Medical, social, and emotional problems resulting from the way most cats are currently fed and the best methods to appropriately feed them, are the principal topics addressed in Feline Feeding Programs: Addressing Behavioral Needs to Improve Feline Health and Wellbeing, the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ (AAFP’s) newly released consensus statement.
Published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, the statement identifies normal feeding behaviors in cats and also includes strategies for encouraging cats to hunt, forage, and eat frequent small meals in a solitary fashion at home.
“Currently, most pet cats are fed in one location ad libitum, or receive one or two large and usually quite palatable meals daily. In addition, many indoor cats have little environmental stimulation, and eating can become an activity in and of itself,” said Tammy Sadek, DVM, DABVP (feline), the consensus statement chair.
“This current type of feeding process does not address the behavioral needs of cats. Appropriate feeding programs need to be customized for each household, and should incorporate the needs of all cats for play, predation, and a location to eat and drink where they feel safe.”
According to AAFP, allowing cats to exhibit normal feeding behaviors regularly can help alleviate or prevent stress-related issues like cystitis and/or obesity-related problems, such as inactivity and overeating.
The consensus statement and accompanying client brochure offer strategies for cat caregivers to understand feeding preferences and provide the proper environment to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding. It also highlights the importance of feeding programs, which consider whether cats are indoor-only or have outdoor access, live in multi-pet households, or are aged or debilitated.