Cat Healthy Protocols

04- The Nutritional Assessment

A nutritional assessment should be performed for every cat at every visit. Key information to gather includes the type of food, the brand, the amount fed, the frequency of feeding, and the amount actually eaten, as well as type and amounts of any supplements or treats provided. This information is helpful in determining how appropriate the nutritional plan is for this cat’s life stage, health conditions, body, weight and muscle condition. Having reception staff prepare the client in advance by asking them to bring this information with them, (e.g., taking photos of the products fed, the bowl size), can save time and provide a more accurate assessment. Similarly, designating a staff member can make a follow-up phone call after the visit to collect any missing details.

At every appointment, review and repeat the nutritional assessment and make a recommendation that includes a specific diet, the amount to be fed (by volume or weight), as well as frequency of feeding. Table 1 provides information on recommended daily caloric intake for cats. Record this information in the medical record and communicate it to the client both verbally as well as in written form.

Table 1: Resting Energy Requirements (RER) for Ideal Body Weight

For body condition score 2.5/5 to 3.5/5 or 5/9

Body weight (lbs) Body weight (kg) Kcal/day
1 0.45 39
2 0.91 65
3 1.36 88
4 1.82 110
5 2.27 130
6 2.73 149
7 3.18 167
8 3.64 184
9 4.09 201
10 4.55 218
15 6.82 295
20 9.09 366
25 11.36 433

Maintenance DER (Kcal/day):
Normal, neutered adult = 1.2 x RER
Intact adult = 1.4 x RER
Obese prone adult = 1.0 x RER
For weight loss in adults = 0.8 x RER
Growing kittens = 2.5 x RER

RER = Resting Energy Requirement: the energy required for a normal individual at rest in a thermoneutral environment based on body weight.
DER = Daily Energy Requirement: the average daily energy expenditure of an animal dependent on life stage and activity (work, lactation, gestation, growth).

Healthy Body Weight and Obesity Prevention

Food Choices, Nutritional Information, and Weight Gain

Feeding Management

The domestic cat is anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating as many as 10-20 small meals (a reflection of their natural hunting behaviour) throughout the day and night. Feeding twice daily or having a bowl that is never empty are not “natural” ways for cats to eat. Having opportunities to express hunting behaviour is a basic need for cats. Allowing cats to ‘hunt’ for their food, or using a feeding device, are mentally stimulating activities. Examples of feeding devices are found under Resources.

Under stressful situations, many cats will refuse a novel food. Under other circumstances, the same cat may be adventuresome and choose a new diet over a familiar food. A new diet is more likely to be accepted if it is offered at home rather than in the clinic setting. Changing diets can be challenging; tips on transitioning to new diets can be found in the brochure from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, A Simple Guide to Feeding Your Cat (see Resources).

After changing diets, a recheck appointment is needed (similar to rechecking after any other medical recommendation) to assess how this particular individual is responding to the recommended diet. In essence, when a new diet is recommended, you are performing a nutritional study of involving one cat!


Hill’s Pet Nutrition – A Simple Guide to Feeding Your Cat:

World Small Animal Veterinary Association:

Hill’s Healthy Weight Protocol – Body fat index and morphometric measurements:

World Small Animal Veterinary Association – Global Nutrition Toolkit:

  • Body condition score chart for cats
  • Muscle condition score chart for cats
  • Calorie needs for cats
  • Short diet history form
  • Nutritional assessment checklist

Pet Nutrition Alliance:

AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats:

Look for these food puzzles or toys at your local pet supply store:

  • NoBowl Feeding System
  • Multivet Slim Cat Toy Ball and Food Dispenser
  • Cat Activity Fun Board (Trixie Pet Products)
  • Go! Cat! Go! Play-N-Treat Balls
  • FUNkitty Egg-Cersizer Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser
  • Aikiou Stimulo Cat Interactive Feeder
  • Catit Design Senses Treat and Food Maze