The American Association of Feline Practitioners recently released its Consensus Statement, ‘Feline Feeding Programs: Addressing Behavioral Needs to Improve Feline Health and Wellbeing’, and accompanying client brochure to the veterinary community.
The Consensus Statement, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, explores the medical, social, and emotional problems that can result from the manner in which most cats are currently fed.
The statement identifies normal feeding behaviours in cats and provides strategies to allow these normal feline feeding behaviours, such as hunting and foraging, and eating frequent small meals in a solitary fashion, to occur in the home environment.
Allowing cats to exhibit these normal feeding behaviours regularly can help alleviate or prevent stress-related issues such as cystitis, and/or obesity-related problems such as inactivity and overeating.
Reducing stress with appropriate feeding programs can also help anxious cats, who in an attempt to avoid other pets in the household, may not access their food frequently enough and lose weight.
“Currently, most pet cats are fed in one location ad libitum or receive one or two large and usually quite palatable meals daily,” Consensus Statement chair Tammy Sadek said.
“In addition, many indoor cats have little environmental stimulation, and eating can become an activity in and of itself.
“This current type of feeding process does not address the behavioural needs of cats. Appropriate feeding programs need to be customised 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.”