Cats are independent by nature, but domestic cats or farm cats still need human assistance to take care of themselves. So, feeding is the most important thing because unlike other animals in Felidae family (wildcat, tiger, cougar, etc.), which cats belong to, house cats or farm cats cannot find food entirely themselves (unless they sneak into your food on the table) by hunting small animals such as mice, squirrels, and birds. Even feral cats (also known as community cats) need to be fed by humans.
In this article, we discuss;
- What to feed cats
- What is the well-balanced diet for cats
- How much to feed the cat and how often to feed
What to Feed Cats?Cats need animal-based protein. Cat diet should include sufficient amounts of;
- Protein from meat or fish
- Amino acids (taurine and arginine)
- Fatty acids
A small number of carbs can be included, but not necessary for your cat’s diet. If your cat is very active, you can give a modest amount of carbs to provide enough energy.
Cat is a carnivorous mammal by Mother Nature. As an “obligate carnivores,” felines should hunt other animals for their nutrition. Since house cats cannot feed themselves, you have to give them a protein-based diet. We recommend giving your cat a well-balanced commercial canned food or a house-made diet. You can easily find canned cat food in any discount store or pet markets, or you can cook meals at home for your feline. Once in a while, you can give human food like bread, rice or a small piece of meat but giving too much will make your cat unhealthy.
According to PETMD, taurine is required in the cat’s diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid for the cat’s vision, digestion, heart health, and reproduction. Most mammals produce taurine in the body but cats cannot produce sufficient amounts, and they have to acquire taurine from food. Chicken, egg, and fish are primary sources of this amino acid.
So, you can feeding cats with the following things.Protein-base
- Skinless cooked chicken
- Cooked eggs
- Canned or boiled fish (small fish)
Keep in mind that tuna or salmon would not be a good choice for cats. According to WebMD Pet, cats can get mercury poisoning if they eat too much tuna.Vegetables
- Cooked or steamed carrots, broccoli, green beans, etc.
- Boiled pumpkin or squash
- Fresh cucumbers (cut into small pieces)
- Apples (peeled)
- Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.)
Pet nutritionists do not recommend giving grapes or raisins to cats because they cause kidney failure in cats.Grains (Very small amount)
- Cooked corn or Polenta (boiled cornmeal)
- Brown rice
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Dairy products (because most cats are lactose-tolerant)
- Dog food
- Nuts (not recommended)
- Food that contains caffeine
- Raw eggs
- Excessive raw meat or fish
- Meat bones
What is the Well-balanced Diet for Cats?
Many cat owners worry too much about the balanced-diet for cats. A cat’s diet depends on a few things. Based on the life stage and activity level of your cat, you need to find a properly balanced diet. As we mentioned above, a meal includes protein-based and some vegetables would be a well-balanced cat diet; and add a small portion of grains if your cat is active. You don’t have to do that for every meal and try to do that often.
If you give canned cat food, read the cat food labels carefully for nutrition facts before buying them. The label should state that the product will serve as a complete and balanced meal for your cat's particular life stage. Keep in mind that cat food is different from kitten food. Never buy cat food for a kitten, and vice versa.
Focus on nutrients, not ingredients. Don’t be fooled by words like “Premium” or “Ultra-premium.” FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) does not require pet food to be made any better ingredients because of using those catchy words. By the way, if you did not know, FDA highly regulates pet food the same as human food. The only difference is pet food products are not required to get pre-market approval by the FDA. However, the ingredients used in pet food should be safe and have proper function.
Canned or Homemade Food?
Many cat owners in developed countries buy canned food for cats. It’s easy for many people due to time constraints. As we mentioned earlier, make sure the canned food has the balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that your veterinarian recommends.
A homemade cat food diet can work as long as you consult a veterinarian-nutritionist before moving forward. Whether you’re going to try cooked or raw meat diet for your cat, make sure you consult with your vet. Don’t jump into it without doing your homework. Many veterinary-nutritionists recommend against homemade cat food, but we never had a problem with giving homemade food to our cats. We simply boil some fish with rice, and they love it! We avoid giving them chicken or other meat. Just fish working well for them and they are in pretty good shape. We have seen when we travel to Mexico and Latin American countries, people just feed cats with soup with tortillas. They make the soup with chicken bones and remove the bones before feeding the cat. Interesting! Isn’t it? Well, we’re not pet nutritionists. So, don’t try to do what we do.
Wet or Dry Cat Food?
