They say 'we are what we eat', and this has never been more true for cats. Before you choose a diet according to your cat's age, it is essential to know a cat's basic nutritional needs, irrespective of their age. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they derive most of their nutrition from different kinds of meat. In fact, they prefer getting their source of hydration from their food as well. So, when fed homemade diets with little to no protein (milk, bread, rice etc.), it adversely affects their health in the long run. You may not notice it now, but feeding cats homemade diets, i.e. food that isn't biologically appropriate nor nutritionally balanced, can predispose them to cardiovascular, neurological, skeletal, and muscular problems as they enter old age. Moreover, feeding kittens a homemade diet results in nutritional deficiency, which then translates to developmental issues. Cats need protein from meat, poultry, and fish; an essential amino acid called Taurine; vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids; and water. They don't need large amounts of carbohydrates like in homemade diets - corn, wheat, rice, soy aren't necessary nor healthy to a cat's digestive system.

Let's look at why it is important to feed your cat food appropriate for their age

Kittens

Right Food for Kittens - PetSutra

A kitten triples in weight during his first few weeks. This spur in growth requires your kitten to have triple the amount of energy of an adult cat. According to Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, "These high energy needs make it harder for kittens to get enough calories in one meal. So most kittens want to eat at least three or four meals a day. It's also a comfort thing -- kittens are snackers at heart." There are some nutrients like fat, vitamins, and fatty acids that are relatively the same for both kittens and adult cats, but kittens need a higher proportion of protein, minerals, and amino acids - they need 30% of their energy from a protein source. This is one of the primary reasons veterinarians recommend feeding a kitten 'kitten food' until they turn a year old. Another tried-and-tested method by many cat parents to get kittens to drink water is feeding them scrumptious wet kitten food once or twice a day, i.e. two of their four meals or one and a half of their three meals. Kittens, like puppies, need several calories - since their stomachs are small, they need food that delivers huge amounts of calories in batches/portions. Kitten food is rich in fat, protein, and a fatty acid DHA. This fatty acid is essential for good retinal function and the development of the brain. They also contain calcium in price amounts which is required to support their growing bones. Always remember that kitten food is carefully formulated to meet growth requirements and support a healthy immune system, and it's not for nothing that they recommend 'kitten food' over 'cat food'. In other words, when you choose good-quality nutritionally balanced and biologically appropriate, it helps your kitten grow into strong, healthy adults.

Adult Cats

Adult Cat Food - PetSutra

Did you know - cats can live up to thirty years old if given the right amount of exercise (mental and physical) and the right type of food. Thirty years! That's a whole lotta time for unconditional love, right? Choosing the right type of food for your adult cat is a life-and-death situation - it determines the healthy years your cat can live, and all of us want our cats around to show us who's boss. Some cat parents, in an attempt to reduce expenses, buy cheap cat food, i.e., not wholesome or biologically appropriate - this does more harm than good because they end up paying more at the vet's clinic when their fur buddy is battling something that is an indirect or direct result of cat food quality. Cats until they get all the nutrients required for their body - if you buy low-quality cat food, your cat ends up eating twice as much because of all the carbohydrate fillers added to the food. Furthermore, over the years of feeding substandard cat food can cost cat parents a fortune at the veterinary clinic. Overwhelmed? Don't be. Picking the right cat food for your cat starts and ends with you knowing what to look for on the label - look for words like 'complete and balanced', 'chicken', 'fish', 'lamb' etc. Don't go for brands that just list 'meat' as a protein source or ones that contain harmful chemical preservatives like BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate, and BHA.

Senior Cats

Don't we all want to age well? As our cats grow older, we begin to notice signs of the body and behavioural changes. Some cat parents notice that their cat eats less, vocalises more, or has trouble in mobility. Senior cats aren't able to walk as steadily, jump up on surfaces, or groom themselves as effortlessly as they once used to. This, coupled with slowing down of the immune and digestive systems, acts as a host to problems like osteoarthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and obesity. The only way we can help them age well is by giving them a diet meant for their age, i.e. a senior cat diet. A senior cat diet needs to have glucosamine, EPA/DHA, and chondroitin to help with mobility. To help with their digestive and immune system, senior cats need food that contains prebiotics and omega-3 fatty acids. For most senior cats who suffer from urinary problems, phosphorus must be removed from their diet to prevent renal disease. You can choose to feed your senior cat a wet food diet if chewing kibble is hard on their mouth; this also reduces the risk of developing kidney stones and keeps them hydrated.

Conclusion

When you feed your feline friends the right kind of food - wholesome, nutritionally balanced, and biologically appropriate, you reduce the risk of them developing health issues that might cost them and you a lifetime of happiness.