SA Feline Behaviour and Nutrition

Dr. Uli Helvoigt
Dr. Denise Peebles
Dr. Joanna Kouwenberg
Dr. Stacy Radics
Feline Behaviour and Nutrition
Ask yourself if your cat follows this daily activity pattern of an outdoor cat:
 62% of the day spent sleeping and resting
 13% of the day spent hunting and eating
 25% of the day spent grooming, playing and interacting with other cats
Check out to see what outdoor cats do!
Obesity in our cats often starts before they are 2 years old. Spaying or neutering our feline friends
has been linked to excessive weight gain, as has an indoor lifestyle and how and what we feed them.
Spaying and neutering cats is necessary to control their overall population and prevent unwanted
behaviours. However, there is a lot we can do to enrich their lives mentally and nutritionally.
We know that within 1-2 weeks of spaying/neutering a cat their hormone profile changes. Their food
intake increases dramatically (peaking 10 weeks after surgery), while at the same time their caloric
requirement decreases by about 30%. So we need to establish a new nutritional plan as soon as our
pets are spayed/neutered.
Cats have reached 90% of their adult weight by the time they are 7-8 months old. We should
change their diet to an adult food at this time.
 Calories need to be restricted after your cat has been spayed/neutered. A rough guide for
maintenance requirements is 40-50kcal/kg/day. Usually this means feeding about 30% less
than the recommendation on the bag. And remember that treats have calories too.
 Cats learn to prefer dry food at a young age. We need to encourage diversity in their diet, try
out different flavours, wet and dry food, and even try different brands of food. Don’t get your
cat hooked on fish as it is very high in phosphorous. How many cats in the wild have access
to deep sea tuna?
 Wild cats eat about 10 small meals a day and make an average of 10-15 attempts to achieve
this. They hunt day and night. Try to work on a feeding plan to mimic this (using feeding
puzzles and toys).
 Cats are obligate carnivores. They need about 60-70% protein in their diet. The average dry
food has about 35% protein; the average canned food has 51% protein. Cats should get a
minimum of 5g of protein a day.
 Cats are not social eaters (humans and dogs are). Lions are the only cat that hunts and eats
as a pack. There are many ideas on how to separate cats from each other or the dog in the
 Learn to recognize normal cat behavior. When your cat comes to greet you at the front door
with its tail up and rubbing its face on you, it is greeting you. Many times owners interpret this
as hunger.
 Check out for more ideas on indoor pet enrichment.
If you are wondering about your cat’s body condition, please feel free to book a consultation with one
of our technicians. We can help you with a plan to get your cat to a healthy weight!