As cats grow older, their nutritional needs usually change. Proper nutrition can add years to a cat’s life and slow down the progression of many diseases. Monitoring your older cat’s appetite, food consumption, eating habits, weight, and body condition will be helpful when you and your veterinarian determine your cat’s specific nutritional requirements and diet.
When choosing a cat food, check that the label says it meets the standards set by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). That ensures that the food meets at least the minimum nutritional needs of your cat. You can ignore terms like “gourmet,” “premium,” “super-premium,” and “natural,” which have no standard definition. You can ask your vet what type of food (wet or dry) they recommend for your cat.
Cats have not evolved from strict meat eaters in the way dogs have. In their nutritional needs, cats are much the same as their wild ancestors. They are particularly well suited to digesting animal protein but unable to utilize dietary fiber. Cats do best on a diet, which is twenty percent protein, nine percent fat thirty-five percent carbohydrates and a maximum of ten percent fiber.
Many people who encounter feral cats start feeding them, but feeding alone can actually make the situation worse. Feeding ferals increases their ability to give birth to even more kittens who are destined to suffer and die premature deaths. It is essential to get these cats off the streets in order to prevent not only their own suffering, but that of their offspring. Feeding should only be done as a prelude to trapping, to get cats accustomed to eating in a certain place at a certain time.
Free choice feeding is recommended for kittens under 6 months of age. At this young age, kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want and their food bowls should be kept full with dry kibble. Many people continue to keep the food bowl full throughout the cat’s life. For some finicky cats, this method may work.