Last year I purchased two small orange capes with black bats all over them for my cats. When I got home I got the shock of my life when I tried to put them on my cats. I nearly lost a life…how I thought it was good is beyond me, hence I think I’ll pass this year!
I just love pets in fancy dress costumes, so I have picked some of my favorite cats in costumes to share with you. 🐱🎃
From Kittenhood to the Golden Years: What Your Cat Should Eat to Thrive
By Lisa Weeth
Cats can be cool and aloof, snuggly and sweet, playful and silly—and we love them for it. There are more than 74 million companion cats across the country, and they outnumber dogs by almost 5 million. Cats live an average of 13 years, with indoor cats often living well into their late teens. What and how you feed your cat during their young adulthood can help them feel and look good long into their senior years. Read on to find out what your cat should eat during every life stage for a healthy, happy life.
The Building Blocks of Cat Nutrition (and How it Differs From Dogs)
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a diet based primarily on animal protein. Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores, and can thrive on both high meat and vegetarian diets. For a food to be considered complete and balanced for a cat at any life stage they must have the right balance and ratio of the following:
- Amino acids (the building blocks of protein)
- Essential fatty acids (linoleic acid and arachidonic acid)
- Fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A and D)
- Water-soluble vitamins (such as thiamin, niacin and choline)
- Minerals (such as calcium, potassium and iron)
Current complete and balanced commercial cat foods are designed to provide all of these without the need for supplementation. That goes for dry, wet or semi-moist varieties.
While cats and dogs may eat some similar ingredients, their nutritional requirements vary greatly. Not only are protein requirements for cats 25–30% higher than dogs, but felines need many of the essential vitamins and minerals at higher amounts than their canine counterparts. While nibbling on the occasional piece of dog food shouldn’t harm your kitten or adult cat, a number of important nutritional differences mean cats have stricter dietary requirements than dogs. Those differences include:
- Cats cannot make enough taurine to support eye and heart function.
- They do not convert the beta-carotene found in plants into vitamin A and require vitamin A directly in the diet.
- They lack sweet receptors and digest complex carbohydrates slightly less efficiently than dogs.
- They are less efficient at digesting carbohydrates.
Nutrition for Every Life Stage
Just as nutrition requirements change for humans, kittens should eat differently than adult cats. We break down what your cat should eat at any age.
Kittens require more protein than adult cats. And because of their rapid growth rate, they need more calories and the right balance of vitamins and minerals to support normal skeleton, muscle and vital organ development. Diets designed for kittens are more energy- and nutrient-dense to allow kittens to eat multiple small meals each day. Your kitten’s energy requirement may decrease after being spayed or neutered, but this should only change the amount—not the type—of food. Choose a food designed for growth or all life stages until your kitten reaches their mature adult stage (typically after one year).
Cats come in all shapes and sizes—from an 8-pound adult Abyssinian to a 25-pound adult Maine Coon—and kitten weights can be just as variable over their first year depending on the breed. It is important to monitor kittens’ body condition as they grow. Talk to a veterinarian if you are concerned your kitten may be overweight for their body size.
Cats are creatures of dietary habit and can become finicky adults. Many eating habits develop before a kitten’s first birthday and are influenced by the food offered as well as the kitten’s mother. One of the most important feeding strategies is to vary food textures, smells, flavors and protein sources. This will help your kitten recognize different types of food as actual food and increase the chances for a more flexible palate into adulthood. Rather than make dramatic and abrupt diet changes (which can cause diarrhea), gradually offer a combination of dry and wet foods over the first year and provide a variety of different flavors, shapes and textures. Care should be taken though to vary no more than 10% of the diet each day to prevent any gastrointestinal upset or food refusal (which can occur if diet changes are too dramatic). For a safe and easy transition, allow seven to 10 days to complete a diet change. Older cats can develop medical conditions that require a diet change—for instance, a switch to canned foods for urinary problems. Future diet changes will be easier for both cat and cat parent if variety is introduced early on.
Protein and nutrient requirements don’t change very much when kittens reach adulthood. Adult cats still require at least 26% proteina source of taurine and pre-formed vitamin A and higher total vitamin and mineral intakes compared to dogs. Any commercial dry, wet, semi-moist, freeze-dried, frozen or fresh-pasteurized adult cat food should be labeled for “growth and maintenance,” “all life stages” or “adult maintenance.” There are also some specialty, over-the-counter formulas available for cats with special needs that do not require a veterinarian’s oversight, such as hairball control, indoor, weight management, oral health and sensitive stomach.
