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR :
- Large body size
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty walking
- Exercise intolerance
- Heat intolerance
How to brush your cat's teeth
Dental disease (especially gingivitis + periodontal disease) is the most common disease in our feline companions. It is also one of the most preventable and treatable disease.
We can reduce or even prevent dental disease by feeding diet especially formulated to clean teeth and daily tooth brushing. The following are steps to guide you on how to brush your cat’s teeth:
The first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth, such as with a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums or after your cat has had a professional dental cleaning.
You will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and veterinary toothpaste.
There are several important facts about our pets’ mouths that tell us when, where, and how to brush. Periodontal disease usually affects the upper, back teeth first and worst.
Plaque builds up on the tooth surface daily, especially just under the gum line. It takes less than 24 hours for this plaque to become mineralized and harden into “tartar” (calculus) that cannot be removed with a brush. Because of this progression, brushing should be done daily, with a brush to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
Even with the best tooth brushing, all cats may still need an occasional professional cleaning, just like humans but not as frequently.
By brushing your pet’s teeth daily and curtailing the amount of periodontal disease, you may reduce the frequency and involvement of dental cleanings and provide your pet with a healthier, sweeter smile.