SPCA New Zealand
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What is the best way to feed your cat?

I have two cats, Bonnie and Clyde, and I recently read some new recommendations about how to best feed them, called the ‘Five a Day Felix Plan’. Can you please explain this feeding plan and why it is being recommended?

Thanks for this question! The ‘Five a Day Felix Plan’ is a new cat feeding plan that was developed by international cat care experts Dr Sarah Ellis and Dr Lizzie Rowe, working with The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair 2017. Most cats are currently just fed from a bowl; this does not encourage them to be active or give them any opportunity to interact with their environment or be mentally stimulated. Unfortunately, this means that cats tend to overeat, be bored and inactive, and become overweight. The idea of the feeding plan is to encourage cats to engage in activities which

mimic their natural behaviours, and contribute to cats being more active and mentally stimulated. The ‘Five a Day Felix Plan’ recommends that cats are given five or more small portions of food a day (they should still eat the amount recommended for their size and weight, but this should be divided up into five or more small portions). Ideally, these

food portions should be given to the cats using puzzle feeders (these can be home-made or purchased). The puzzle feeders should be rotated regularly so that the cats have different puzzles to work out and don’t get bored. The location of the cat’s food should also be changed regularly. You can create food ‘treasure hunts’ for your cats so that they climb, hunt, explore and discover their food each day, similar to what they would do if they were finding their food naturally. It is important that the cat has plenty of fresh water available all the time and that the cat’s behaviour and weight are monitored frequently. A regular weight check (for example, once a week) recording this, and monitoring for trends (weight gain or loss) can give you very important information about your cat’s health. It can also help you to make sure that your cat is being fed an appropriate amount and maintains a healthy weight. Changing the way we feed cats can enrich their lives (and ours!) and help to keep them more active, mentally stimulated, and healthier.

Have you got a question you’d like Dr Sarah Zito to answer? Please email it to animalsvoice@spca.nz and it could be chosen for our next column.

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