Like a human whose dietary needs change from infancy to adulthood, your cat has different dietary needs at different life stages. Age, pregnancy, convalescence (recovery from an injury, illness or surgery), chronic health problems, obesity and activity levels all affect your cat's nutritional needs. Here are some guidelines to help you recognize and respond to those needs.
- In proportion to weight, kittens need three to four times more food than adult cats.
- Make food available to your kitten at all times. Unlike puppies, kittens are not likely to overeat.
- After six months of age, your kitten can begin eating an adult diet.
- Contrary to popular wisdom, kittens do not need milk with their food - but make sure to provide plenty of water. If you want to give milk, try a lactose-reduced cat milk product.
- To avoid weight gain in a cat, who may be less active, cut down on the amount of food offered, or feed a reduced-calorie food.
- During pregnancy (which lasts about nine weeks), a breeding cat's food intake can double. You'll notice her gradually increased intake if she is fed "on demand."
- As your cat becomes older - around seven years of age - begin feeding smaller, more frequent meals. Your vet might eventually suggest feeding her a product designed especially for older cats.
- Pay greater attention to the body weight of your older cat - weight loss can be an early indicator of a number of health issues.