What to feed your cat

Feeding your cat a well-balanced diet can give them a long and happy life.

There are so many diets available it can be confusing to pick one, and have confidence you’re doing your best by your cat.

Be careful changing their food

When you first get a new cat you should always try to keep them on the diet they’re used to. If you decide to change your cat’s diet for any reason then this should always be modified gradually, by adding a little more new food each day and decreasing the one that is being replaced. If your cat suffers from a sensitive stomach or regular episodes of vomiting then consult a vet for advice on feeding.

Think about their stage of life

You should always try to keep your cat on a good quality, life stage diet. There are a range of dry and wet diets available, made by hundreds of different manufacturers.

Kittens should be fed three to four small meals throughout the day. Kitten food is available to buy in dry and wet versions, it will give all the extra nutrients for growth that are required. The biggest range of cat food is aimed at the fully grown adult cat. They come in all different varieties and should provide a balanced diet to maintain good health. Older cats should ideally be fed on a senior diet which contains extra nutrients for an ageing cat.

Specially tailored diets

Some larger cat food manufacturers produce a wide range of diets, so you can be more specific than just the age. You can get food for particular breeds of cats, indoor cats, neutered cats and dental or hairball diets. It’s your choice whether you want to feed your cat a specially tailored diet and whether to pick a wet food, dry food or mixture of both. As long as the diet provides complete nourishment for your cat, then let them decide what they like best.

Wet food

Wet food should always be stored appropriately and replaced regularly, especially in hot weather. Some wet foods are advised by a vet for particular medical conditions, such as kidney disease or urinary problems. Only use these or change to a different diet at the request of your vet.

Dry food and biscuits

Biscuits provide a good opportunity to keep your cat’s teeth clean as they help chip the tartar and plaque off their teeth. Even still, it’s quite normal for your cat to require dental work by a vet at various points in its life, usually the latter years. If your cat has a sore mouth or is lacking in teeth then be careful when giving them a dry diet.

Foods to avoid

Many cats are lactose intolerant, so avoid giving them cow’s milk and provide fresh water at all times. Human food – including cheese, chocolate or eggs – should be avoided as treats, unless it is steamed white fish or chicken. Cat treats should be given in moderation or as a reward for positive behaviour.

Please also be aware that cats will eat grass and it does often make them sick, but this isn’t damaging to them and is a natural thing for them to do. You can purchase cat grass, but this will do exactly the same thing as them going outside and eating grass.

Hypoallergenic diets

There are now many hypoallergenic diets available to cat owners. This means they don’t contain ingredients that cats are commonly allergic to, or struggle to digest. It is advisable to go for a hypoallergenic diet if you can afford to do so.

Beware of owner appeal

Many cat foods are designed by companies to appeal to humans. They will often place vegetables in them, make them multi coloured or design them to look like our food. In reality this is done to attract us, rather than the need for the cat to have vegetables or fruit in its diet. Try to avoid products with unnecessary ingredients or lots of brightly coloured biscuits.

Avoid overfeeding your cat

Overfeeding cats is a very common problem, it causes obesity and it can have many related medical issues. If your cat is gaining or losing weight then please consult a vet for advice regarding diet.

Multi-cat feeding

If you have more than one cat, always feed them separately – even if they’re content eating together. This means each cat gets its time to eat in peace and you can also monitor who is eating what. Try to get a low sided bowl so your cat can eat comfortably, pressure on the whiskers can be an unpleasant sensation for a cat.

Make feeding time more stimulating

In the wild cats spend a large proportion of their time stalking, catching and eating their prey. In contrast, most domestic cats take two minutes to eat their food. You can make feeding more stimulating for your cat by doing the following:

  • Scatter feed the dry biscuits around the feeding area
  • Hide the food around in the house so your cat has to find each bit
  • Create forage boxes with shredded paper and dry food inside
  • Some cats enjoy retrieving food that an owner has thrown for the cat
  • Most pet shops sell feeder panels or treat balls that the cat has to manipulate in order to receive the food
  • Rubber Kongs can also be brought from pet shops which can have wet food placed inside
  • You could always make your own feeding toys – one of the most common is a triangle shape of toilet rolls stuck to a base, so your cat has to pull each individual treat out with their paw.

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