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Old 02-02-2012, 06:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Grain Free vs Grain? Kitten vs Adult?

Just curious what your experiences are with feeding a grain free cat food vs cat food with grain? And what about kitten food vs adult cat?

I am very comfortable with my dog eating Taste of the Wild grain free kibble and would like to know if anyone has fed something similar (for cats) to their hedgehogs?

Also, another quick question, does it need to be a mix? Why exactly a mix...just for variety? Or what health benefits does it play to have several mixes of kibble.
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Old 02-02-2012, 06:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Grain Free vs Grain? Kitten vs Adult?

While grain free would be great to offer to hedgies...it's usually not an option as far as cat foods go. Grain free cat foods have high protein, definitely above 35%. Dog foods might be a possibility (I'm looking at my dog's food, Natural Balance sweet potato & fish, right now, and it has 21% protein, but is grain free), but those will need to be broken up to make them easier for your hedgie to eat. That'd make it hard to count kibble as well, so the best way to keep track of the amount of food eaten would be through weighing the broken up kibble before/after eating.

As far as adult versus kitten, that largely depends on the hedgie. There's some people who have runner hedgies that go for miles on their wheels at night and have a hard time keeping weight on. Kitten foods, with their higher fat, are good and even necessary for those hedgies, to help them stay at a healthy weight. But if you have a regular hog or a lazy one, kitten would have way too much fat in it, and they'd get overweight pretty quickly.

Mixes are generally recommended for a couple reasons. First, like you said, variety. I always liked the idea of giving Lily a few flavors to choose from, though lamb seemed to be her favorite. Variety also helps cover a few different protein sources, which can have different nutrients, and because we don't know the exact nutritional requirements for hedgehogs, feeding a couple different foods with different ingredients might help us cover more bases for getting them everything they need. Another big reason for offering a mix is because food companies will often change the formula or appearance of their kibble without saying anything about it on the bag. Hedgies can be picky though, and if one food suddenly changes and they refuse to touch it, if you have at least two different ones you feed them, at least you have one familiar food for them to eat. Then you don't have to worry about a hunger strike, trying to get them to eat, syringe feeding, or any of those issues.
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Grain Free vs Grain? Kitten vs Adult?

Your last paragraph definietly cleared up the whole "mixing the food" thing for me. Thank you so much for your reply!

Hedgehogs are free fed, correct? Typically always keep their little bowls full?
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Old 02-03-2012, 04:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Grain Free vs Grain? Kitten vs Adult?

Free feeding vs. kibble counting

Some of us offer a certain weight/amount of kibble... like 2 tablespoons or 15 grams. Some people keep the bowl full at all times. And others (like me) get an idea of how much their hog eats in a night and offers a few extra, to keep track of exactly how much they're eating. Many times, decreased food intake can be the first sign of sickness, so in my eyes, it's proactive. I'll give you advice for if you decide to go the kibble-counting route.

I started off giving my hedgie 100 kibbles of her food mix before her cage light turned off. The next morning, she had around 30 kibbles left, meaning she ate about 70. So that night, I gave her 80 kibbles instead of 100. The next morning, she had 2 kibbles left, meaning she ate 78. That night, I gave her 84 kibbles. I played around with the number of kibbles I gave her each day for a week or so until I found that on average, she ate about 75 kibbles a night. If you do this, you should make sure that you always put a few extra kibble in the bowl in case they have an extra hungry night. So if your hog eats about 75 kibbles on average, you should offer 80 or so. I recorded all of this in a little planner, along with when she gets her nails clipped, her daily weight, when she gets full baths, vet visits, when I start feeding a new type of kibble, etc.

The amount that hedgies eat will usually decrease as they get older and their growing tapers off so you may have to play with the numbers if you count kibble.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Grain Free vs Grain? Kitten vs Adult?

Most hedgehogs should be free fed. Most will not over eat. Occasionally you get one that you have to do things a little differently, but not often.

I don't count kibble. I feed Halo & Fromm products and the kibble is small. With having more than one hedgehog, I'll be honest, I'm lazy and prefer to not count kibble for a healthy hedgehog. For one that is size, yes I count. But with my healthy ones I just figure out how much they eat daily and provide just a little extra. If the bowl is ever empty, I add more. If the hedgehog is shy, won't eat during the day and emptied their bowl during the night; I put the bowl in the bed with them so that they can eat in bed.

With mine. My 290 gram gal gets 10 grams of food my 560 gram gal gets 15 grams. They eat all but 1-2 grams each night. In addition to kibble they also get fruit or vegetables and 5 mealworms nightly. The 560 gram gal is 7 months old, when she was growing, there were times she was eating 22 grams of food nightly. Her appetite has greatly decreased since then though...
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Grain Free vs Grain? Kitten vs Adult?

Oh one more note, there are a couple of grain free foods that are close to the appropriate range for a hedgehog, when mixed with other foods they will fit in.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Weight Control 36 12
Natural Balance Green Pea & Duck 30 12
Now! Weight Manage 30 14

The Blue buffalo has a slightly high protein content, but it also has an 8% fiber content, and if mixed with another food it would be fine.

If you are feeding a baby or have a highly active hedgehog and need a little higher fat content, it opens up the following:
Halo Spot's Stew Dry- Cat Grain-Free Chicken recipe 33 18
Pure Vita Grain Free Chicken Entree 32 18

Now there may be other foods, but these are just a couple that I have in a large spreadsheet I keep of foods. I haven't tied all of these, some I have and some are hits with the hedgehogs. Others are used by others on this site.
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