Feeding Your Cat As a cat lover, you’ll want your furry friend to lead a long, healthy, happy and active life. One of the best ways to achieve this is by making sure your cat’s diet has the right balance of the five major nutrient groups: protein, fats & oils, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. As a cat lover, you’ll want your furry friend to lead a long, healthy, happy and active life. One of the best ways to achieve this is by making sure your cat’s diet has the right balance of the five major nutrient groups: protein, fats & oils, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
Cats are ‘obligate carnivores’, which means they need meat in their diet, so unlike dogs, they can never be vegetarian or vegan. Felines rely on protein as their main source of energy and need higher levels of protein in their diet than dogs. Not only is meat a ready source of protein, but it also provides three essential nutrients that cats can’t live without taurine (for heart and vision), arachidonic acid (for skin and coat health) and Vitamin A (for coat and vision).To keep your cat fit, you need to give them the correct balance of all essential nutrients in cat diets. A good-quality, complete cat food should be carefully formulated to provide them with the perfect balance of all the nutrients they need to thrive while, at the same time, still being delicious to eat.
It might seem like a treat to you, but adding human food or supplements to a nutritionally balanced, complete cat food can actually throw off the finely-tuned balance of your pet’s diet and give them an upset tummy!
Kittens have sensitive tummies and will need a special diet rich in protein and other nutrients to help them grow up big and strong. A complete kitten formula will make sure that they are getting everything that they need – our guide on feeding your kitten can provide more useful information on making sure your little one is well-fed.
From 12 months of age a normal, healthy adult cat will receive their appropriate cat nutrition from a balanced complete diet designed for adult cats. When they reach their senior years at around the age of seven to ten, they will need to switch to a senior diet tailored to their changing needs. Take a look at our page on caring for your senior cat for helpful tips to keep your older cat happy and healthy.
The moist or ‘wet’ food
Complete dry foods
Moist or ‘wet’ food comes in cans, foil trays or pouches. This type of food should always be served at room temperature to allow your cat to get the most enjoyment from the textures and smells.
Once opened, cover any remaining portions and store them in the fridge for no more than 24 hours – and remember, the food will need to reach room temperature again for the next meal, so take it out of the fridge in plenty of time before serving. Wet food shouldn’t sit around uneaten for more than an hour as it will become unappetizing and could attract bacteria, resulting in tummy upsets.
Dry foods are a very popular alternative to wet foods. Their kibbles contain the right balance of nutrients and have a crunchy texture that can help keep your cat’s teeth healthy. They are also more concentrated with nutrients than most foods, so you only need to serve small helpings.
Whether you’ve decided to feed wet or dry food, read the label to check that it is a ‘complete’ food rather than ‘complementary’, otherwise you might be buying a snack/treat instead of a balanced meal! Despite their appearance, dry cat food and dry dog food are not the same. The dietary needs of cats and dogs are quite different, so dog food is not suitable for cats and cat food is not suitable for dogs.
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How do you change a cat’s food?
Our article on feeding and adult cat can give you more advice on how to change your cats’ food carefully.
How do you change a cat’s food?
Raw meat can also contain parasites and bacteria, such as Salmonella, which can make your cat ill so, as a cat owner, you need to pay particular attention to hygiene if you decide to feed a raw diet. Be very careful too about bones as these can splinter and even lodge in your cat’s intestine.
Do cats need food supplements?
That said, some cats have special nutritional needs (e.g. for growth, certain medical conditions or during pregnancy) and cat food diets are available that are formulated for those specific needs. If in doubt, have a chat with your vet.
How much to feed your cat
How much you feed your cat depends on their breed, activity level and lifestyle. A good place to start is by following the feeding guidelines on the pack but bear in mind that these are approximate guidelines. The actual amount needed will vary from cat to cat depending on things such as their size or activity level. Monitor your cat’s body condition score regularly with our tool and use this as a basis to adjust the amount of food you feed your cat.