Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

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exlibris
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Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by exlibris » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:03 am

Winston & Whisper are almost 9 months old and are quite chubby.
We had decided we were going to bring them up primarily on dry food as this seemed healthier for teeth & kidneys, plus the added advantage of the end deposit smelling a bit less potent! The idea was to give them infrequent 'treats' of wet food, tuna or cut meat so things weren't dull.
So we followed the very vague instructions on the back of dry food, and were extremely frugal and, eventually stopped for a bit, the extras. Yet the dry food amounts seems high.
There is no indication on the packet about how to vary amounts based on how active the cat is. At the moment I'm not letting them out because it's too cold and they still haven't bonded properly with us.

Can anyone guide me to an online calculator, or give me a rule of thumb?

Also, do you think it would be premature to go on to adult cat food? There is only 1 flavour of this kitten food and they must be very bored with it. I often wonder if they are pretty much fully grown now.

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fjm
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Re: Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by fjm » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:35 am

I don't think dry food is generally considered better for the kidneys - on the contrary, wet food is the usual recommendation. Cats have evolved to get most of their fluids from their prey, and may not drink enough to compensate for a dry food, leading to chronic mild dehydration. And the benefits of kibble for teeth are often overstated - the high levels of carbohydrate in kibble can cause more problems than the crunching solves. There again, cats can live long and happy lives on biscuits - just ensure they are drinking plenty of water, if necessary providing a fountain or similar to encourage them.

Manufacturer's recommendations on quantities tend to be very high, and at 8-9 months your kittens' active growth stage will have slowed down and they will need significant less food. I would transition them to an adult wet food - ideally cans of meat rather than fish food for maximum safety and environmental responsibility. Kibble then becomes a treat and occasional standby, rather than the main diet.

The best way of knowing they are getting the right amount of food is to weigh them and assess their body condition. Most vet practices will be very happy to help you with this - far better get it right early on than be dealing with all the problems brough by obesity further down the line!

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Re: Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by Ruth B » Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:30 am

I admit to also being surprised at the comment that dry food was better for kidneys, everything i have heard in the past has made some links between kidney stones, crystals in the urine etc. and the animal being fed a lot of dried food. On the other hand if they are allowed outside and they get bored with the dried food and don't feel it's meeting their needs, then they might decide to supplement it themselves.

How much they actually need depends a lot on the quality of the food they are getting, as fjm said the best option is to weigh them regularly. If you can pick them up and cuddle them then the best technique that i have found is to do so then step on a set of bathroom scales with the cat in your arms. Step off, reset the scales and then weigh yourself with out the cat, simple subtraction gives you the cats weight and doesn't upset the cat too much.

As for kitten verses adult food, I don't think it makes a lot of difference, i got my pair of juniors when they were 6 months old and they were onto adult food after a month or so as they were integrated with my resident cat and it was easier to feed them all the same food. Then again i also remember a time when you could only get cat food in 400g tins and in rabbit flavour (which has vanished for some reason), if you were really lucky they might have beef or chicken in one week. Modern day cats are well and truly spoilt.

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Re: Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by Mollycat » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:45 am

Firstly agree with the others that dry food does not seem a good choice for kidney health and the high carb isn't ideal nutrition and I believe some research links exclusively dry feeding with diabetes and obesity as well as chronic UTIs in males. Dry is for the owner's convenience.

My cats have always been free fed and regulated their own weight, whether we've had them from kitten or as adults. In most cases their weight has changed at times in their lives, between slim and filled out, but never a cause for concern. The only exception to this was Molly and as it turns out she was ill all that time, she is now free fed normal food, leaves some, has titbits, and is stable at a slightly overweight shape but goes in at the flanks.

Metabolism varies hugely not just through age and neutering but between individuals whether indoor or free range. My barely 3.5kg Misha would put away a whole tin daily while 5kg plus Bobby never finished up two pouches. Some days like us they are just hungrier than others. My personal belief is that running out of food and being made to wait for the next mealtime often produces an anxious, greedy, demanding cat, while a cat who knows the food is always there has a healthier relationship with food. For the same reason I don't use treats for training, same approach as my OH had with his dog who has dry always there to pick at and two meals a day which he sometimes leaves unfinished. He is also a very healthy weight.

All this to say feeding guides are just guides and a healthy lifestyle should result in a balanced appetite and a naturally healthy shaped animal that isn't obsessed with meals or treats. Now that Molly is healthy again she will even walk away from table titbits and meat when she's had enough. This is the cat reached a weight where she couldn't groom her back any more and was on weight loss food for 18 months until she fell ill and we discovered she was a fat hyperthyroid. I dreaded how fat she would become once treated for it but quite the opposite, she is now perfectly healthy and the food obsession that drove me to distraction is completely cured.

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Re: Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by booktigger » Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:35 pm

As the others have said, I wouldn't say dry was better for teeth or kidneys. I used to always recommend people started swapping to adult after neutering, until we started neutering at 9 weeks, when I changed to at 6 months old, so I would certainly say 9 months is old enough, and as kitten has more fat and protein, could be enough to help. Both wet and dry amounts are higher than required to make us buy more food.

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Re: Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by lilynmitz » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:18 pm

Agree with the others re dried food and kidneys, although I had a cat with chronic kidney disease who did well for a few years on “renal” dried food, (she wouldn't touch the wet version) but she drank water like a fish to make up for it.

I’ve always free fed my cats, and none have ended up obese. But I know this isn’t always the case, particularly with cats who have had to fend for themselves or compete in large multi-cat households for their food, which may result in them being food obsessed, but all my rescue cats, some of whom were strays have self-regulated.

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Re: Healthy eating in almost fully grown kittens

Post by exlibris » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:56 pm

Thanks everyone! Very helpful :)
I'll introduce more of a mix then. I had a feeling part of the guzzling was because of boredom, but it could be natural feeling too. Adding wet will be good, but also switching to adult.

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