I’ve gleaned some guidelines from various places for this post. I’ve listed my sources at the bottom if you’re interested.
Since I always wondered if I was feeding my cats right, I thought I’d do some research and see if I could come up with the proper way. Turns out, this depends entirely on how old your cat is.
First cat to consider, the one from a shelter. They haven’t been starved, most likely, but they also haven’t been overfed. There might be a tendency for you to overfeed once you’ve rescued your little darling, but resist! Twice a day is plenty.
WebMD does not recommend dry food, but we haven’t had problems with it for most of our cats. This site also stresses that enough water is always available. The Cornell University site is not against dry food, saying that some cats prefer it. Some dislike it, and some like a mixture of dry and canned.
Everyone is against homemade cat food. They need a specific, delicate balance of nutrients, and the cat food manufacturers take care to achieve that.
Also, each cat is different. While the guidelines below and elsewhere are good, you’ll probably want to tailor each cat’s diet to her individual quirks.
Kittens. You should look for cat food specifically for kittens since they need lots of protein, fatty acids, and minerals, plus more calories than adults. Most experts disapprove of grazing, saying to leave the bowl down only until kitty is finished, then picking it up.
Adult cats, one year old. They can still be fed twice a day, but now you need to buy adult cat food. To transition, of course, you can mix the kitten food, using less and less of it over a couple of weeks.
Senior cats, over 8. Now it gets tricky. These kitties are slowing down and need senior food, or just enough to maintain weight and not increase it.
All cats! They need protein. Food with grain added is fine unless yours has an allergy. As cats age, they also may develop problems with kidneys or thyroid and require a special diet for that. Don’t ever put your cat on a vegetarian diet! They’re not people, actually, they’re meat eaters.
I always have fed my cats side by side, but this is not recommended by the Cat Fancy article. Our sons cats cannot be fed this way, or one would be obese and the other starving. I think you should play this one by ear, depending on how your cats act.
Although I write the FAT CAT series, I don’t recommend that you try to fatten up your cat! Overfeeding is the number one mistake cat owners make. If your cat isn’t a working barn cat, he doesn’t need a lot of calories as an adult. Sometimes you can’t prevent a few extra ounces (or even a pound or two), but let’s not TRY to have fat cats.
Cat Fancy magazine September 2014