Posted By: Jade - Veterinary Nurse

Feeding fun for your cats

In the wild, cats have to hunt their food.  This is essentially one big problem for them to solve, first they must find their prey before even attempting to catch it.  Feral cats may spend up to 12 hours a day hunting and would need to catch around 10-20 small rodents each day to meet their calorie requirements!  Although domestic cats do not have to hunt their food studies show that they prefer 9-16 small meals a day.  This is because it is more closely imitates the natural feeding frequency of their ancestors and often why most cats will graze at their food through out the day.  Although this doesn’t apply to all!

There are a number of things we can do to make meal times more interesting and mentally stimulating for our cats.  One simple way is by placing their food in a variety of locations in the home which encourages them to use their senses to search for and find their food.  A range of ‘puzzle feeders’ are also available, they vary in their level of difficulty.  Initially this may be a strange concept to your cat, especially if they have not used one before.  After all they have never had to work for their food; it has always been presented to them.  If your cat usually has its food in a bowl then initially some food should remain available in the bowl as well as in the puzzle feeder.  Its best to start with something simple, clear puzzle balls are a good first choice and placing a few biscuits around the feeder may help them to get the hang of it.  Usually the idea is that they nudge the feeder or use their paws to hook the food out, depending on what type of feeder it is.  A fun, cheap and easy idea is to make a toilet roll pyramid, as pictured.  Once your cat gets the hang of it the level of difficulty can gradually be increased.

Studies show that the benefits of feeding in this way include reduced stress, reduced obesity and reduced problem behaviours such as inappropriate toileting and over grooming. We recommend feeding cats five or more small portions a day, however a balance between what your cat needs and your family life must be achieved.  The amount a cat should be fed varies and you should always follow the packaging guidelines.  It is very important not to over feed your cat, this can be achieved by weighing out the correct quantity of food.  The best way to ensure your cat is being fed the correct quantity of food is to monitor their body weight and body condition.  For more information about this or anything discussed in this article please discuss it with your vet or veterinary nurse.  Happy feeding!



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