Life stages

Kittens

The delicate growth period of kittens is an important part in cats’ lives, because that creates the basis for the health and balanced nature of adult cats.Anyone considering getting a kitten should become acquainted with how to care for cats, and what needs kittens have, well before actually getting a pet. Kittens need a lot of attention and time, so that they would develope into well-balanced pets.

Nutrition is highly significant for any cat’s health. Their mother’s milk is the best nutrition for kittens up to the age of 5 – 6 weeks. You should only get a kitten when it has been weaned from its mother, and able to eat solid food.

It is good to feed kittens several times a day, so that they can get enough energy. It is recommended to feed kittens food that has been developed for their needs, meeting their particular mineral, vitamin and nutritional requirements.

It is good to make a kitten used to eating various kinds of foods. If a cat has learned to eat both dry food and tinned food already as a kitten, it will agree to eat such food at an older age, too. However, any food variations have to take place gradually. A sudden change in their diet can easily cause malfunctions in the kittens’ digestive tract. The best way to find out the suitable amount of food for your kitten is by trial and error, the feeding tables on the packages are meant only as a guide. Avoid overfeeding your cat, excessive weight is dangerous for your cat’s health.

The surrounding environment also has a great significance for cats. Kittens sleep a lot as they grow, so it is important that cats have a peaceful, warm and cosy place to sleep, where they can enjoy a good sleep. It is also recommended to arrange social stimulants for cats, so that they could use their hunting instincts. For example, various toys and scratching posts provide stimulation for cats.

Kittens continue to grow until they are about 1 year old. Even though a cat could look fully grown even before that time, they still need nutrition and care suitable for kittens until they reach adulthood. When a cat is one year old, they can start eating food meant for adult cats. However, remember to introduce the new food gradually.

Pregnant / nursing mothers

During pregnancy and after giving birth, female cats have considerably increased energy needs. That is why it is recommended to feed such cats with particularly energy-rich food / food meant for kittens, for about two weeks before giving birth, throughout the nursing period, up to the time of weaning. In cats, pregnancy lasts between 57 – 67 days, the average length of the gestation period is 63 days.

Once the kittens are born, the mother cat’s weight generally drops by approximately 40 %, compared to what it was during the gestation period. That is why all nursing adult cats should have easily digestible, energy-rich food, which guarantees that the milk supply is plentiful, and the mother does not lose too much weight. According to research, kittens whose mother ate a particular food even during the time of weaning, will like this food themselves when they are older. That is why it is easy to start feeding the kittens the same food that their mother has been eating already before giving birth to them, all the way until the end of weaning.

Sterilised cats

Sterilizing cats is a particularly recommended option if you are not planning to breed cats. The life expectancy of a sterilised cat may well double, because sterilisation reduces risks for diseases, and often turns the cats into more peaceful pets, as the hormone production is levelled off.

Sterilised cats often have an increased risk of becoming overweight. Because the hormone production changes, the cat's appetite can increase, but at the same time, its energy consumption could reduce by 30 %. Sterilised cats are in greater danger to develop uroliths, as excessive weight increases the risk for developing uroliths, and less active cats usually drink less. That is why sterilised cats need a particularly carefully planned diet in order to stay healthy.

Sterilised cats need nutrition with an optimal ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates in order to achieve optimal weight management and muscular maintenance. Because cats naturally feel rather little thirst, sterilised cats in particular should be encouraged to drin, by providing them water in various dishes. Drinking water and the optimal pH levels of the food ensure that the kidney functionality of a sterilised cat remains normal, and they also prevent the formation of uroliths and kidney stones.

Aging cats

It is sometimes difficult to notice the beginning of the aging process in a cat, as there might not be any major changes in the cat’s behaviour and feeding habits. However, it is good to take the needs of an aging cat into consideration, so that the cat can maintain its health and fitness also at an older age.

The energy intake need of aging cats is reduced, because those cats do not move around as much anymore. They may also have an increased need for sleep, and aging cats often spend more time sleeping than before. The cat’s vision and hearing can also weaken, which is a natural part of the aging process.

Overweight cats and weight control

Excessive weight is a significant problem for cats, as well. According to some estimates, even up to a third of cats is overweight. Just like in humans, excessive weight constitutes a considerable health risk for cats, because it strains the body significantly. Overweight cats probably have shorter lives, and the quality of life of those cats also suffers from excessive weight, because an overweight pet cannot move properly, and might not even reach to groom itself.

Excess weight in cats is often caused by problems with feeding. Excessive feeding, fatty food, extra treats and not enough exercise can easily result in a weight gain for a cat. Sterilisation also makes cats prone to excess weight, as it reduces the cat’s energy intake need when the hormonal functions level off, while often increasing the cat’s appetite. Cat treats that seem small for humans have often proportionally as many calories as a bar of chocolate. It would also be wise to check your own habits and that of the cat. Do you always give food to your cat when they ask for it at the table? Do you always give your cat a bit to taste when you are cooking? Owners can often give treats without even noticing it, and the total calorific value of the treats can get rather large.

You should check your cat’s fitness at regular intervals. You should be able to count the ribs of a normal-weight cat easily just with your hands. However, it is important to consider here that there are differences between breeds, too. Hence, if you are not sure what your cat’s ideal weight is, you should get your vet to assess it. Remember to keep your cat fit, and help it lose weight, when necessary.

Cats can achieve weight loss with the help of nutrition and exercise. It is recommended that cats are fed with food suitable for weight loss, so that the quantity of food does not particularly change. In this case, the cat will not feel hungry, and weight loss will be controlled. Simply reducing the amount of treats also helps a cat to lose weight. However, remember that any dietary changes should be made gradually. 

Losing weight needs patience, because weight loss can take a great amount of time. Maintaining an ideal weight also needs a new kind of diet, so that the cat would not gain the weight back again. Therefore, a healthy diet and sufficient activity levels should be made a part of a cat’s daily routine.

Verkkopalvelut: Mediasignal