At about 12 months, your cat no longer requires the high levels of minerals, protein, and energy needed while he was a quickly growing kitten. So switch him to a high-quality food, such as IAMS™ Proactive Health™ Healthy Adult - Chicken, which is specifically balanced for the nutritional needs of adult cats. When choosing food, follow these steps.
- Read the nutritional claims on food packages. Check the label to make sure the food is appropriate for the stage of your cat's life (kitten, adult, or senior). Also, look for a statement saying that the food meets the requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If your cat's food doesn't have the AAFCO’s nutritional claim on its label, there is no guarantee that your cat will get a complete and balanced diet.
- Choose premium food. Premium cat foods, which generally use higher-quality, more easily digestible ingredients, are more nutrient-dense than the less expensive brands. So, your cat will get the calories he needs by eating less food. As a result, the difference in actual cost of feeding him premium food instead of generic may be only a couple of cents a day.
- Consult your veterinarian. Because your cat's nutritional needs change as he grows older and certain medical conditions require a special diet, always talk with your vet about cat feeding specifics, including what–and how much–to feed your cat.
Once you've selected a food, establish healthy feeding habits.
- Always measure the food you feed your cat. Start with the portion recommended on the package, even though the serving size may not be ideal to keep your cat healthy. If he doesn't eat all of the food or starts to gain too much weight, cut back the portions; if he begins to look thin, increase the amount until he's maintaining a healthy weight.
- Create a cat feeding schedule. Nutritionally, one meal a day is OK for adult cats. If your cat seems hungry more often, try multiple smaller meals at established times. Remember, more mealtimes shouldn't mean more food. Split up the recommended serving size to create several meals.
- Consider free-feeding for fit and trim pets. Leaving dry food available all day so your cat can nibble whenever he likes will work if he's at a healthy weight. If he's overweight or overeats, or you can't gauge how much he's eating because other pets share his food, it's best not to leave food out.
- Ban table scraps and limit treats. Not only are they high in fat and calories, but they also can interfere with the correct—and complete—nutrition your cat is getting from his food.
- Introduce new food gradually. Whenever you want to begin your cat on a new food, mix it in with the old. Start with a small amount of new food and increase the percentage over several days. Cats are more likely to accept change if it happens slowly, and their digestive systems are less likely to be upset.
- Keep fresh water in a clean bowl available at all times. Cats need water to help regulate their body temperature, digest their food, and eliminate waste, among other things. Providing plenty of fresh water is especially important if your cat eats only dry food or is prone to urinary tract blockages.
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Cats are known for being a bit choosey about what they will and won’t do. And a little pickiness is fine when it comes to picking out toys and napping spots! But if your cat is or becomes extra-selective about what they’ll eat, it’s time to pay attention and perhaps talk to your vet. You and your vet know your cat best, so it’s always worth checking in if you think your cat isn’t eating enough and want their professional advice.
Start by paying close attention to what your cat is eating and how they behave. This information will help you, your household and your vet work together to make sure your cat is living and eating well.
Feeding Tips for the Truly Finicky Cat
Pay Attention to All the Cat Treats
Is your cat begging for table scraps or holding out on eating until you offer treats? Extras like these can be very disruptive to your cat’s appetite and diet. Think about them like snacks or desserts for you — tasty cravings that are easy to fill up on. A small portion may not seem like much, but it can make a big different for a cat-sized digestive system!
Try dialing back how much you treat your cat to tasty extras and see if their interest in the food bowl starts to return. Remember, it’s generally all right for cats to skip a few meals, but if they haven’t eaten for 24-36 hours it’s time to call the vet (even if they’ve continued drinking water).
Review Your Cat’s Food Routine
Humans often crave variety in their meals, but for cats, routine is king. It’s not likely they’d avoid their regular food out of boredom with it, but if you’ve recently changed the kind of food, the number of feedings or the times you feed your cat, they may be avoiding eating as a response.
It's a good idea to change your cat’s diet gradually (unless your vet advises otherwise). Pickiness can often be resolved by helping your cat adjust and get comfortable with their updated diet!
Help Your Cat Relax While Feeding
If your cat starts eating less, you may want to look for factors that could be causing stress. Seemingly unrelated changes to their environment can shift your cat’s stress levels enough to impact their interest in food. Has another animal or person joined or left the household? Has your cat been adapting to new surroundings due to a move or renovation? As the stress of that change begins to subside, your cat will probably go back to a normal diet.
Talk to your vet about good ideas for reducing your cat’s stress levels and share any concerns you have about their diet then too. You’re both on the same team, so work together to help your cat feel better!
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