Understanding feline eating habits
Cats are carnivores, and as such eat meat as part of a well-balanced diet. Cats generally eat a mixture of wet and dry food, and will always need access to fresh water. Adults cats will generally eat two to three portion-controlled meals a day, while young cats and kittens may eat a little more often but have smaller portion sizes.
Cats are natural grazers, and because of this, they would prefer little meals more frequently, though as long as they know there is always food coming they will be happy enough. Senior cats will need to follow different nutritional guidelines, like having easily digestible fats and proteins.
The most important thing is that your cat gets a balanced diet that is nutritionally complete, no matter if it’s wet or dry food.
What my cat needs
- Fresh water at all times
- Different water sources to promote drinking
- A nutritionally complete diet (we feed Burns food to all our animals)
- Dry food helps keep a cat’s teeth in good condition
- Wet food can be a good alternative to a dry food diet – the texture, taste and variety will be appealing, and wet food adds water into a cat’s diet if they do not drink freely
- Food enrichment and puzzle feeders can help slow cats that eat rapidly, whilst providing a fun, brain-training game to play. (link to cat food enrichment)
What my cat should avoid
- Milk – never give your cat milk
- Vegan and vegetarian diets – these lack taurine, a key amino acid that is vital to a cat’s development and fat metabolism
- Poor quality grains in food
- Too many additives in food
- Never feed dog food to your cat
- Antifreeze – this chemical is very appealing to cats, but can be fatal if ingested
- Certain plants are highly toxic to cats, such as lilies and daffodils
If you want to change your cat’s diet you should do so gradually, by mixing a little of the new food in with the old food and weaning your cat onto the new diet over the course of a week. There are so many cat foods out there to try, so be sure to give your cat the best quality diet you can.
It can be very stressful when a new cat arrives home so don’t worry if they have an upset tummy for the first few days after arrival. Just be mindful that if things haven’t gone back to normal after three to four days, it would be worth a trip to your vet where they may prescribe some bland food or medication. Always keep an eye out for any blood in your cats faeces as this could be an indicator of ill health in general.
Obesity is a huge problem in the cat world and it is commonly us as owners that are proving to be the root cause of the problem. Unwittingly, we are potentially killing our cats with kindness and can be the direct reason that our cat’s contract secondary illnesses like diabetes.
The PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers Association) have guidelines on what is a healthy weight for your cat with their ‘Cat Size-O-Meter’. Your vet will also be able to guide you about all things dietary too. Similarly, if a cat suddenly increases or loses weight it is always best to consult a vet. Your cat may just need a dietary adjustment, but this could also be a sign of something more serious.
It is important to ensure that our pets maintain a healthy weight, and it's up to us as owners to manage their diets and thus overall health.
Treats should only be given every so often, but they can be helpful when getting your cat into a carrier or rewarding them for good behaviour changes. Fresh food is sometimes a better treat to offer, though this can give your cat a taste for only freshly prepared diets, meaning you’ll have wasted your money on the tinned food you just bought as well as making them even fussier when it comes to what they’ll eat.