Feeding a cat from newborn kitten stage all the way to the senior years isn’t that complicated, but it does require periodic attention and definite changes. Cats have special diet requirements, some of which span their entire lives, while others are meant to help the cat out at specific stages of its life.
Meat Is a Diet Must
Overall, cats do need meat. They need the amino acid taurine in their diets, and meat is really the only way to get adequate amounts. If you try to feed the cat a vegan diet and the cat refuses the food and seems distressed about protein supplements, don’t force the cat to eat them. Get a meat-based cat food. It’s something you have to prepare yourself to do if you have a cat.
Nutrition at All Ages
Certain nutrition advice is meant to follow the cat throughout its life. The meat requirement is one. Cats and kittens also need fresh water in abundance. Place bowls of water throughout your house so that the cat is always near a source of drinkable water. Be cautious about feeding the cat too many treats or human food, and never give a kitten or cat dog food. All the food you feed your cat should have a label from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on it.
Cats need different levels of energy from their food at different stages and considering individual activity. Sedentary cats need less energy (smaller portions) and active cats need a lot more. Activity levels can change as the cat gets older, and they can also change seasonally. If you’ve recently moved to a new city that has different weather than your old city, talk to vets about local cat-feeding requirements during hot summers and cold winters.
Kittens who are younger than 4 weeks old shouldn’t get solid food, and they need to be weaned from their mothers carefully. If you’re not sure how to handle weaning (in case the mother cat isn’t around or seems to have trouble with the kittens), consult with a vet.
Switching Nutritional Stages
Always talk to a vet about when to switch stages before you actually do so. Kittens need food that fuels growth and activity, non-senior adult cats need food that maintains energy, and senior cats need food that addresses potential senior health problems. If the cat is weak, gaining too much weight, being abnormally lazy, or showing signs that something is missing nutritionally (the condition of the coat and skin are often indicators of this), talk to the vet about narrowing down the choices of food to find the most appropriate formulation for the cat’s individual issues.
You’ll find different sources have different starting points for the “senior” stage. This can happen anywhere from 5 years and on up but typically hits by 7 years. See your vet when the cat hits 5 years old to assess the cat’s diet and health.
When it’s time to switch the cat’s food, visit Coral Ridge Animal Hospital. The vets can examine your cat and see if its diet needs adjustment.