Cats are by nature predatory animals, catching mice, young rats, birds and, sometimes, fish and amphibians with great stealth and skill. Their method is to lie in wait for their victim, or to stalk it up to the moment of the final pounce . The shortness of their muzzles make it difficult for cats to reach out and snap at their prey with their jaws. Instead their style is to bring down the prey with their paws, and deliver the death blow with their teeth. This makes it appear as though the cat is playing with its prey.
Hunting ability is, to some extent, a matter of heredity , some cats being notoriously better and more skillful than others. Cats that are well fed and in peak condition are likely to be better hunters than others, and only cats in prime condition are able to tackle a rat. This hunting instinct cannot be erased from the cat's nature , but bird-lovers should avoid enticing birds into a cat't territory with food, nest boxes and so on.
An adult cat will need about 50 kilocalories per 450g (1lb) of body weight per day. A sedentary neutered cat may keep it on a little less : a very active cat may require a little more ; and a lactating female's requirement may be as high as 125-150 kilocalories per 450g (1lb)of her body weight while feeding an average litter of four kittens.
Most cats seem to thrive best on two regular daily meals, but old cats may need smaller meals at more frequent intervals, rather like young kittens. In some cases, old cats with kidney disease or constipation may require special diets and veterinary advice should be sought. There may be a tendency for neutered animals to put on excess weight with age, but this should be controlled with a little adjustment to their diet. You should cut out all cereals and feed good quality, high-protein, low-fat meals in small quantities. Your cat's general appearance will tell you whether or not you are feeding it correctly. An obese cat is obviously having too much food, while a teen cat is either having too little food or is suffering from internal parasites or a disease. The signs that a cat's diet is lacking in certain nutrients include a dry, scurfy coat, a warm, dry nose, dull eyes, flaking claws, offensive-smelling faces and bad breath.
Nutritional requirements for a healthy cat
For your cat to be really fit and healthy , you should ensure that it is fed a balanced diet that contains all the essential nutrients it needs.
At least 25 percent of an adult cat's diet should consist of protein :
35-40 percent if it is a breeding pedigree. Protein is found in muscle meat, fish, eggs and cheese. Cats must have some protein of animal origin. Unlike humans and, with care, dogs , they cannot maintain good health on a vegetarian diet. Cats that cannot digest milk may be able to cope with plain yoghurt.
Cats can digest a high proportion of fats in their diet; up to 25percent fat is recommended by feline nutritionists for young, growing cats. Fats provide concentrated forms of energy and certain fatty acids which promote healthy skin and coats. Fat also contain fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. Fats are present in some meat, butter and cooking oils.
Cooked grains and pulses are sometimes fed to cats in order to bulk out a protein-rich diet, but they are not necessary for a cat's well-being.
Vitamins and minerals
Cats that are fed a varied , well-balanced diet will obtain all the valuable vitamins and minerals they require. Vitamin/mineral supplements should not be given to your cat without seeking veterinary advice first.
Vitamin A A cat's requirement for this vitamin can be supplied by feeding a good general diet and adding 28g (1oz) of lightly cooked liver on day a week. Too much vitamin A can be dangerous, leading to the laying down of excess bone in the spine and joints