Feeding Your Cat: The Basics

Cat With FoodThe appetite of a cat ranges greatly from feline-to-feline; you may have a voracious eater, or a picky kitty. Some cat owners feed their furbabies regularly throughout the day, while others only feed their cats when they ask for a meal. Some cats eat whatever’s placed in front of them, while others can leave food mountain and only eat what they need. Regardless of your cat’s appetite, it is important to feed them right. Here, we’re going to talk about what a proper diet looks like for a cat and how you can give your kitty the best diet possible.

In general, you want your cat’s diet to be as close to what it would be if they were living in the wild. A cat in the wild would be active throughout the day and have to hunt for their food. This is why you want to think of your cat’s portion size in terms of the protein that a cat would naturally seek out; such as rodents and other vermin. The proper portion size for a housecat should be close to the weight of a mouse, or .6 to 1oz. You can get a sense for how much this is by simply weighing out your cat’s food once and remembering how much that looks like, or most cans declare how many ounces they contain.

It is important to keep your cat on a timely feeding schedule. Cats are creatures of habit, and they like to know when you’ll be feeding them. If you start feeding them when they beg, you’ll probably create some less-than-desirable behavioral habits. Cats take mental cues and remember your habits; this is why if your cat is used to being fed once you get out of the shower in the morning, you might get an earful if you take an evening shower. The sound of that water turning off signals to kitty that it’s time to eat. The best way to discourage begging is to feed your cat on a regular schedule. It is reasonable to feed your cat the mouse-sized portion size between 2-4 times per day.

Never feed your cat from the table, or they'll constantly beg for more

Never feed your cat from the table, or they’ll constantly beg for more

Another way to make sure that your cat is getting the best care possible is by feeding them the right stuff. A good food regimen can elongate your cat’s life and improve the quality of their health immensely. As of right now, veterinarians may have their own personal preferences, but the verdict is still undetermined as to whether wet food or dry food is better for cats. We suggest a mixed diet based mostly on dry food but with occasional wet food supplements. Wet food does tend to contain more moisture, fat, and protein; while dry food provides lots of calories in a smaller package, more carbohydrates, doesn’t spoil as quickly, and has been proven to help fight oral diseases.

When choosing your cat’s food, it is important to find food with the right balance of nutrients. Some of the most important things to pay attention to when selecting your cat’s food include:

Protein: Cats are essentially carnivores; therefore, they need lots of protein in their diet to feel healthy. Proteins help build cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and help with cell growth, maintenance, and repair. Chicken, turkey, beef, fish, and lamb all contain lots of proteins that your cat needs, so make sure that the first ingredient in your cat’s food is one of these meats.
Fat: If you think that a low-fat diet is automatically right for your cat, think again. Fats provide energy for your pet. Fats are a huge part of the structure of cells, and help to produce some essential hormones in cats. You want your cat’s diet to have a healthy amount of Linoleic acid, Arachidonic acid, Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids; all of which can be found in many proteins.
Carbohydrates: Cats don’t need a certain amount of carbohydrates each day, but they do need a good amount of glucose in their diet. Carbohydrates also include fiber, which contributes to the cat’s bacterial population in their small intestine.
Vitamins: Unless your veterinarian has told you to add vitamin supplements to your cat’s diet, it is unnecessary to add anything to your cat’s food. However, your cat’s food should contain small amounts of vitamin A and D.
Minerals: Minerals don’t contribute to your cat’s energy, but they do contribute to healthy bones, teeth, and metabolism.

Another important factor in your cat’s diet to keep in mind is how much water they’re getting. Cats are derived from a desert climate, and therefore don’t need copious amounts of water in their diets. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need any. Your cat should always have accessible water bowls on all levels of your home, if not in almost every room. This will prevent your cat from seeking out undesirable water sources, like the toilet, the sink, or your water cup. If your cat seems to not drink much water at all, you may want to consider implementing more wet food into your cat’s diet. Wet food contains a good amount of water, so your cat will have no choice but to get hydrated.

The final important factor in your cat’s diet is their level of exercise. It is important to keep your cat on their feet so that they’re burning calories as they’re taking them in. A cat in the wild would be constantly running and jumping, and your cat’s activity level doesn’t have to be compromised, even if they’re an indoor cat. There are many ways to exercise your cat, including:
Playful Kitten-Playing together with string toys: If you give your cat 20 minutes per day of interactive play, they’ll instantly be in better standing, health-wise. Play by making them chase and leap for the chase toy that you’ve selected.
-Purchasing an electronic toy: There are many electronic interactive toys out there for your furry friend to play with. These toys can entertain your cat while you’re away, or while you’re at home and don’t feel like playing. Many also come with timers so that they won’t waste any energy by being on all day.
-Walk your cat: Teaching your cat to walk on a leash is entirely possible, and we’ve got a great guide to the learning process right here. This way, your cat will satisfy his/her craving to enjoy the great outdoors while getting some exercise in.
-Purchase a feeding toy: For cats that stuff their face or simply need more exercise, there are feeding toys available that force your cat to be active in order to receive treats or food.

Regardless of your income level or home situation, it is possible to keep your cat on a healthy diet with just the right balance of food, water, and exercise. We all just want what’s best for our cats, so just stick to a feeding and exercise schedule, and you’ll have a healthy and happy kitty for the rest of their life!