The hunger of cats is subject to some fluctuations during the year. These are usually normal and due to the different energy requirements.
Cat owners are always faced with the question of when they should adjust feeding to the appetite of the velvet paws and when they are doing their animal more harm than good. That overweight is unhealthy and brings a whole set of risks with itself, is finally generally well-known.
We’ll show you here which factors you should make the frequency and quantity of feeding dependent on, how your cat’s hunger changes and which tips help with weight control.
In this article, you will learn how your cat’s hunger changes throughout the seasons and why these fluctuations occur. We’ll also show you if you should really feed more in the fall and winter, or if a fixed schedule is a better choice. With additional feeding tricks, you can continue to positively influence your pet’s health.
Are cats hungrier in the fall?
Maybe you know the phenomenon: as soon as the days get a little shorter, your cat asks for food more often.
This is perfectly normal and no reason to worry. Evolutionarily, the body prepares for the cold season. During this time, cats are confronted with some challenges:
In order to maintain a healthy and safe body temperature, the body must burn more energy. The basal metabolic rate increases.
In addition, already at the end of summer and in autumn it is necessary to adapt the coat to the minus degrees. This change of coat also consumes calories.
Lack of food
While in spring and summer mice, rats and birds as well as their numerous offspring are a found food for cats and sometimes even fall out of the nest, hunting becomes much more difficult in autumn and winter.
Fewer prey animals can be found. Cats prepare for this problem by acquiring a layer of fat. They therefore eat as much as they can get, building up an important reserve for barren times.
This layer also serves as insulation against the cold.
Due to the unfavorable circumstances in terms of food, cats enter into tougher competition.
Here it is quite clear that the stronger wins. Thus, animals must protect themselves from potentially hostile conspecifics as well as larger predators through muscle mass, fat, and larger energy stores.
Of course, all these points do not apply if your cat lives exclusively indoors. However, they are genetically designed to follow these instincts.
Are cats hungrier in winter?
Yes, even in winter the increased appetite continues.
The colder it is, the greater the hunger.
This is logical because cats burn significantly more energy just to maintain their body temperature.
Even a thick and dense coat and an already existing layer of fat can only protect them from getting cold to a limited extent.
Perhaps you have already noticed in the fall or in many years of cat ownership that cats eat more and less depending on the length and severity of the upcoming winter.
If there will be extreme minus temperatures for a long time, they seem to lose their sense of satiety.
On the other hand, if the winter will be short or very mild, there will be little difference in terms of appetite.
Feeding your cat correctly in autumn and winter
In order to properly adjust the feeding of your cat, a clear distinction must be made between outdoor cats and indoor cats.
If your cat stays outside even in sub-zero temperatures, it has a significantly higher consumption.
Purely residential cats have this only conditionally. In addition, they have another special feature.
So let’s see what factors play a role.
Feeding outdoor cats properly
If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors and even sub-zero temperatures don’t stop her, she needs plenty of energy.
So give her as many meals as she wants in the fall and winter and increase the portion size. Make sure that the food and water are protected and do not freeze.
Offer your cat a likewise protected and frost-free area to rest and sleep, if she can’t get indoors by herself at any time.
Feeding indoor cats
Do your cats live exclusively in the house or apartment? Then there are some peculiarities in autumn and winter.
For one thing, your pets will be hungrier, just like their outdoor counterparts. They are genetically programmed to gain “winter fat”, although they do not need it for survival.
Secondly, cats are often much quieter in winter. They have to save their strength and energy.
With apartment cats the following problem arises from this:
They want to eat more, although they do not have an increased need. Their need decreases because they move less.
If you feed larger portions more often until your cats are full, obesity is a real risk.
If you don’t adjust feeding, you’ll have permanently hungry cats. This can be an extremely stressful condition for all the housemates.
A much better solution is the following combination:
Offer food that is high in water and fiber, avoid dry food, and increase activity.
This will allow you to feed larger portions without increasing energy intake.
Extra tips: With heating costs on the rise, houses and apartments are often colder in the winter. The needs of your cat can therefore be increased even with pure indoor housing.
A little more food therefore does not hurt.
In addition, it is not dramatic or even dangerous if your velvet paw gains some weight in winter.
As long as she loses it again in the spring, this simply corresponds to the natural and seasonal fluctuation – a reason for concern is not.
And action: incorporate more movement while eating.
Cats are especially cuddly and in need of rest in the winter. This makes sense for outdoor cats, as it helps them conserve much-needed energy.
However, they still have to hunt, keep their body temperature high and brave the weather or even enemies.
With apartment cats it behaves again somewhat differently. They are also more tired and prefer to sleep or snooze instead of playing wildly.
In doing so, they not only consume less energy, but also lose muscle mass. This reduces consumption and the stability of the musculoskeletal system suffers.
You should specifically counteract this.
Make your cat work a little for its food!
Treats are no longer simply given out of the hand. Throw them one by one across the apartment and let the velvet paws capture them. The race has an activating effect.
Build climbing towers out of cardboard boxes. If cats could declare one object the love of their life, it would probably be a cardboard box. Take advantage of this inclination and create toys and employment opportunities for them out of it. Sprinkle in a few treats to further motivate them to explore.
Practice tricks. Whether it’s “come,” roll over, or jump up when you point your finger, tricks and commands help keep your cats animated. Build in a little learning session before each feeding and use a few pieces of wet food instead of other rewards, and you can subtract them directly from the portion.
Of course, you shouldn’t jerk your cat out of a deep sleep to get her to burn some calories. However, if she’s calling in because she’s hungry, that’s the ideal time for a little action.
Are cats less hungry in the summer?
Yes, cats’ appetites have been shown to decrease in the summer. They don’t need fat deposits for insulation and use less energy to maintain body temperature.
However, you should pay attention to one important factor: hydration.
What do cats eat in the heat?
For sure you know the summer phenomenon from yourself: At 30 degrees in the shade, few people feel like a hearty roast pork with red cabbage and dumplings.
Instead, your appetite tends towards fresh salad and ice cream.
Cats are no different. They prefer small, light and fresh meals.
Therefore, offer mini portions of wet food or barf several times a day. This is a great way to keep your cat hydrated.
Increase fluid intake in summer
Many cats are notoriously poor drinkers and need to be reminded to drink water.
Especially in the summer, this can be problematic and lead to dehydration. The following tips can help you avoid such a dangerous condition:
use a cat fountain: Many velvet paws like running water much better and at least wet their tongues with it.
use wet food: the higher water content is healthier. If your cat drinks very poorly, you can mix wet food and a little water to make a liquid porridge. This is also ideal if your cat has no teeth left.
Choose high-sauce food or cat drinks: If your cat eats very poorly in the summer, the sauce can stimulate the appetite and offers at least some nutrients and calories.
Flavor the water: a blob of plain yogurt, cream cheese, broth or liverwurst dissolved in water can significantly increase the amount your cat drinks.
Experiment with the different options to find the right method for your pets.
The hunger of cats during the year
Having more or less appetite throughout the year is normal, healthy, and serves to maintain health, at least for outdoor cats.
So if your cat is a little thinner in the summer and gains a little weight in the winter, it’s just a sign that he’s doing well and is healthy.
Only extremes you should avoid and understand as a warning sign. Permanent overweight is just as alarming as severe underweight and therefore in both cases an urgent reason for a visit to the vet.
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