As your cat goes from kitten to adult to senior, the food intake and nutritional needs will change. As a kitten, your tabby gets all the food he or she needs from the mother. When your cat is about 4 weeks old, the mother will start the process of weaning and will begin to encourage the kitten to be a little more independent. The weaning process includes learning to eat foods the mother is eating as well as using the litter box and how to socialize and behave in the real word.
Weaning can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks of age. The first foods you will want to offer the kitten will be more gruel-like in texture (it should look like watered-down oatmeal) than the food he or she will eat as an adult. The particles of food will need to be small enough to get into his or her tiny mouth, so using a food processor to pulverize the food may be your best option. As your cat gets older, you will be able to use less liquid. By the time your cat is 10 weeks old, he or she will be able to eat food at the same consistency as an adult cat, but you may still need to keep the bite sizes small. However, the 10-week deadline is flexible. If your kitty was premature at birth, he or she may need another few weeks to get used to the chunkier foods. On the other hand, if your cat is hearty and hale, he or she may want to tackle the bite-sized foods a little earlier. Because of their non-stop play and exploration, kittens do need to eat more frequently throughout the day. They can eat up to six times a day until they are 3 months old. From 3 to 6 months of age, they will be happy to eat four times a day, and by the time they are 6 months old, most are ready to eat just two times a day as a full-grown cat does.
A cat is considered an adult at 6 months of age. The nutritional needs outlined in this book will serve him or her well throughout adult life. Like all cats, yours will benefit and attain optimum levels of health from a diet that provides proper nutrition and calories. You can feel comfortable feeding your cat a variety of fresh meats, vegetables, and easily digestible grains, and know that by doing so you will give him or her the nutrients necessary to enhance the quality of life.
Though technically, cats are not considered senior until they are 12, adult cats can begin showing their age as early as 7 years old. It is around that age when some cats start to experience a change in their metabolic rate and the strength of their immune system. You will know because, like humans, your cat’s hair may change color, signs of gravity’s pull might start to show on the body in a drooping tummy, and your cat may not be as willing to leap to the top of the bookcase as frequently as when he or she was younger. Internal signs may not be as easy to identify, but senior cats are more prone to arthritis, intestinal problems, tooth decay, and tartar buildup.
As your cat ages, you will need to be on your toes and keep an eye out for any change in activity level so you can adjust the calorie count accordingly to maintain a healthy weight. You might also want to speak to your veterinarian to see if you should increase vitamin E intake to help boost antibody levels. Perhaps, you will need to include more antioxidant vitamins in your cat’s diet to help fight off free radicals. Unfortunately, most of the foods that are high in antioxidants are fruits, spices, and vegetables cats cannot eat. However, rice bran, oats, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, peas, and pumpkin do contain many- antioxidant vitamins. To help with thinning hair, you can add omega-3 fatty acids found in fish liver oil to his or her diet.
Making a complete overhaul of your cat’s diet may seem like a daunting task right now — considering the various options you have to choose from for feeding your cat an all-natural diet, trying to figure out caloric needs, and how to change the diet as your cat matures. It all can seem a bit too much at first glance. But, once you make the commitment and start the process, new habits will kick in, and everything will eventually flow as smoothly as it did prior to making any alterations. It probably will not take long before you notice positive changes in your cat. Soon enough, you will know that the effort to modify his or her diet was more than worth it.