Some cat owners like to give dry food because it’s more economical and convenient. Some owners like a combination of wet and dry food. Wet food is more expensive, can spoil easily, and requires refrigeration after opening. You can feed your cat more of wet food regularly. Always giving dry cat food is not the best choice for your feline. Dry food contains more carbs, which can cause obesity, diabetes, urinary or kidney issues, and diarrhea. We recommend feeding cats with a combination of wet food and dry food.
Then, how much to feed a cat wet food? How much to feed dry food? Well, feeding of cat more wet food is ideal because high moisture in wet food is beneficial if your cat has urinary or kidney problems. However, according to the Vice President of Shelter Medicine Services at ASPCA Dr. Stephanie Janeczko (DVM), there’s no definitive answer for either wet or dry cat food is better than the other. It might depend on what your cat likes to eat but always consult with your veterinarian. That’s very important.
How Much to Feed Cat and How Often to Feed?
Here’s a quick cat fact. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55% of cats in the US are obese or overweight. Isn’t that insane? Cats have also become more like humans. Actually, we have made them become more like humans. Just like people make mistakes feeding themselves, they pass on the same mistake to cats. If the cats can speak, they would tell their food problems. You wouldn’t know what went wrong until your cat is sick.
So, you may ask, “How much should I be feeding my cat?” Always consult with your veterinarian regarding the amounts of calories your cat needs depending on the life stage and activity level of your cat. So, based on your veterinarian’s recommendation, divide the number of calories by the calorie content per serving. If you’re giving commercial cat food, read the nutrition fact label and determine the calories per serving.
For example, let’s assume your veterinarian recommended 200 calories per day for your cat. If a canned cat food provides 65 calories per can, then you need to feed 3 cans per day; one each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
200/65 = 3
It’s as simple as that but if you’re not home to do that on time, it may not be practical. That’s when technology comes in handy. You can get an automatic pet feeder to schedule the meal times and amount. However, if you give homemade food to your kitty cat, calculating the number of servings can be challenging. Don’t stress out too much about that. Only thing is, make sure you don’t do free-feeding instead of meal feeding. Many cat owners leave out a large amount of cat food for the cats so that they can eat throughout the day. Well, that makes your cat obese.
So, we hope this article was helpful for you to get a really good grasp on feeding cats. Do you follow what veterinarians and pet experts suggest? Or do you have your own method of feeding cats? Comment below how you feed your cat.
Cat Feeding FAQ
What to feed cats?
Cats are obligate carnivores. Therefore, you need to provide them an animal-based diet. The meal should include protein from meat or fish, Amino acids (taurine and arginine), Fatty acids, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water.
What can cats eat?
Canned or dry cat food, skinless chicken, cooked eggs, vegetables such as peas, cooked or steamed carrots, broccoli, and green beans, fruits like bananas, blueberries, apples, grains like cooked corn or polenta, brown rice, barley, couscous, oatmeal.
What can't cats eat?
Dairy products, dog food, candy, gum, nuts, onion, garlic, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, raw eggs, raw meat or fish, meat fat, and meat bones.
How much to feed a cat?
It depends on the life stage and activity level of your cat. Always consult with your veterinarian regarding the amounts of calories your cat needs. Divide the number of calories by the calorie content per serving of cat food based on your veterinarian’s recommendation.
How often to feed a cat?
According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, you should feed kittens 3 times a day (up to 6 months of age) because they require more food to support their growth. Once your cat becomes an adult, most cats do well with two meals a day. However, if your cat has health problems, consult a veterinarian.
Can a cat eat chocolate?
No. Chocolate is known to be poisonous to cats and dogs because of the toxin agent theobromine. It can cause abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and even death. So, never give chocolate to your cat.
Can a cat eat dog food?
No. Cats cannot survive on dog food. A cat’s body does not function in the same way as dogs. Dog food does not contain taurine, which is an essential amino acid for the cat’s vision, digestion, heart health, and reproduction.
Can a cat eat bananas?
Yes. It’s ok to feed cat bananas. According to ACPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), bananas are classified as non-toxic to cats. Your cat would love frozen banana smoothie.
Can a cat eat apples?
Yes. Make sure you remove the seeds and peel the apples before feeding the cat. ACPCA classifies apple as a toxic plant to cats because of the stems, leaves, and seeds. But feeding properly prepared pieces of apples is not harmful to your cat.
Can a cat eat corn?
Yes. Cooked corn or Polenta (boiled cornmeal) is a good source of carbohydrate for your cat if he or she is very active.
Is tuna good for cats?
A very small amount of tuna would not be harmful to your cat. However, WebMD Pet warns that cats can get mercury poisoning if they eat too much tuna.