Diet Tips For Cats
Feeding your feline a well balanced, tailored and complete diet is the secret to securing his happiness, longevity and overall wellbeing. And as a cat lover, what more could you want, eh? For ultimate paw-to-tail nourishment, you need to strike the correct balance between all the essential food groups: protein, fat, carbohydrates, water, minerals and vitamins. So, let’s paws fur thought: here’s everything you need to know about feeding your beloved furry companion.
Type of food
With so many cat food products and brands on the market, it can be difficult to know where to turn…especially if you’re trying to cater for a finicky feline (oh, the joys!) The good news is there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ food regimen. You can choose wet, dry or homemade food – no one variety trumps the next, per say. What you must ensure, however, is that your choice of food is suitable for your cat’s stage of life (kitten, adult or senior) and nutritionally balanced.
Water: your cat’s body is roughly 80% water, so proper hydration is a matter of great importance. Dry food contains 10% moisture, whereas canned food boasts 80% water content. Always provide kitty with plenty of fresh, clean water during meal times. Oh, and as for that saucer of milk – forget it. The notion that cats love milk is a common misconception, as they can’t digest it.
Protein: you only have to look at their teeth to understand cats are full-blown carnivores. Unlike dogs, felines can’t survive without meat, so don’t ever be tempted to put kitty on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Meat isn’t just a readily available source of protein needed for muscle growth and tissue repair, but it also provides three essential nutrients for optimal health: taurine (for vision and heart health), arachidonic acid (for skin and coat health), and vitamin A (for vision and coat). Chicken, lamb, beef, organ meat and fish are great sources.
Fats: essential fatty acids provide cats with ‘fuel’, alongside vital protection and insulation of internal organs. They’re also responsible for keeping your feline’s fur silky smooth and irresistibly huggable. Organs, meat and fish are top fat sources.
Carbohydrates: though carbs aren’t an essential part of kitty’s diet, they still provide a readily available source of energy. Better still, they promote optimal digestive health and normal intestinal function.
Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and copper are all essential for your cat’s teeth and bones. Balance is key here; too much or too little of one nutrient could have serious repercussions.
Vitamins: fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and water-soluble vitamins C and B complex promote normal vision, growth, wound healing, healthy coat and skin, and an optimal nervous system. What’s more, these compounds are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Many owners choose dry food for their four-pawed companions, and for good reason – kibble is convenient, economical, and offers comprehensive nutrient formulas, without the mess and that ‘delicious’ aroma of wet food. A word of warning though: if you’re going to buy dry food, avoid products with a high carbohydrate content because this isn’t healthy for your furry friends. And it may be an idea to add a cupful of water, or even offer a little water-rich wet food, cooked organ meat, or fish to your cat’s meal, since dry food only contains 10% moisture.
Thanks to its taste, palatability and aroma, most cats have a special soft spot for canned food. Not only that, wet food also has a high water content (80%, in fact), so it’s another useful way to keep your cat hydrated and trim. That said, canned food isn’t brilliant for your feline’s teeth. Over time, it can cause plaque to build on teeth, which may lead to gum disease. The solution? Feed your cats a mixture of both dry and wet food. Disclaimer: never leave canned food out for more than one hour, as it could attract bacteria and result in tummy upsets.
In light of the recent ‘clean eating’ craze that has swept across our nations, many owners now want to know exactly what they’re feeding their pets – and understandably so. It’s no lie that many commercial pet food products are highly refined and lack all the goodness your furry friend needs. In this context then, it’s not surprising that homemade cat food is so in vogue. Preparing your own pet food is pretty simple; you just need to ensure it’s well-balanced and complete, containing all the correct amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. To learn more about making your own cat food, check out our article on ‘Homemade Pet Food Recipes’.
Providing your cat with a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet will lay the groundwork for good health. But, in truth, commercial food alone can only achieve a certain level of ‘wellness’. If you want to step your cat’s health up a gear, you could think about supplements. A quality omega 3 supplement will support kitty’s skin, fur, eyes and joints; while a high strength multivitamin will give him all the essential micronutrients needed for all-around nourishment. Plus, all our pet supplements are so lip-smackingly tasty, your cat will eagerly gobble them up.
The amount of food your feline needs depends on his weight, age, breed and lifestyle. For instance, kittens will need more food relative to their weight because they’re still developing; whereas older cats will need less food due to their sedentary lifestyle. It’s important to closely monitor your cat’s body condition and weight. Ultimately, you want to be able to feel his ribs and spine ‘readily’, but you don’t want them to be overly prominent. You want him to have a waist too. To understand food quantities, guidelines on cat food packaging are usually a helpful place to start. If you need further clarification on amounts, don’t be shy to ask your vet.
Avoid leaving food out all day for your hungry feline, since this is a sure-fire gateway into weight issues. And obesity, as you’re probably aware, can trigger a host of health implications for your furry friend – think heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint problems. To prevent this, establish a set feeding routine and offer your cat smaller meals throughout the day. This way, you’ll be able to monitor exactly how much your four-pawed companion is eating. Remember, always provide access to clean, fresh drinking water at meal times too.
While doting owners think they’re showering their little fur balls with love, the truth is pampering pets with lavish treats will only contribute to their growing girth. With that in mind, reserve snacks for rewarding good behaviour and always offer them in moderation. Your furry friend’s diet should never consist of more than 10% treats. Small amounts of fish, liver or meat are all healthy options.
Foods to avoid
Cats are inquisitive creatures – and this curiosity can lead to them scavenging in areas they shouldn’t. Make sure your feline keeps his nosey nose far away from the following foods, as they could prove toxic if consumed. If you suspect your furry friend has consumed high quantities of the substance below, consult your vet immediately.
Grapes and raisins
Onions and garlic
- Constantly changing your cat’s diet could spark digestive problems. If you need to alter your little fur balls food regimen, introduce new products gradually.
Don’t place your cat’s food bowl near his litter tray; he will only turn his nose up at food near his toilet site (too right!)
Choose shallow, pottery food bowls – these are easy to clean and will prevent your cat from brushing their whiskers against the side of the bowl (his numero uno pet peeve!)
Always provide access to plenty of clean, fresh drinking water at meal times
If your cat’s eating and drinking habits change, talk to your vet, as this could signal illness.
To sum up
As an owner, you have a responsibility to feed your cat a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet – one that’s complete with the correct amounts of each food group. Neglect this duty, and your little fur ball will run into all sorts of health problems. Alongside feeding a healthy treat here, and adding a little variety to meals there, offering high-quality supplements will give you the peace of mind that your feline’s every need is being catered for.
Cats Protection. (2018). Feeding and obesity. Available online: https://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/cat-care-leaflets-2013/EG04_Feeding_and_obesity.pdf
PDSA. (2018). Your cat’s diet. Available online: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/kittens-cats/the-best-diet-for-your-cat
RSPCA. (2018). What is a healthy diet for a cat? Available online: https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/cats/diet