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Feeding Adult Cats

General Information

Because cats tend to develop very rigid eating habits, your adult cat's dietary preferences are likely to be influenced by how you have fed it during its growth and development. To prevent "addiction" to 1 or 2 food items, which may be detrimental to your pet's health in later years, provide some variety in its diet. Variety, however, should be provided in the form of various balanced cat foods, not by the addition of table foods.

The dietary needs of cats are different from those of dogs, and dog food does not supply the nutrients cats need. Severe health problems can occur in cats fed dog food. Also, fish and milk are not the natural foods of cats, and do not provide an adequate diet when fed exclusively.

Several commerical cat foods are available that provide a complete and balanced diet for cats. Your veterinarian can recommend some of these and advise you if any supplementation is necessary to meet the needs of your particular cat.

Cats require much higher levels of protein in their diet than do dogs. Unfortunately, protein is the single most expensive ingredient in cat foods. Consequently, bargain-brand or cheap cat foods contain low-grade, poorly digestible protein. For your cat's good health, avoid the cheaper brands of cat foods.

Special diets are available for specific health needs. One will be recommended when required. Water must be available at all times and should be changed at least once daily.

How Much Should You Feed Daily?

In general, you can feed your cat according to the manufacturer's directions, but under certain circum- stances the directions should be modified. The amount will vary according to age, activity, reproductive status and general health. On the average, a relatively active, nonpregnant, nonlactating, 8-lb adult cat requires about 30 calories per pound body weight daily.

Different foods vary in their caloric content, but you can use the following general rules:

Dry cat foods 300 calories per cup

Semi-moist foods 125 calories per packet

Canned foods 200 calories per 6-1/2-ounce can

The doctor can help you determine the exact calories contained in a specific brand.

Example: an 8-lb active adult cat with no special needs requires 30 calories per pound per day. You are feeding dry cat food. The total calories it needs are 8 x 30 = 240 calories. Therefore, you should feed 240/300 = 4/5 cup of dry food.