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 http://www.kittycams.uga.edu/ 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 house. 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 http://indoorpet.osu.edu/ 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!