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Cats need to hunt, forage for meals, says AAFP

Expert panel provides strategies for feline caregivers to allow normal feeding behaviors and reduce stress-related eating problems

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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.


One thought on “Cats need to hunt, forage for meals, says AAFP

  1. Great article! So many of the feline behaviors of which cat owners do not approve, come from boredom and the unnatural conditions in which cats live. Cats do not outgrow their need to play and hunt. Watch a few episodes of, “My Cat From Hell”, and you will see that Jackson Galaxy solves the problems people have with their cats by encouraging the owners to play with their cats more frequently and providing the cats with an opportunity to climb. There is also a problem with people who do not provide a sufficient number of litter boxes in various locations, do not clean the boxes frequently (at least once per day) and use the strongly scented litter that cats do not like.

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