Obesity is one of the most common diseases that affects adult cats across the U.S., yet one of the few that caregivers can help prevent. Obese cats have a higher risk for other chronic diseases including diabetes, urinary tract disease and breathing problems. While dry foods are a convenient and economical way to feed cats, especially in a multi-cat household, they are also more energy dense than wet varieties. Two to three well-portioned meals each day help keep feline friends trim and healthy. Consult a veterinarian when helping your cat lose weight the slow and steady way (rapid weight loss can be dangerous).
Pregnancy and Lactation
Pregnant and lactating cats have higher energy, protein and other essential nutrient needs compared to non-reproductive or neutered cats. Foods designed for all life stages meet all of the nutritional needs of a pregnant or lactating cat. As a bonus, the same diet can be offered to the kittens once they begin to wean. Additional supplements are not usually necessary during pregnancy or lactation if the cat eats a complete and balanced commercial kitten or all-life-stages food, but it’s a good idea to discuss diet and potential supplementation with your veterinarian during prenatal exams.
There is no set age at which your cat becomes a senior (though it’s typically between seven and 11 years of age). And the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) does not provide any formal guidelines to formulate pet food for cats in their golden years. Older cats can become arthritic and less active, which can lead to weight gain if food amounts are not regulated at home. Some pet food companies formulate their senior diets with additional sources of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help support joint health as well as fewer calories per cup to prevent weight gain in less active cats.
As animals age, their ability to digest food (especially protein) can decrease, causing a gradual loss of muscle mass and body weight without any other change to the diet itself or the amount of food eaten. For that reason, some senior-specific formulas have higher protein and energy content than an average adult maintenance food. Senior cats also have an increased risk of developing age-related kidney disease, which is why some senior cat foods are lower in protein and phosphorus than their adult maintenance counterparts.
Cats older than seven should be seen regularly by a veterinarian for wellness examinations and potential senior screening tests. This helps identify any health issues and indicate which senior diet strategy is best.
How Often to Feed
Domestic cats in the wild eat multiple small meals a day, but the same principle may not be very effective for a pet cat. Leaving food out all day may lead to obesity and associated complications including diabetes, urinary tract disease or arthritis. Most cats can be trained to eat two to three meals each day with occasional small treats between meals. To prevent unbalancing the primary diet, treats should comprise 10 percent or less of a cat’s daily food intake. If treating often, consider decreasing the amount of food offered for main meals to prevent unintended weight gain.
How Much to Feed
Both adult cats and kittens should be fed to maintain an ideal body weight. You should easily be able to feel a healthy cat’s ribs (by gently touching his side) and his waist should slightly narrow in just before the hips. Since commercial dry foods are available in a range of energy densities, from 300–500 kcal per cup, take note of how many calories are in one cup of your selected food and feed the amount your cat or kitten needs, rather than always feeding the same volume. For example, an active 12-pound cat may need one full cup of a 300 kcal per cup food, but only 3/4 of a cup if the food provides 400 kcal in one cup. Pet foods are now required to list calorie content on the label, which makes it easier for pet parents to practice portion control. Feeding guidelines are calculated for the average kitten or cat, but individuals can vary up to 50 percent above or below these numbers. This is a starting point and may need to be adjusted for your cat to maintain an ideal body condition.
When it comes to selecting kitten and cat food, the choices may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, a few key points can narrow down the selection process and help keep your cat looking and feeling great for years to come. Always feed a complete and balanced diet so your cat gets all the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy. Remember to feed your cat to maintain an idea body condition and adjust as needed and offer different textures, shapes, flavors and forms of food to keep your cat open to variety (at least during the formative first year). As your cat ages so do nutritional needs.
The feeding recommendations and suggestions here are for educational purposes only and are not intended as a replacement for veterinary care or advice. Always contact your veterinarian or veterinary healthcare team if you have any questions about feeding your cat or kitten.
You can find the original article here….. Community.Petco.com
References and Resources
- AVMA U.S. Pet Ownership Survey 2012 www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx
- (2014) Official Publication. Atlanta, GA: Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc.
- National Research Council. (2006) Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
- Fascetti and Delaney. (2012) Applied Veterinary Clincial Nutrition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, John Wiley & Sons.
- Teshima E, et al. Nutrient digestibility, but not mineral absorption, is age-dependent in cats. JAPAN (Berl) 2010;94:e251-258.
- Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2013; 4: 188. Published online 2013 Dec 3. doi: 3389/fendo.2013.00188 PMCID: PMC3847661 Normal Glucose Metabolism in Carnivores Overlaps with Diabetes Pathology in Non-Carnivores. Thomas Schermerhorn