How does my cat’s activity level influence the daily food portions?

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Activity levels vary dramatically between pets and will play an important role in determining caloric intake. As an example, a cat with a normal activity level would receive a little more than a cat who just lies around the house. Alternatively, a pregnant or lactating cat would require more calories (probably kitten food, which is about 20 to 40 percent over regular adult food).

Pet owners should consult with their veterinarians to determine the best feeding schedule and types of foods for their pets. Generally, an adult cat will be fed a “maintenance” food, which is specially-formulated to provide the cat with all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and amino acids she needs. Make sure fresh, clean water is available to her at all times and snacks should only comprise five percent of her daily caloric allotment.

There are three methods of feeding:

• Portion control feeding, where the amount suggested on the label of your pet’s food into two meals, spaced eight to twelve hours apart, adjusted up or down as required.
• Free feeding: The (dry) food is left out all the time so the cat can eat as much as she wants, whenever she wants. Some cats will overeat, so this can lead to obesity, and it’s not generally recommended. However, the method is often recommended for a lactating cat because of the massive increase in nutritional requirements.
• Timed feeding: A portion of food is available for the cat to eat for a specified period of time. For example, you would place food in your cat’s bowl and allow your pet to nosh for 30 minutes. After that time, whatever food the cat has not eaten is removed

Sometimes there will be conditions will affect your cat’s energy needs, and you should always discuss the nutritional requirements with your veterinarian. These periods might include:

• Extreme hot or cold weather.
• Illness, surgery, pregnancy, lactation.
• Show cats: It’s not unusual for a cat’s energy requirements to increase by 20 percent of more when she’s on the show circuit, but go back to feeding her regular maintenance when she’s on a break.

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