Healthy Body Weight = Healthy Cat
Everyone knows that excess body weight is not healthy nor is it attractive. And yet, modern lifestyles have created an epidemic of obesity in people and cats. The problem is not as simple as counting calories, but that is where we tend to begin. Adult cats have finished growing and don't expend a great deal of energy even if they hunt for a living. Take away patrolling a territory, fighting, sex, pregnancy, and lactation and you have a very energy efficient creature. Add some excess body fat and boredom - well you get the picture - no wonder we have so many fat cats!
Cat owners asked for convenient, low-cost, high-quality, food that cats would happily consume. Pet food companies complied. We love our cats and want to keep them safe so we keep them confined indoors. We are busy and we don't want our kitties to be hungry if we are gone all day - what could be better than a food that could be there whenever a kitty wants a snack. Well, now we know that free feeding dry food contributes to problems with feline urinary and gastrointestinal tract, and often leads to excessive weight gain.
The days of the bottomless bowl of dry kibble must end. The only way to know how much your cat is eating is to measure and meal feed. A free choice bowl of dry kibble is an invitation to excess calorie intake. Measured meal feeding is even more important when you have more than one cat.
All cats must get a significant proportion(>50%) of their calorie needs from a water rich low carb product - i.e. canned food. Food that resembles a cat's "natural" diet is easier to store in a can than in a bag. Water is one of the most important incredients with fat and protein next in line. Cats do not have a nutritional need for carbohydrates.
Choice of brand and specific type of food is based on many factors including budget and personal preferences. Both dry and canned food have advantages and disadvantages. I like to have both on the menu to keep all options open. Cats are creatures of habit and it can be difficult to convince an adult cat that change is good.
Interaction with your cat at meal times is one of the easiest ways that you can achieve knowlege, power, and status in your relationship. You can create routines that fit your family's schedule. You can reward behaviors that you want to encourage by using dry kibble as a treat or snack. You can elliminate competition and stress around the food bowl by ensuring that each cat gets his or her fair share of the diet that is right for each lifestage and health status. You can make small changes to stop a trend toward weight gain. And finally you will know right away if your cat does not feel well. This is especially important because sick cats don't complain they withdraw.
How Much Food is Enough?
Nutrient Composition of Whole Vetebrate Prey Each gram of whole mouse contains roughly 5 kcal of gross energy (measured as how much heat is produced when the mouse is burned) A mouse is composed of ~8% crude fat, ~18% crude protein, 4% mineral (ash), and ~70% water on an as fed basis. An ounce of canned food = 1 mouse. A cup of most dry food has the calories of about 11 mice, but the water of just a little over 1.5 mice.
The Average indoor adult cat needs to eat approximately 5 mice a day to maintain a healthy body weight. It is not easy to compare one diet to another. Digestibility i.e. how much of a given portion is actually of use to the cat varies considerably and is not indicated on the label. Water content is also highly variable so most labels provide gross energy, and crude values expressed as a % of dry matter. You can start with a ballpark amount of 3 ounces of canned and a 1/4 cup of dry divided into at least 2 meals every 24 hours. To know what is right for your unique individual cat you must know how much food is eaten and you must track the weight of your cat. The other place to get information about the quality of the food is the litterpan. Pay attention to what you scoop each day
Early intervention can keep little problems from turning into big problems!