What Should I Feed My Cat: Best Eating Practices

Posted: December 29, 2021 by Anita

what should i feed my cat
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According to the ASPCA, cats should “eat enough high-quality, nutritious food to meet their energy needs.” You can accomplish meeting your cat’s nutritional needs by feeding your cat a high protein, low carb diet. 

In this article, I discuss: what you should feed a cat (and not feed your cat.

  • what you should feed your cat (and not feed your cat
  • what foods can cats eat (human food)
  • how much you should feed your cat
  • how often you should feed your cat

What foods can cats eat?

Your cat is an obligate carnivore. Not sure what that means?

It means that your cat must eat meat. Cats can’t make amino acids and other essential vitamins on their own as humans do. So, they must get their amino acids and various crucial vitamins from meat.

In the wild, cats eat their prey, the whole thing, meat, bones, and organs. And depending on what their prey consumed, they might also eat a small number of vegetables.

What should I feed my cat

I have to admit to you that when I first became a cat owner – I never really gave a lot of thought to the importance of picking quality cat food.

It is important.

Your cat should be able to get whatever it needs nutritionally from the food it eats.

Key nutrients that your cat needs

The best food to feed cats should contain the following nutrients:

  • water
  • animal-based proteins (a lot of it)
  • amino acids, especially the essential ones such as taurine and lysine
  • fats and fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3
  • small amounts of carbohydrates that are high in fiber (for cats older than a year)
  • vitamins and minearal

In an article published by the Veterinary Sciences (2017), it was found that when cats were allowed to self-select, they chose a balanced diet that looked like the following:

  • 52% protein
  • 46% fat
  • 12% carbohydrates

Feeding your cat a combo of wet and dry isn’t a bad idea

Feeding your cat a combination of both wet and dry food will provide a great variety of nutritional benefits:

  • adds variety to your cat’s diet
  • wet cat food introduces plenty of moisture which is great
  • dry cat food helps with tartar control (dental)
  • adding wet food will keep your cat fuller for longer

Finding a healthy balance will keep your cat happy (hey, cats get bored with their food too).

My recommendation for great dry cat food (and Theo’s fav): Iams Proactive Healthy Adult Dry Cat Food

And the drum roll please….the search for wet food is over! Theo has chosen Fancy Feast Seafood Feast Pate as his first choice for wet cat food.

Finally (sigh).

what should I feed my cat

How much should I feed my cat

Underfeeding your cat can lead to severe issues, of which weight loss is one of them. Overfeeding, however, is a much more common issue when it comes to feeding our cats.

In the United States and Canada, approximately 60 percent of cats are overweight or obese. In the UK, obesity in cats is between 39 and 52 percent.

Diseases caused by obesity

Extra fat on your cat increases the likelihood of:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • arthritis
  • skin disease
  • heart problems
  • cancer
  • liver disease

As you can see, your cat being fat can lead to problems on all major organs in their little bodies. As cat owners, we must give cats a chance at a good healthy life by feeding them the proper amount.

What I should consider when figuring how much to feed my cat

Not all cats are the same. When trying to figure out how much your cat should eat, you must consider the following:

  • age – kittens need more to eat because they grow like little sprouts so they neeed extra nutrients and calories
  • spayed/neutered status – cats that are spayed/neutered need less calories. However, a pregant cat or one that is feeding kittens needs more calories – read bout lactating cat nutrition by reading my article, “What to feed a nursing mother cat”.
  • type of breed – bigger breeds need more calories than smaller breeds
  • activity level – an active cat burns more calories, a less active cat burns less

The above factors should be considered when determining how many calories your cat should eat every day.

How to calculate daily calories for your cat

Trust me when I tell you I wanted to break down formulas in this article and calculate the daily calories a cat should take into the nth power. However, I got a bit lost when tasked to calculate the nth power of the resting energy rate….blah, blah, blah.

So, instead, I copied this neat “how much to feed a cat” chart from Chewy.com.

what should I feed my cat
From Chewy.com

The chart above shows you how many calories you should be feeding your cat per day. The categories are broken down by weight and factors considered when determining the total amount of calories per day.

For example, if your cat is spayed or neutered and weighs 10 pounds, it should consume about 260 calories per day.

However, if your 10-pound cat is an inside cat that doesn’t get a lot of exercise, you might want to drop the calories down to 216 pounds to maintain its weight of 10 pounds.

If your cat is an overweight 10 pound Siamese cat in need of losing weight, then it should be eating 173 calories to drop down to a goal weight that is considered optimal for a siamese cat.

How often should you feed your cat

Cats will free-feed (constantly feeding themselves out of a full bowl of cat food) out of boredom. This type of approach to eating can lead to your cat becoming overweight.

Instead, feed your cat at least twice a day. Not sure how much to feed per meal? Just divide the number of total calories your cat should eat by half.

Studies have shown that cats that are fed smaller frequent meals have better urinary health and won’t feel the need to be greedy when it comes time to eat. So feel free to divide their total calorie intake for the day into 2, 3, or 4 meals – even 5.

Provide these frequent meals as part of an established routine at set times, daily. Your cat will love that they can count on a meal at a set time; especially on days where the household routine (a new pet, a new baby, an unexpected visitor) might be freaking out your cat a bit.

what should I feed my cat

What foods can cats not eat

Here is a list of five foods you shouldn’t feed your cat. Feeding your cat one of these foods can make him very sick and in some cases, lead to death.

  1. Milk or any dairy products – believe or not cats are lactose intolerant.
  2. Onions and garlic – contain thiosulphate which can cause anemia in your cat.
  3. Chocolate – is poisonous to cats and can kill.
  4. Raw meat – can contain bacteria (e. Coli) and parasites.  Cook the meat before feeding it to your cat.
  5. Tuna – occasional is okay, but too much can lead to mercury poisoning.

Cats with kidney disease

What can I feed my cat with kidney disease? Cats with kidney disease can benefit from canned food because of its contents contain more moisture than dry cat food. Keeping your cat hydrated is very important. So, give him plenty of water!

Be sure to consult your cat’s vet for suggestions on what to feed your cat. Chewy.com carries Hill’s Prescription Kidney Care for a great price. Click here for more information.

Conclusion

In this article, I discussed:

  • what you should feed your cat (and not feed your cat
  • what foods can cats eat (human food)
  • how much you should feed your cat
  • how often you should feed your cat

Your cat is an obligate carnivore. Not sure what that means?

It means that your cat must eat meat. Cats can’t make amino acids and other essential vitamins on their own as humans do. So, they must get their amino acids and various crucial vitamins from meat.

The following is also important nutrition for your cat:

  • water
  • animal-based proteins (a lot of it)
  • amino acids, especially the essential ones such as taurine and lysine
  • fats and fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3
  • small amounts of carbohydrates that are high in fiber (for cats older than a year)
  • vitamins and minearal

Cats will free-feed (constantly feeding themselves out of a full bowl of cat food) out of boredom. This type of approach to eating can lead to your cat becoming overweight.

Instead, feed your cat at least twice a day. Not sure how much to feed per meal? Just divide the number of total calories your cat should eat by half.

Be sure to consult your cat’s vet for suggestions on what to feed your cat.

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