Can I change my cat food
The most common misconceptions about feeding cats
Uncomfortable eater or Garfield figure: The special eating behavior of cats can be a problem.
We all really only want our cats good, and yet we often do exactly the wrong thing when it comes to feeding because we have succumbed to traditional ideas and errors about cat feeding. In this post you can read about the peculiarities of cat behavior that often lead us astray and what consequences this can have.
Misconception # 1: My cat only eats as much as it needs.
Time and again it is said that cats themselves know best when they are full and only eat as much as they really need. If you watch a cat eating, this opinion seems to be true: the cat calmly nibbles a few pieces of dry food or a little moist food and leaves. The whole thing repeats itself a few times a day.
Unfortunately, however, most cats consume more calories each day than are good for them. It is estimated that around every second cat in Germany is now overweight. Why is that?
- The feeling of satiety in our domestic cats is unfortunately not infallible. Among other things, breeding could have contributed to this, because completely different criteria play a role in the selection of breeding
- Most house cats are neutered and neutering leads to more appetite, but at the same time also to a lower energy requirement.
- The average German cat is around a lot and moves significantly less than their wild relatives.
- Many cats are fed dry food, which is an "energy concentrate" when compared to wet food.
These are not arguments against neutering or dry food, but just reasons why we should not refill our cats' bowls indefinitely.
How is it going right?
Cats that do not benefit from human care eat 10 to 15 or even 20 times within 24 hours (i.e. day and night) - whenever they are lucky enough to hunt a mouse, a small bird or another prey animal.
Our domestic cats like to eat just as often when they have the opportunity. So there is nothing against taking the daily ration in the morning dried animal food in the food bowl and the cat helps itself when it wants (so-called ad libitum feeding). The only important thing is:
When the daily ration is finished, the bowl will remain empty on that day!
If your cat Wet food you should divide the daily ration of food into several small portions, which you fill fresh into the bowl several times a day (at least in the morning and in the evening) so that there are no leftovers. Moist food leftovers that have been lying in the bowl for hours quickly become unhygienic and most cats find them unsavory anyway.
How much cat food your cat needs every day depends not only on the calorie content of the food, but also, for example, on the age and activity level of your cat. Use the information on the food packaging as a guide and keep an eye on your cat's weight. If your cat is neutered, a bit older and takes it easy, it needs up to 30% fewer calories than an uncastrated young hopper.
If you have any questions about your cat's individual energy needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Misconception No. 2: My cat won't get full from cat food. She begs all the time and she often goes hunting.
What do you think when your cat comes to you, strokes your legs and mows? "Aha, she wants something to eat." most people answer. Very often, however, there is a misunderstanding between the cat and the cat owner: The cat wants contact, master and mistress donate food. The velvet paw learns very quickly how to get food and shows the "begging behavior" more and more often. So the whole thing is often more of a habit or a misunderstanding than real hunger.
And: Even a full cat still hunts prey, as cats have a very strong hunting instinct. So if your cat brings mice home that doesn't mean they won't get full from the cat food.
How is it going right?
When your cat comes to you, offer her a play or cuddle unit if you feel like it and have time. Otherwise ignore the suggestions. At first, your cat will certainly ask for its usual food reward, but don't worry: if your cat is no longer successful with begging, it will stop. You just mustn't get weak every now and then, because this will increase the begging behavior. Like a gambler, your cat will always hope to finally get the food joker again. Remember: your attention is also a reward for your cat. Begging is just a habit.
Misconception # 3: Love goes through the stomach.
The unvarnished and uncomfortable truth for us cat lovers is:
Food has no social significance for cats!
For humans (and dogs) it is. As a result, we try to express our affection and to bind our pets to us by giving them treats. Unfortunately, your cat won't understand what you're saying to her. She will learn that you are an excellent source of food, but nothing more than that.
This may not be a problem in itself, but it will be if the treats are given very often or in addition to the normal feed ration. Because then the cat is in all likelihood getting too many calories and is not getting a balanced diet.
"If love is through the stomach, what happens to love when it is through the stomach?"Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen
Misconception No. 3: My cat needs variety in the food bowl.
Only a varied diet is also a healthy diet, do you think? This is true for us humans, but not for cats, because:
- A high quality complete food contains everything, really everything, that your cat needs.
- Cats are nutrition specialists and by no means complain about a monotonous menu (e.g. mouse, mouse, mouse, ...), as long as they can cover all of their nutritional needs with it.
It is true that cats like to try something new and are accordingly enthusiastic about a new type of food. If you get your cat used to the fact that a great new taste experience is always waiting in the bowl, you run the risk of turning into a picky eater who will force you to buy the latest cat food creations every few days.
Such feeding habits are difficult to break out of the cat and become a problem at the latest when your cat needs a special diet for medical reasons. However, since new taste experiences constantly lead to cats eating more than they should - every person who has been able to storm a really delicious buffet knows this effect - varied feeding is also often a cause for Obesity.
Variety is therefore not necessary in adult cats from a nutritional point of view and too much variety can become a problem. Incidentally, also because the gastrointestinal tract does not have time to adapt to the new food and may react with diarrhea for a few days - which is often mistakenly interpreted as food intolerance.
Misconception No. 4: My cat likes or can only tolerate a certain type of food. I can't give her any other food.
Many cat owners are familiar with the following situation: They give their velvet paws a different type of cat food that is eaten but immediately vomited again. Ergo we think: "So she likes that, but doesn't take it."
Mistake: The whole thing is a completely normal process, even if it is unsavory for us. The cat first gulps down the treat in a hurry and then enjoys it again in peace and quiet.
If we change the type of food from one day to the next, as already mentioned, diarrhea sometimes occurs until the gastrointestinal tract has got used to the new food. This is reflected on its own as soon as the intestinal flora has adapted a little and is not a sign of intolerance. Diarrhea can be avoided very easily by mixing the new food with the usual food for a few days, i.e. mixing in a little more every day.
Quite a few cat owners, on the other hand, complain that their cat does not even touch new food and that too has its origin in the eating behavior of the wild cat ancestors. Two cat-specific behaviors are primarily responsible for refusal to feed:
The lining embossing
Young kittens learn from their mother what is and what is not edible. If you are fed exclusively with moist food in the first half of the year, you will probably get little applause with dry food and vice versa. To avoid this, new cat owners should carefully familiarize their pupils with different types of food in the beginning. It is important not to overwhelm the kitten's still immature digestive tract and to make the whole thing as stress-free as possible, otherwise mechanism number two will come into effect:
The learned aversion
As open-minded as cats can be towards new food, it is over quickly as soon as the cat associates the food with discomfort in some way. Maybe you know that too? If we have really spoiled our stomachs with a fish sandwich, the smell of fish sandwiches may be enough to make us feel sick. And the spinach, which we had to eat as children, although we didn't want to, we will probably not love in our lives.
With cats, it is enough if they had to eat a certain food once when they were in the boarding house or at the veterinarian's to put them off with this food. However, this aversion does not last forever. After about 40 days (if the experience wasn't too drastic) you can be lucky and your cat will eat the food again.
With a lot of patience and a few tricks, the food imprint and the learned aversion can possibly be overcome or at least mitigated if it is absolutely necessary (for example in the event of illness). You can read more about this in the article "How you can make new cat food tasty for your cat".
Do you still have questions about feeding your cat? Contact us!
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