The way you feed your cat may be causing their weight issue as well as impacting their mental and physical health. Just as with people feline obesity is often linked with overeating and underexercising. Cutting back on calories isn’t an easy answer, its an exercised centred approach that is frequently met with the greatest success. Easier said than done? How do you get a cat to exercise?
A question of how to feed NOT what to feed
Copious research into the nutrition needs of cats has resulted in quality diets for all ages and development stages. However, until now there has been little learnt on meeting cats natural feeding behaviours. Meeting these needs is vital to managing the feeding process and to improve both quality of life and ability to cope with the lifestyle demands we choose for our feline friends.
Never fear, strategies are here! The American Association of Feline Practitioners are filling in the gap with their consensus statement, ‘Feline Feeding Programs: addressing behavioural needs to improve feline health and wellbeing’. This very welcome resource explores behavioural and physical problems resulting from current feeding programs and better still details how you should be feeding your cat.
What is normal?
Cats are of course meat eaters with a super-predatory sense. Given choice, they will hunt and eat solo.
More and more cats are living a life entirely within the confines of the house, the indoor cat movement. While this saves the wildlife and vet bills from cat fights it has a cost associated with it for your cat. A solely indoor lifestyle prevents hunting, reducing a cat’s important daily tasks to nil. Chronic unemployment…….how does that make you feel?
What’s the issue?
The problem with food bowl feeding:
- Shared feeding stations in a multi-cat household does not allow for normal solo hunting/eating;
- Cat food is highly tasty and easy to eat leading to weight gain;
- Eating can be something to do when bored even in outdoor cats;
- If the feeding station is in a high traffic area or there is a toddler or other household pet nearby, a cat may inhale the food (and overeat) in order to quickly retreat to safety. Some cats may undereat for the same reason or vomit after gorging.
For feeding-solutions don’t miss out on ‘How to feed a cat part 2 – solutions‘
For Further Reading:
- Tammy Sadek, Beth Hamper, Debra Horwitz, Ilona Rodan, Elizabeth Rowe, Eliza Sundahl. Feline Feeding Programs: Addressing behavioral needs to improve feline health and wellbeing. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 2018; 20 (11): 1049 DOI: 10.1177/1098612X18791877