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Feline nutrition Q&A with the National Animal Welfare Trust

Earlier this year we hosted a live Q&A with Dr Liz Bales and Laura Crotch Harvey of Burns Pet Nutrition over on our Facebook page, and to celebrate rehoming month we're posting some questions from the event! 

If you have any pet nutrition questions, please contact your local centre. 

Q: Why does one of my cats daintily eat a small amount of and then five times out of 10 make her way to the windowsill and sick it up?

A: I want to stress the importance of a thorough physical exam by a veterinarian. If your cat checks out and is physically normal, she may be eating a larger portion at one time than her stomach can tolerate. We call this scarf and barf. The average cat’s stomach is the size of a ping pong ball. Nature made them to hunt and eat small meals throughout the day and night.

Q: Why does my cat have a smaller appetite when the weather is hot?

A: There are a number of different reasons why a cat may have a smaller appetite in the summer months... they are often using less calories as they are lying around in the sun so they will not need as much food. In the winter they will need more calories to keep warm! However, we even see these changes with indoor cats as there are also hormonal changes in their body throughout the year which fluctuate with the day length and this can cause changes to their appetite too! Keep an eye on your cat's body condition and as long as they are maintaining a nice weight they will be getting enough food!

Q: My cat is now 11 months old, should he now be eating adult kibble?

A: Yes if he is a nice weight you should be fine to move him to adult kibble now. Just make any changes gradually so that he gets used to the new food so take a couple of weeks to wean him over!

Q: One of our cats has had intermittent diarrhoea, monthly for last five months. Both of my cats are wormed and are indoor cats. Vet said it could be a diet issue, but how can this be when they are both having the same diet since 10 weeks old? And what can we do?

A: Cats can develop a react to an ingredient at any time so it is possible that she has developed a reaction to something. It would definitely be worth trying a food with some different ingredients to what you are currently feeding. If you try a change of food I would cut the treats out for now too. As it can be anything they may have developed a reaction to you may not see improvements with a change of diet if it is something in the treats causing the problem! Most reactions are to a food they have been for a while as it builds up over time. It is quite rare for them to react to something they have never had before which is why it would be good to try something quite different! 

Q: I feed my cat in the kitchen, but she won't eat when anyone is around her. We have to leave the kitchen and shut the door before she will eat, why?

A: This cat read the book! Typically, cats are solitary hunters that prefer to hunt and eat alone. For cats, hunting and eating is not a social behaviour.

Q: My parents recently rehomed a cat but when they got him home, he wouldn’t drink. He was eating dry kibble so they were keen to make sure he was drinking enough, but he wouldn’t touch bottle or tap water from his bowl. They noticed him panting a few times so knew he was thirsty and eventually started alternating between dry and wet food so they could ensure he was getting enough liquids. However, recently they’ve caught him drinking from a plant pot! But he still avoids his water bowl. Why is this?

A: It is possible it is the rainwater he prefers rather than drinking from a plant pot so maybe try filling his bowls with rain water. Tap water has lots of things added in it which many cats do not like!
It could also be that cats prefer to drink in a separate location from where they eat. Try putting water in various locations of the house and in different vessels - pie plate, bowl, juice glass.

Q: Is a fish diet healthy for cat? I get waste fish fresh from fish mongers and gently boil and debone.

A: When you are mixing different foods it can be harder to ensure that the cat is getting a balanced diet. Any brand of cat food will be a complete food so will contain all the nutrients she needs so she doesn't necessarily need any fish adding in. If you want to give her some extra fish she will need less of her dry food to account for it.


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